October 20, 2013



OPENINGS:  There was nothing supernatural about the blah $17M opening for CARRIE (Screen Gems/Sony/MGM), on the low end of Halloween horror openings, and with Bad Grandpa targeting a similar audience next weekend, there’s little chance for recovery.  Even though the reviews were never going to be good, Sony’s strategy of keeping the movie under lock and key until just hours before the opening may have backfired, creating a complete lack of buzz.  An embarrassing factoid:  the new Carrie may need some luck to beat the $33.8M Brian DePalma’s original film made… in 1976.

If Sylvester Stallone hadn’t made so many awful movies over the years, maybe people would have cared that ESCAPE PLAN (Lionsgate/Summit) is actually a very decent B-movie, with a minimum of the smirky meta-comedy that’s come to be his specialty.  As it is, the $9.8M opening will get the film nowhere, and with a reported $80M production budget (plus worldwide marketing), this weekend’s overseas result of $9.4M is a drop in the bucket toward profit.

There’s no shred of positive spin that can be pulled out of the pathetic $1.7M opening for THE FIFTH ESTATE (DreamWorks/Disney).  Aside from the actors and technicians, no one did their jobs well, from the director and writer to the marketing executives to the scheduling honchos and studio executives.  After two strong years at Disney, contributing The Help and Lincoln, this one will be a corporate loser.  (Although most of the DreamWorks production funding comes from Reliance and other investors, so there isn’t much Mouse money on the line.)

HOLDOVERS:  GRAVITY (Warners) didn’t break a sweat in winning its third consecutive weekend with $31M, down a bare 28% from last week.  It’s at $170.6M in the US, and also earned $33.5M overseas this weekend, for an international total of $114.2M (with such major territories as France, the UK, China and Japan still to come).  By next week, Gravity will become the biggest worldwide hit of Sandra Bullock’s career, beating The Blind Side‘s $309M, and has a fair shot of passing its $256M mark in the US.

Peeking out from behind Gravity‘s shadow, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (Sony) is also having a fine run, down just 33% from its opening to $17.3M (plus $9.1M in a few overseas territories).  With $53.3M to date in the US, Captain Phillips has a chance of reaching $100M, running ahead of The Social Network at this point in their runs.  The challenges for Sony will be to make sure the Captain stays in the Best Picture conversation (instead of just acting and technical categories), while balancing its other late-season openings American Hustle and The Monuments Men.

No genre has been as oddly scheduled this year as family movies, with hardly any in the spring, then an avalanche during the summer.  This month, CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 (Sony) has thrived on being the only movie for its target audience all month, and it continued to hold well with a 27% drop to $10.1M.  It’s still running behind the first Cloudy, but by less than $3M, and it has one more open weekend before Free Birds arrives on Nov. 1.

ENOUGH SAID (Fox Searchlight) increased its theatre count by 25% but fell 6% for the weekend to $1.8M, as its per-theatre average fell to $2400.  It seems unlikely to get to $20M ($10.8M so far), unless Searchlight can keep piling it into theatres.  However, on the bright side Enough is almost certain to become director Nicole Holofcener’s biggest hit to date, topping the $13.4M for Friends With Money.

Last weekend’s other wide openings, MACHETE KILLS (Open Road) and ROMEO AND JULIET (Relativity/Swarovski) both fell apart, down 68% and 53% to a respective $1.2M and $231K.

LIMITED RELEASE:  As expected, 12 YEARS A SLAVE (Fox Searchlight) claimed a $50K per-theatre average at 19, although that estimate depends on an extremely low (20%) Saturday-to-Sunday drop, which appears to be based on equal parts hope and the theory that African-American audiences will go see it after church on Sunday.  It doesn’t really matter much, other than for PR purposes, whether the final number is $50K or $48K–in any case, this is a strong opening but not the breathless rush to the multiplex that Oscar frontrunners like to see.  We’ll know much more next weekend, when Searchlight expands 12 Years to 100+ theatres.

Also expanding next weekend is ALL IS LOST (Lionsgate/Roadside), which was merely OK with a $16K average at 6 theatres.  The film’s hopes of attracting a wide audience appear dim.  KILL YOUR DARLINGS (Sony Pictures Classics) was farther behind with a $14K average at 4.

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."