January 4, 2014

Behind the Friday Box Office – 1/3/13


OPENINGS:  PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES (Paramount) was an experiment in several ways–the first installment of the franchise to be a spin-off and not a direct sequel, the first released out of the Halloween season, and one of Hollywood’s first tries at producing and marketing a movie primarily to the Latino audience.  All of those moves made sense (the Latino demo is one of the strongest for the Paranormal series), but on the basis of opening day’s $8.7M, none of them seem to have paid off. Marked Ones will have the lowest opening weekend in franchise history, and its per-theatre average will be much lower than last year’s Spanish-language Instructions Not Included (which opened in just 348 theatres, compared to 2867 for Marked Ones), giving it not much more than double the opening weekend of Instructions ($7.8M) at 8x the theatres.

HOLDOVERS:  FROZEN (Disney) keeps minting money, its $6.8M Friday just 34% below last week’s Friday during the holidays.  It should handily win the weekend thanks to Marked Ones‘s likely frontloading, and should hit $300M by Sunday.  While it (probably) won’t reach Despicable Me 2‘s $367.9M US total, it’s going to get closer than anyone ever dreamed.  The next interesting question for Disney will be how it plays out Oscar season, with both Frozen and Monsters University all but certain to be nominated for Best Animated Film (and The Wind Rises a possibility as well).  THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG (Warners/MGM) dropped almost 50% from last Friday to $5.1M.  With the benefit of an extra day of holidays in its run, it’s pulled slightly closer to An Unexpected Journey and if it doesn’t start lagging again, it could end up 10% behind Journey‘s $300M US total, rather than the 15-20% it had been running for a while.

The conventional wisdom on American audiences is that they’ll tolerate virtually unlimited violence, but explicit sex will alienate them (well, all the way to their homes, where the standards are very different).  Yet THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (Paramount/Red Granite), just frames away from an NC-17 rating, is holding beautifully, down just 31% from last Friday to $4.3M.  Critics and pundits may be tut-tutting about the moral message Scorsese and DiCaprio are sending with the film, but ticket-buyers don’t seem to mind at all.  AMERICAN HUSTLE (Sony), which has been in the market an extra week, is right behind Wolf on a day-to-day basis (down 35% from last Friday to $4.2M) and ahead in total box office ($79.7M vs. $54.2M).  The two seriocomedies about crooks will likely be seeing a lot of each other on the awards circuit between now and the Oscars.

ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES (Paramount) is starting to slow, down 45% from last week to $3.9M.  Nevertheless, it’s at $102M and could get to $130M before it’s done, which would make it Will Ferrell’s #3 live-action hit.  SAVING MR. BANKS (Disney) and THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (20th) are both down 38% from last Friday, to $2.8M and $2.5M respectively, but the Banks total is way ahead ($53.2M to $40.3M), and while Banks has weeks of awards season ahead, Mitty is likely to fall off quickly–not to mention that Mitty‘s production budget was triple the one for Banks.  With a US result that won’t even cover its domestic marketing, Mitty will badly need some international success.  (It’s just started its overseas release.)

GRUDGE MATCH (Warners) is holding up much better than 47 RONIN (Universal) and WALKING WITH DINOSAURS (20th), down 25% compared to 54%/51%, but with their Fridays at $1.2-1.8M, all are on their way out.  None of the 3 has even hit $30M yet, and again, Grudge is the winner among them, because it cost less than half as much to produce as Dinosaurs and only 20% of Ronin‘s gargantuan budget.

Milestone alert:  THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (Lionsgate) has hit $402.3M in its 7th weekend, and should be at just about $408M by Sunday.  That will put it ahead of the first Hunger Games, and just inches from Iron Man 3‘s $409M to top all 2013 releases in the US.  Catching Fire could end up at $420-425M, and its international take has overwhelmed that of the first movie, $404M to $283.2M.

In mid-size releases, PHILOMENA (Weinstein) has found its target audience, and Harvey Weinstein is throwing his Oscar resources at it.  Despite dropping about 15% of its theatres, it fell only 27% Friday-to-Friday for $408K at 607, and will shortly go over the $20M mark.  No such luck for MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM (Weinstein), which took a nasty 57% hit to $342K at 1010 theatres.

LIMITED RELEASE:  No new openings of note this weekend.  Among holdovers,  HER (Warners) is showing some welcome momentum, actually up 6% from last Friday even though it didn’t add any theatres.  Its weekend per-theatre average of $15K or so at 47 theatres still isn’t gigantic, but it’s well-poised for next week’s expansion.  Also gaining ground, probably thanks to awards attention, is DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (Focus/Universal), up 14% from last Friday.  While its numbers aren’t all that impressive (a $2500 average at 128 theatres), it seems to be pleasing audiences.  LONE SURVIVOR (Universal) fell 14% from last Friday and at only 2 theatres, it should maintain an impressive $40K average.  AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY (Weinstein) dropped 29% and is heading for around a $30K average at 5.  NEBRASKA (Paramount) fell 23%  and should have a $2500 average at 240.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The only fresh arrival is the 3D THE LEGEND OF HERCULES (Summit/Lionsgate).  However, awards hopefuls Her, Lone Survivor and August: Osage County will have pre-Oscar nomination roll-outs to class things up.


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."