January 12, 2014

Behind the Weekend Box Office – 1/12/14


OPENINGS:  A bit surprisingly, LONE SURVIVOR (Universal) had no Saturday bump to speak of (under 1%), giving it a more frontloaded weekend than a movie appealing to an older audience (which tends not to run out on opening night) with strong reviews might be expected to have.  American Hustle, by way of comparison, went up 9% on its first wide Saturday, and last year’s war movie Act of Valor was up 5%.  None of that takes anything away from Lone‘s huge, unforeseen $38.5M opening weekend, but it suggests that without Oscar nominations to fuel its fire, it might start to run out of steam sooner rather than later.

THE LEGEND OF HERCULES (Summit/Lionsgate) will have to make all its money overseas after a lousy $8.6M start in the US.  With production + marketing costs that will top $150M, that’s a big stable to clean.

Several other Oscar hopefuls expanded their way into national release this weekend.  AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY (Weinstein) did best with a $7.3M weekend at 905 theatres ($8100 per-theatre average), still just an OK number.  It was better, though, than the $5.4M for HER (Warners) at 1729 theatres ($3100 average), a marvelous film that posed a huge marketing challenge for Warners out of that studio’s wheelhouse. INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (CBS) is now at 729 theatres, where it made $1.9M ($2600 average). NEBRASKA (Paramount) widened to 521 for $820K ($1600 average).  The future of all these films will depend in great part on what gets announced Thursday morning.

HOLDOVERS:  FROZEN (Disney) more than doubled its Friday number on Saturday, as kids who are back in school during the week ran to see it (again?) on the weekend, and the result was just a 23% dip from last weekend to $15.1M.  The blockbuster has earned $317.7M in the US and $394.6M overseas (after a $25.8M weekend outside the US), and with territories left to open, should easily top $800M before it’s done, which would make it the #8 animated movie worldwide in history.

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (Paramount/Red Granite) is claiming weekend victory over AMERICAN HUSTLE (Sony) with $9M vs. $8.6M, but most of that is because Wolf projects a significantly lower Sunday drop than Hustle, 37% to 42%.  So we really won’t know which was ahead until final numbers tomorrow.  In any case, Hustle, now at $101.6M, has a lead over Wolf‘s $78.6M that’s unlikely to be erased short of a major Oscar preference for Wolf.  (Also worth remembering:  Wolf cost more than double Hustle‘s $40M production budget.)  Both films are still early in their international runs.

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG (Warners/MGM) continues to make money with an $8M weekend in the US, where it has a $242.2M total ($36M behind An Unexpected Journey at this point in its run).  Smaug has also made $566M overseas for a worldwide total of $808.2M, but with just China and Japan left to open, it seems unlikely at this point to reach Journey‘s $1B mark.

The older-skewing SAVING MR. BANKS (Disney) and PHILOMENA (Weinstein) are the strongest holdovers among the Oscar hopefuls, with Banks down 24% to $6.6M ($68.9M total) and Philomena down a tiny 6% to $1.4M at 607 theatres (although its $2200 per-theatre average is lower than the $2500 that Banks has at more than 4x as many theatres).  Also holding well after 2 months of giant release:  THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (Lionsgate), down 35% to $4.6M and adding to its 2013 record with $414M in the US so far, not to mention $847M worldwide.

ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES (Paramount), down 43% to $6.1M, THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (20th), down 45% to $4.4M, GRUDGE MATCH (Warners), down 63% to $1.9M, and 47 RONIN (Universal), down 70% to $1.5M, are all nearing the end of their runs.  For all but Anchorman, overseas returns are their only chance to avoid red ink.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES (Paramount) plunged 66% to $6.3M, and will be on its way to homevideo by next week.  It will be the least successful of the Paranormal franchise, although with its miniscule $5M production cost, still profitable.

LIMITED RELEASE:  THE PAST (Sony Pictures Classics) added 12 theatres for a total of 17 and a $5100 average .  THE INVISIBLE WOMAN (Sony Pictures Classics) also widened a bit, up by 5 theatres for 9 and a $5400 average .  Worth nothing:  THE GREAT BEAUTY (Janus) reached $1M in total US box office, a considerable feat for a 2/1-hour subtitled film that wasn’t released by one of the high-profile indies.





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."