August 25, 2013



OPENINGS:  THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES (Screen Gems/Sony) won the weekend’s battle (among newcomers) but isn’t likely to win the war, with a very blah $3K average at over 3000 theatres for a $9.3M weekend ($14.1M since its Wednesday opening).  The big question is whether Constantin Film, the German studio that financed the $60M film and controls all territories outside the US (which means it’s paying for all overseas marketing) will go ahead with the sequel that’s scheduled to start production next month.  If it does, this could be the definition of pouring good money after bad.

THE WORLD’S END (Focus/Universal), on the other hand, is looking quite robust even though its $8.9M weekend was below Mortal Instruments.  World’s End cost less than half as much as Mortal, it’s in less than half as many US theatres (a $5800 average) and it’s already taken in $16M in early overseas results.  It’s well-placed to outgross both Shaun of the Dead ($13.5M) and Hot Fuzz ($23.5M), especially with only one other comedy (the Robert DeNiro/Michelle Pfeiffer mob farce The Family) due in theatres over the next month.

YOU’RE NEXT (Lionsgate) had a major marketing problem:  the only thing interesting about the mostly second-rate bloodfest is the twist it takes in the second half (also the only reason it’s getting good reviews), but revealing that twist spoils its effect.  Instead, the studio relied on off-putting illustrations of the killers’ animal masks, which appealed to no one, resulting in a lousy $7.1M start and what will probably be a total under $20M.

Based on its $4.3M weekend, its first of semi-wide release (1283 theatres), BLUE JASMINE (Sony Pictures Classics) isn’t going to be a breakout hit for Woody Allen on the magnitude of Midnight in Paris, but with $14.8M already earned, it’s still going to be one of his biggest recent successes.  The challenge for Sony Classics will be to keep it in the awards hunt when the serious art-house artillery starts showing up next month and through the rest of the year.

HOLDOVERS:  THE BUTLER (Weinstein) is claiming just a 31% drop for the weekend to $17M (that may be an aggressive number, not the first The Weinstein Company has estimated), but even if it creeps down a bit tomorrow, it’s still holding beautifully, and with $52.3M to date, it could climb all the way to $100M.  That guarantees it a prominent slot in Harvey Weinstein’s annual roster of Oscar hopefuls.

With a $13.5M weekend and $91.7M to date, there’s an irony in the fact that WE’RE THE MILLERS (Warners) and The Conjuring may end up more profitable for Warners than its massively budgeted trio of Man of Steel, The Great Gatsby and The Hangover Part III combined.  Will it lead to more of an emphasis on modestly budgeted genre efforts and less money sunk into giant spectacles?  Ask Ben Affleck when he takes off his Bat-Cape.

So far ELYSIUM (TriStar/Sony) is running just even between the US (a $7.1M weekend for $69.1M so far) and overseas (a $20M weekend for $70M).  That’s not going to cut it for the movie, which has $250M in production and worldwide marketing costs.  PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS (20th) isn’t taking off overseas either, with $48.3M in the US (after a $5.2M weekend) and $62.1M in the rest of the world (after a $18.4M weekend).  THE SMURFS 2 (Sony) is almost tripling its US result overseas ($172.3M compared to $62.6M), but both those numbers are horribly down from the first Smurfs ($421.1M and $142.6M).  The much more modestly budgeted PLANES (Disney) is fine if unexciting with an $8.6M weekend and $59.6M to date in the US (its international run has just started), especially with the merchandising revenue it should generate.  Looked at on a global basis, THE WOLVERINE (20th) is a moderate success, its $125.1M in the US balanced against $225.6M overseas (with Japan still to come).  PACIFIC RIM (Warners) has made fully 3/4 of its worldwide gross overseas ($99.2M vs $298.1M), but because so much of that international total comes from China, where the government keeps most of the box office receipts, it’s still unlikely to break even.  Thinking of China, JURASSIC PARK 3D (Universal) had a tremendous start there, $28.8M for the weekend–and although the same government withholding applies, whatever money the 20-year old movie makes at this point is gravy for Universal.  Also making that studio smile:  DESPICABLE ME 2 (Universal) has gone over $800M worldwide.

LIMITED RELEASE:  THE GRANDMASTER (Weinstein) had a good start with a $19K average at 7 theatres.  SHORT TERM 12 (Cinedigm) kicked off with a $15K average at 4; that’s decent, but the film will need strong word of mouth to expand with any impact.  THE SPECTACULAR NOW (A24) expanded fairly well with a $4200 average at 154, and IN A WORLD… (Roadside) had a $4K average as it widened to 75.  AUSTENLAND (Sony Pictures Classics) averaged $5500 at 23, and AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS (IFC), also on VOD, had a $2600 average at 28.

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."