December 8, 2013



OPENINGS:  With a dreadful $5.3M weekend, OUT OF THE FURNACE (Relativity) emerged burnt to a crisp.  The only useful thing it could do at this point is boost Christian Bale’s chance for an Oscar nomination–not for Furnace, but for American Hustle, where he’s so visually and tempermentally different than he is in Furnace that it might cause Academy members to pay attention.  (Of course, to notice the difference, they’d actually have to see Furnace…)

A bad sign for 47 RONIN (Universal), which doesn’t reach the US until Christmas Day:  its opening in Japan, which is logically considered a critical market for the Keanu Reeves vehicle (produced at a reported cost of $200M) was awful, pulling in only $1.3M.

HOLDOVERS:  With a mighty flex of its Saturday matinee muscle, FROZEN (Disney) took the weekend from THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (Lionsgate), $31.6M to $27M.  (Frozen bumped up a huge 120% on Saturday, while Catching Fire rose a more standard 53%.)  But girls, you’re both pretty. Catching Fire is at $336.7M in the US, $34.2M above the first Hunger Games at this point in its run, and overseas it’s roared past its predecessor:  after a $44.3M weekend, Catching Fire has $336.7M internationally (yes, the exact same number as in the US), which is already $53.5M higher than Hunger Games made in its entire overseas run.  Worldwide, Catching Fire is now ahead of Gravity, and seems likely to hit $850M before it’s done, which would make it the year’s #3 movie behind Iron Man 3 and Despicable Me 2 (although here comes Hobbit 2).  For its part, Frozen is $40M ahead of where Tangled was at this time in 2010, while internationally it’s opening gradually around the world, at a total of $55.9M after a $30.6M weekend in only 23 territories.

THOR: THE DARK WORLD (Disney) topped the rest with $4.7M ($193.4M in the US to date, just a small part of its $610.3M worldwide).  DELIVERY MAN (Disney) held well for what it’s worth, down 45% for $3.8M ($24.8M total).

The wide release awards contenders were quiet, with $2.7M for THE BOOK THIEF (20th) at 1316 theatres, $2.3M for PHILOMENA (Weinstein) at 835, $1.5M for DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (Focus/Universal) at 734, and a steeply dropping $1.1M for 12 YEARS A SLAVE (Fox Searchlight) at 1082.  The idea of expanding THE BUTLER (Weinstein) back to wide release to refresh voters’ minds in awards season must have looked better on paper than it played, because the result was a disastrous $260K at 1007 theatres.

LIMITED RELEASE:  The Coen Brothers have an art-house hit with INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (CBS), which had one of the best per-theatre averages of the year at $100K in 4 smoky nightclubs (even if that number is a bit shaky, since it assumes an extremely low Sunday drop).  Notwithstanding that superb start, the somewhat esoteric comedy-drama will probably need some awards help to find a wide audience.

Not surprisingly, MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM (Weinstein) held extremely well from its opening weekend, down just 8% for a $19K average at 4.  Nelson Mandela’s death obviously gives the film a visibility it wouldn’t otherwise have had, but Harvey Weinstein and his team will have to play that card very carefully, so as not to be seen as ghoulishly capitalizing on the great man’s passing.


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."