September 22, 2013



OPENINGS:  At $21.4M, PRISONERS (Warners) is exactly where the studio hoped it would be, at the sweet spot that propelled The Town to a $92M total (and Argo, with its Oscar help, to $136M).  The question now is whether it can hold on to its momentum against newcomers like Gravity, Captain Phillips, The Fifth Estate and The Counselor over the next several weeks, as we hit the meat of the fall adult-aimed movie season.  (Later in the year, Warners will also have to decide its award priorities between Prisoners and Gravity.)  No such quandaries for BATTLE OF THE YEAR (Screen Gems/Sony), a stinker by any definition with what the studio claims is a $5M start–that number will probably start with a “4” tomorrow, since Screen Gems is estimating a very strong Sunday to get there.

HOLDOVERS:  INSTRUCTIONS NOT INCLUDED (Lionsgate/Televisa) only added a handful of screens this weekend, yet remarkably climbed 8% to $5.7M.  Its total is $34.3M, and it has a real chance of reaching $50M, making it one of the biggest success stories of the year.  INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2 (FilmDistrict) lost 64% of last week’s opening for $14.5M–unimpressive, but with $60.9M already in the bank, at this point whatever it makes is pure profit.  It should also be helped by the fact that no horror competition will be arriving until the Carrie remake on Oct 18.  THE FAMILY (Relativity) dropped 50% to $7M for a weak $25.6M US total.  The movie wasn’t terribly expensive, but major international overperformance will be needed if it’s to hit breakeven.  RIDDICK (Universal) will also need foreign help, as it dropped 46% to $3.7M and a $37.2M US total.

With no new family titles in the market, long runners like PLANES (Disney) and PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS (20th) thrived, down just 8% and 4% respectively–and amazing DESPICABLE ME 2 (Universal) actually went up 7% after 3 months of release and a $360.7M US total.  However, next weekend’s arrival of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 will likely change that.  Also holding well: BLUE JASMINE (Sony Pictures Classics), down just 15% and nearing $30M (Woody Allen’s 2d-biggest hit since 1986), WE’RE THE MILLERS (Warners) down 14% at $138.2M and THE BUTLER (Weinstein) down 22% at $106.5M.

LIMITED RELEASE:  ENOUGH SAID (Fox Searchlight) had an excellent start, averaging $60K at 4 theatres.  Next weekend it’ll expand to about 200 and have to fend without celebrity Q&As at the theatres, so we’ll have a much better idea of where it stands.  The $40K average for RUSH (Universal) at 5 has to be considered a bit soft, given the film’s hype and credentials.  This limited run was just a 1-week showcase (the movie goes wide next weekend), and it suggests Universal marketing has its work cut out for it.  THANKS FOR SHARING (Roadside) isn’t what audiences were saying for the Mark Ruffalo/Gwyneth Paltrow sex-addiction com-dram, with just a $2200 average at 269.  Despite some Harvey Weinstein-generated hype about last-second changes to the documentary’s content, SALINGER (Weinstein) barely made a ripple as it expanded to 138 with a $1300 average.  SHORT TERM 12 (Cinedigm) is hanging in there, with a $1900 average at 75 theatres.  YOU WILL BE MY SON (Cohen) spread to 19 theatres with a $1500 average.


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."