October 21, 2012



Holdovers saved the boxoffice this weekend.

OPENINGS:  Although the studio flew to announce that a 5th installment will be opening a year from now, the weak start for PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (Paramount) is a signpost to the (probably temporary) end of the franchise.  PA4, which desperately claimed an opening of $30.2M but will probably come down tomorrow (it’s forecasting the smallest non-family-movie decline in the Top 10), will be by far the lowest grossing picture in the series in the US, and although Paramount is screaming that its overseas receipts are 11% higher than the last chapter’s, differing release patterns make those numbers hard to verify.  There’s still plenty of profit, of course, for a movie that costs only $5M to produce (plus a minimum of $75M worldwide for marketing), but if the 5th movie slides as this one has, soon enough the black ink will fade–just ask Saw.  Any profit at all, though, would be welcome to the backers of ALEX CROSS (Summit/Lionsgate), which bombed with a 5th place $11.8M opening, the lowest of Tyler Perry’s acting career (and only $600K above his lowest in any capacity).  According to The Hollywood Reporter, 74% of ticket-buyers were African-American, which tells you all you need to know about Perry’s attempt to expand his audience.

HOLDOVERS:  A slightly softer Saturday than expected made the result less historic, but ARGO (Warners) nevertheless had a fairly spectacular Weekend 2 hold, down only 15% from last week.  With next weekend’s arrivals aiming at different demos (aside perhaps from the oddball Cloud Atlas), business should stay strong until Flight arrives on Nov. 2, and Argo should hold the bulk of its theatres well into awards season.  HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA (Sony) has a stranglehold on the family audience, down only 22% in its 4th weekend.  TAKEN 2 (20th) is clearly satisfying its action audience, with a very good (for a sequel) 39% drop in Weekend 3. (Taken 2 is also cleaning up overseas, with $176M thus far–that’s about $100M more than the first Taken made outside the US in total.)   Even SINISTER (Lionsgate), which might easily have been blown away by the arrival of PA4, fell a very reasonable 50% in its 2d weekend.  In fact, generally speaking, audiences seem to be happy with what’s available at the multiplexes, as there were no large falls for HERE COMES THE BOOM (Sony), PITCH PERFECT (Universal), FRANKENWEENIE (Disney), LOOPER (TriStar/Sony/FilmDistrict) or 7 PSYCHOPATHS (CBS), none of which dropped over 37%.  Most impressive of all may have been THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER (Summit/Lionsgate) which is still at 745 theatres (adding 19 this week) with an OK $2900 per-theatre average, but dead even from last week, a sign of extraordinarily good word-of-mouth.

LIMITED RELEASE:  Those shuffling and reshuffling awards contenders should probably keep THE SESSIONS (Fox Searchlight) confined to the acting categories, as its unexciting $30K average opening in only 4 NY/LA theatres means a lot of marketing and great word of mouth will be required to make it any kind of breakout success.  THE MASTER (Weinstein) lost 40% of its theatres this week and fell only 35%, which suggests there is a hard core of interest out there, but it’s at a low level, and the picture probably won’t get to a $20M total gross.  ARBITRAGE (Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions) continues to hold beautifully, down only 7% even as it shed a chunk of theatres.  THE PAPERBOY (Millenium) is going nowhere, as it upped its theatres by 50% but increased only 21% at the boxoffice.  Two good, small indies, THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE (AFFRM) and SMASHED (Sony Pictures Classics)–in a better world, Mary Elizabeth Winstead would be in the Oscar conversation for her performance in the latter–had very similar results, increasing to around 20 theatres with about $2500 per-theatre averages–although Middle actually went down from last week despite more than tripling its theatres, so it’s in far worse shape.

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."