October 13, 2013



Sunday numbers will likely be a bit stronger than usual this week due to the Columbus Day holiday tomorrow.

OPENINGS:  CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (Sony) didn’t even come close to taking the weekend, but its $26M is quite strong given its older-skewing star and story, not to mention the giant competition from Gravity–it’s better, for example, than the $24.4M launch of Zero Dark ThirtyCaptain had a healthy 23% Friday-to-Saturday increase, and as a point of comparison, it’s already outgrossed the entire 3+ week run of Rush ($22.2M), another historical drama with enthusiastic reviews.  But we’re about to enter the thick of the awards-hopeful fall movie season, so the challenge for Captain will be to stay in the conversation as shiny new prestige films open each week.

MACHETE KILLS (Open Road) will presumably mark the end of this Robert Rodriguez franchise after a dismal $3.8M weekend (and even that number is suspect, since the studio is claiming a lower Saturday-to-Sunday drop than the one for Captain Phillips).  But that’s OK, Rodriguez has another sequel–this time to Sin City–on the way.  One footnote to the Machete failure is to wonder just how much lower Mel Gibson can fall after failing as the supervillain in a low-budget franchise.

ROMEO AND JULIET (Relativity), in semi-wide release at 461 theatres, got deadly reviews (deservedly) and appealed to absolutely no one, with a per-theatre average of $1100.  For Hailee Steinfeld, following up her hit in True Grit with Shakespeare must have seemed like a good idea at the time, and financier Swarovski Crystal will likely stick to its core business in the future.

HOLDOVERS:  Aside from its huge $44.3M second weekend in the US, a spectacularly low 21% drop from its opening ($123.4M to date), GRAVITY (Warners) has already made $68M overseas, with many of the world’s most lucrative territories (UK, Japan, China) still to come.  Apart from all that lovely money ($500M worldwide seems like an easy goal, on a production/marketing budget of about $250M), Warners, which won last year’s Oscar with Argo, finds itself with an embarrassment of awards season riches this year, now that Spike Jonze’s Her screened to raves at the NY Film Festival last night to join Gravity and Prisoners.  None of these can currently be considered a frontrunner–that title belongs to Fox Searchlight’s 12 Years A Slave–but as Argo proved last year, sitting behind the leader at this point in the season can work out very well.  Another Gravity note:  at a time when many 3D openings have been seeing only 30-40% of their tickets sold in that format, this weekend Gravity‘s 3D sales were 82% of its total, proof that audiences know the difference between a genuine visual event and a gimmick.

RUNNER RUNNER (20th) was even slower in its second weekend, down 52% to $3.7M and a US total that may not reach $20M.

Even with no other family product in the market, and despite a good 32% hold for a $14.2M weekend, CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 (Sony) has fallen behind the original, $78M to $81.2M, and it won’t catch up.  PRISONERS (Warners) continued to hold well, down 36% to $3.7M and heading for a total in the mid-$60Ms.  Surprisingly, the same is true of INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2 (FilmDistrict), down just 32% to $2.7M and a $78.4M total so far.

ENOUGH SAID (Fox Searchlight) expanded its theatre count by one-third to a semi-wide 606, but its weekend total fell 12% anyway, as its per-theatre average of $3200 was 40% below last weekend’s average.  It doesn’t seem to have the kind of stamina it would need to hang in during the awards season that’s getting underway.

LIMITED RELEASE:  THE INEVITABLE DEFEAT OF MISTER AND PETE (Lionsgate) unfortunately lived up to its title, with a $1800 average in 147 theatres.  The interesting thing about ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW (PDA), which had a negligible $2200 average at 30 theaters, is that its producer says that it will also release the indie’s VOD/streaming numbers–an extreme rarity.


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."