April 27, 2013



OPENINGS:  PAIN & GAIN (Paramount) is a “relationship” movie, not in the sense of the relationships between the movie’s characters (oh God, no), but the relationship between the studio and its director, Michael Bay.  This was a passion project for Bay, and Paramount agreed to let him make it–and oh, by the way, also locked him up to make next year’s Transformers 4.  The budget was kept down, so the studio can’t lose much, and everybody’s happy (except possibly moviegoers, who gave the picture a C- in exit polls).  With a weekend that’s not likely to top $20M (at least when real numbers are released on Monday), the movie will cause neither much pain nor much gain.

As to the weekend’s other opening:  a fallacy spread by the studios is that when a given studio only has US rights to a film, its total risk is the percentage of the production budget allotted to it–in this case, that Lionsgate has only $10M invested in the $35M cost of THE BIG WEDDING.  That’s incomplete and misleading, because the US studio still has full responsibility (usually) for marketing costs, which here were probably in the neighborhood of $30M.  So the movie’s likely $7M weekend and $20M total means plenty of red ink for Lionsgate.

HOLDOVERS:  OBLIVION (Universal) leads the pack, but a 62% drop from last Friday indicates lousy word of mouth, and with everything in the Top 10 destined for a 50+% drop next week when Iron Man 3 arrives, it’s going to be a long and very possibly futile climb to $100M.  The 44% Friday-to-Friday drop for 42 (Warners), while obviously much better, was surprisingly deep for a film with such strong crowd-pleasing qualities.  THE CROODS (DreamWorks Animation/20th) is still holding tight with only a 31% drop in its 6th weekend.

LIMITED RELEASE:  Two films this weekend opted for mini-wide releases, with mixed results.  MUD (Sony Pictures Classics) is headed for a $5K average at 363 theatres, an OK start for that level of release.  (In comparison, The Place Beyond the Pines had a $7500 average when it was in 514 theatres.)  But ARTHUR NEWMAN (Cinedigm) is a flat-out disaster, with what will probably be a $500 average at best in 250 theatres.  FILLY BROWN (Lionsgate) held very badly and will probably be down 65% for the weekend despite adding 71 theatres, for an average under $2K in 259.  In much smaller openings, AT ANY PRICE (Sony Pictures Classics) will have about a $5K average at 4 theatres, not a very promising start (and that’s with Dennis Quaid doing some Q&As), and KON-TIKI (Weinstein) should have a $6500 average at 3.

NEXT WEEKEND:  Welcome to summer!  IRON MAN 3 (Disney) will overwhelm every multiplex in the country (now that Disney has worked out its boxoffice splits with all the major chains), and no other studio will dare even to counterprogram it.  A few indies will try to find some arthouse space, with the arrivals of LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED (Sony Pictures Classics), KISS OF THE VAMPIRE (Magnolia) and THE ICEMAN (Millenium).

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."