February 9, 2014

Behind the Weekend Box Office – 2/9/14


OPENINGS:  After Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street, and now THE LEGO MOVIE (Warners), writer/directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller will be able to do just about anything they want:  all 3 of their projects have not only been smash hits, but they’ve greatly overperformed expectations, spawning 3 new franchises in a row.  (Along the way, they directed the best-regarded comedy pilot of this TV season, for Brooklyn Nine-Nine.)  That consistency of success is a special kind of gold in Hollywood.  This weekend’s $69.1M weekend for Lego is just the beginning in the US, and the film added $18.1M overseas with openings in 34 mostly smallish overseas markets.

All things considered, THE MONUMENTS MEN (Sony/20th) can breathe a sigh of relief after a $22.7M opening that followed reviews that were blah or worse.  The decision to hold off the opening from its originally scheduled Christmas release got a lot of negative attention at the time, but it’s been validated, and while the film is unlikely to be a big moneymaker, its setting and star power should help it overseas.

VAMPIRE ACADEMY (Weinstein) probably should have gone straight to VOD, where the marketing costs are relatively slim.  Its $4.1M opening will lead to ink as red as its characters’ form of sustenance.

2 major films have opened overseas before arriving in the US.  ROBOCOP (Sony/MGM) is now in 47 markets and made $20.2M this weekend ($28.7M total), not a particularly impressive number considering that it’s in major territories like Australia, Germany, Italy and the UK.  MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN (DreamWorks Animation/20th) is off to a promising start in only the UK at $6.6M.

HOLDOVERS:  Because of last week’s Super Bowl Sunday, all weekend comparisons for films that managed to hold onto their theatres look especially good this week.  So RIDE ALONG (Universal) is down a mere 22% to $9.4M, LONE SURVIVOR (Universal) is down 25% to $5.3M, and even the flop THAT AWKWARD MOMENT (Focus/Universal) dropped just 37% to $5.5M.  The major exception:  THE NUT JOB (Open Road) tumbled with Lego‘s arrival, down 48% to $3.8M.

FROZEN (Disney) had no such trouble, down 23% to $6.9M.  It’s now made $368.7M in the US, pushing it past Despicable Me 2 as the top animated 2013 release in this country (and behind only Catching Fire and Iron Man 3 overall).  Overseas, it added $24M to its total ($13.7M from China), and with its Japan opening still to come, it’s at $913M worldwide, and has a real chance of becoming only the 2d animated movie in history (with Toy Story 3) to reach $1B.

All of the Best Picture Oscar nominees are gone from the Top 10, with AMERICAN HUSTLE (Sony) leading the pack at #11, down 26% for the weekend to $3.1M and a $138.2M total, 2d only to the $266.5M for Gravity.  THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (Paramount/Red Granite) is still doing well, down 24% to $2.6M and a $107.9M total.  Worldwide, the comparison is somewhat different, with Hustle at $189.9M, Wolf at $268.2M, and Gravity at $696.5M.

LIMITED RELEASE:  The closest thing to a major opening this weekend was the 3 1/2-hour Holocaust documentary THE LAST OF THE UNJUST (Cohen Media), which had a $1800 average at 8 theatres.  THE PAST (Sony Classics) expanded to 67 theatres with a $1600 average.  GLORIA (Roadside) was more promising, with a $3900 average after expansion to 64 theatres.

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."