September 1, 2013



Even though Labor Day Weekend is historically slow at the multiplex, the Monday holiday still boosted the Sunday takings for most titles.

OPENINGS:  Frontloading 101:  on Thursday night/Friday, ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US (Sony) made a robust $8.9M… then the bottom fell out on Saturday, when the fans had been sated, and the concert doc plummeted 54% to $4M.  It’s now 50/50 whether it can take the 4-day weekend or fall behind The Butler (This Is Us has $17M after 3 days compared to Butler‘s $14.7M, but the latter is having a $1.5M better Sunday).  $17M in 3 days puts Ths Is Us behind the recent Justin Bieber, Michael Jackson and Miley Cyrus concert movies, although still ahead of Katy Perry and The Jonas Brothers.  It also brought in $14.3M overseas in 53 territories.

The real success story of the weekend is the Spanish-language INSTRUCTIONS NOT INCLUDED (Lionsgate/Televisa), almost totally under the radar of English-language media, which is galloping to a $7.5M 3-day weekend in only 347 theatres, a stirring $22K per-theatre average.  Despite its niche appeal, so far this one hasn’t been frontloaded at all, zooming 45% on its 2d day of release, a tremendous success for a movie with a small production–and more important, marketing–budget.

GETAWAY (Warners) describes what theatre owners would like to do in relation to the Ethan Hawke/Selena Gomez vroom-vroom thriller, with $4.5M in over 2000 theatres, a paltry $2100 average.  And there was no audience for CLOSED CIRCUIT (Focus/Universal), at $2.5M in 870 theatres.  Wong Kar-Wai’s THE GRANDMASTER (Weinstein), expanded to 749 theatres, was just about in the same place with $2.4M.

HOLDOVERS:  THE BUTLER (Weinstein), as noted, is battling for the 4-day win, which would make it 3 weekends in a row if it gets there.  In any case, by tomorrow it’ll top $75M, and now looks like a good bet to go over $100M.  One of the Oscar talking points this year will doubtless be the relative positions of Fruitvale Station, The Butler and the upcoming 12 Years A Slave, which has been tallying up raves in Venice and Telluride festival screenings this week, not to mention the Nelson Mandela biography due to premiere at Toronto, as they compete for what could be an overlapping set of Academy voters.  (All but 12 Years are distributed by The Weinstein Company.)

WE’RE THE MILLERS (Warners) keeps raking it in with another $12.6M for the 3-day weekend, putting it over $110M by tomorrow.  It will definitely pass The Hangover Part III‘s $112.2M, and should end up not all that far from The Heat‘s $$157.3M.  PLANES (Disney) and ELYSIUM (Sony) also held very well, down just 10% and 9% for the 3-day weekend ($7.8M and $6.3M), and BLUE JASMINE (Sony Pictures Classics), despite losing some theatres, was actually up 1 % at $4M.  On the other end, THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES (Screen Gems/Sony), THE WORLD’S END (Focus/Universal)  and YOU’RE NEXT (Lionsgate) were all down 43-46%, at $5.2M, $4.8M and $4M respectively.

It was Milestone Weekend for several summer movies that added last-second theatres to hit some round numbers:  WORLD WAR Z (Paramount) increased by 1008 theatres to reach $200M, PACIFIC RIM (Warners) added 141 to get to $100M, and THE WAY, WAY BACK (Fox Searchlight) loaded on 352 but is still tantalizingly below its $20M target.

LIMITED RELEASE:  Expansions went fairly well for a number of films.  THE SPECTACULAR NOW (A24), now in 385 theatres, had a $2700 per-theatre average; IN A WORLD… (Roadside) had a $3600 average at 92; AUSTENLAND (Sony Pictures Classics) had a $4100 average at 52; and SHORT TERM 12 (Cinedigm) averaged $5900 at 16.  The only notable openings were AFTERNOON DELIGHT (Film Arcade) with an OK $14K average at 2 NY/LA houses, and Brian DePalma’s PASSION (EOne), also available on VOD, which found few of the old DePalma fans with a $$2400 average at 14.



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."