June 8, 2013



OPENINGS:  THE PURGE (Universal) will be instantly profitable by the end of its high $30Ms weekend, and while a great deal of that is due to the $3M production budget, a US marketing spend of only $20M (less than half the normal big-studio amount) is a big help.  The key:  minimal expensive TV advertising.  The millions studios spend on pricey TV ads has also been called into question by Steven Soderbergh, among others, and if the studios discover that they can open big without pouring money into the networks’ pockets (much as they’ve found with newspapers), it could be yet another problem for the flailing world of broadcast television.  Another note:  one of the reasons the Purge production budget is so low is that the producers and talent accepted less money upfront in exchange for higher-than-usual back-end once the picture hits profit.  That should be good news for Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey and writer/director James DeMonaco, but it may cut down on the studio’s riches.

THE INTERNSHIP (20th), on the other hand, is another failure for “old Hollywood,” with a $60M production budget (including fees to the big-name stars and director), and probably $50M in advertising in the US alone–for an opening weekend that won’t hit $20M.  Star-driven vehicles are no longer a sure thing, even in comedy, the genre that was the last holdout, and it may not be long before Vince Vaughn and/or Owen Wilson start looking toward cable TV for the next step in their careers.

HOLDOVERS:  NOW YOU SEE ME (Summit/Lionsgate) was down only 40% from last week’s opening day, an excellent hold that’s all about good word-of-mouth.  If it can hang onto its theaters, it could end up in $90M+ territory in the US before it’s done.  AFTER EARTH (Sony), on the other hand, plummeted 66% from last Friday, and won’t even earn back its domestic marketing spend in US theatres.  The key number for Will Smith’s crash-and-burn extravaganza will be in tomorrow’s report on its overseas openings.

With nothing huge arriving at multiplexes, most of the other holdovers remained fairly strong.  FAST & FURIOUS 6 (Universal) fell 43% from last Friday and should pass $200M in the US by Sunday.  THE HANGOVER PART III (Warners) tumbled another 56%, but THE GREAT GATSBY (Warners) was down just 31%, and the results were even better for family movies, now that school vacations are starting: STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (Paramount) slipped 28%, IRON MAN 3 (Disney) dropped 26%, and EPIC (20th) fell a tiny 13%–in the case of the latter, though, overseas success will still be needed to push it into profit.

LIMITED RELEASE:  Joss Whedon’s black-and-white MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (Lionsgate) is on target for a big weekend, with a per-theatre average over $50K in 5 NY/LA theatres, but that number needs an asterisk, since it was heavily pumped up with multiple in-theatre Q&As.  THE EAST (Fox Searchlight) and THE KINGS OF SUMMER (CBS) continue their lockstep distribution pattern, widening respectively to 41 and 44 theatres, with very close per-theatre averages of perhaps $6K for East and $5K for Kings.

NEXT WEEKEND:  Friday will belong to MAN OF STEEL (Warners), one of the biggest risks of the summer–a franchise trying to reboot with a $200M+ pricetag (plus probably $150M in global marketing costs, not counting the amount spent by merchandising “partners” that run their own ads) and uncertain appeal, particularly overseas.  It’s notable that 6 days before release, Warners hasn’t allowed a single review to appear.  THIS IS THE END (Sony) has no such qualms, with a 86% rating already on Rotten Tomatoes, and it arrives on Wednesday in an attempt to counterprogram some of Superman’s thunder.  The only notable limited release is Sofia Coppola’s THE BLING RING (A24), although BEFORE MIDNIGHT (Sony Pictures Classics) will widen to over 600 theatres.



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."