November 3, 2013



OPENINGS:  There are still several days before THOR: THE DARK WORLD (Disney) reaches these shores, and it hasn’t opened yet in other major countries like China or Japan, but it’s already looking like a blockbuster, with a huge $109.4M start in 36 territories.  The first Thor made a total of $268.3M internationally, so the sequel is almost certain to race past its predecessor, as the Disney/Marvel Avengers strategy continues to bear very lucrative fruit.

In the US, ENDER’S GAME (Summit/Lionsgate) was at the top of a rather slow weekend with a reported $28M (that number depends on a very low 32% drop on Sunday–the lowest claimed by any film in the Top 10–so it may well get lower tomorrow in final numbers).  With Thor arriving next week, Ender’s is unlikely to reach $75M here, and even doubling its US take overseas might not get it to breakeven, placing future installments of the planned franchise in doubt.

LAST VEGAS (CBS) at $16.5M, and FREE BIRDS (Relativity) at $16.2M, are so close that we won’t really know which owns the bragging rights until tomorrow.  Whichever that turns out to be, the result is better for Last Vegas, which had a strong 38% Saturday bump and, with its old-skewing target demo, can reasonably expect to have some legs over the next several weeks.  Even though Free Birds has the animated territory clear until Disney’s Frozen arrives for Thanksgiving, a fair amount of its audience will be rushing to Thor and Catching Fire this month.

HOLDOVERS:  BAD GRANDPA (Paramount) had an extraordinarily good hold, dropping just 36% from its opening weekend (compared to drops of  44%/50%/58% for the Jackass movies) to $20.5M.  It seems likely to hit $100M in the US, not far below the $117M for Jackass 3D, which of course had premium-priced tickets helping it out.  Considering that it’s basically just a vaguely-connected set of sketches, and that Johnny Knoxville can age gradually into his old-man make-up, it’s a franchise that could potentially go on for a very long time.

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (Sony) is clearly (and deservedly) getting superb word-of-mouth, dropping just 27% in its 4th weekend to $8.5M.  With $82.6M earned so far, $100M seems doable, positioning it well for awards season.  GRAVITY (Warners) and CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 (Sony) both faced challenges this week–losing IMAX screens and facing new animated competition, respectively–and both responded well, down just 35% (to $13.1M) and 33% (to $4.2M).  Gravity, which has also earned $207.5M overseas (with China still to come), could reach $250M in the US if it can hold onto its theatres.

THE COUNSELOR (20th) plunged 59% to $3.3M, a complete washout in the US.  It will be Ridley Scott’s second lowest-grossing film in the US of the last 20 years, beating only 2006’s A Good Year.

LIMITED RELEASE:  With a strong 71% Saturday bump, 12 YEARS A SLAVE (Fox Seachlight) pulled in $4.6M after expansion to 410 theatres, giving it a $11K per-theatre average that continues to be strong but not exceptional.  Next weekend will be critical for 12 Years, as Searchlight goes semi-wide with it to over 1000 theatres.  ALL IS LOST (Roadside/Lionsgate) also expanded this weekend, to 131 theatres, with a less impressive $4500 average.  BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR (IFC) lost some momentum when expanded to 37 theatres, with a $6K average.  Much lower down the scale, KILL YOUR DARLINGS (Sony Pictures Classics) went to 19 theatres with a $3800 average, and CAPITAL (Cohen Media) had a $1300 average after expanding to 32.

The major newcomer was DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (Focus/Universal), which had a $29K average at 9 big-city theatres, a good but less than elite result.  The attempt to generate buzz for ABOUT TIME (Universal) didn’t go well, with a $6300 average at 175 theatres.  Next weekend it will try to counterprogram Thor, and the results may not be pretty.

DIANA (E One) and MAN OF TAI CHI (Weinstein) found no takers, with respective results of a $1700 average at 38 theatres and $1K at 110.



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."