May 5, 2013



OPENINGS:  Here’s the really remarkable thing about this weekend’s haul for IRON MAN 3 (Disney).  It’s not the $175.3M opening in the US, even though that’s the 2d highest start in US history–that was pretty much where it was expected to be, well above Iron Man 2 but not quite equal to the combined might of The Avengers.  No, it’s the $175.9M that Iron 3 made overseas in its second weekend (worldwide total so far:  $680.1M).  That’s how unbalanced the split between US and foreign boxoffice has become for giant action-fantasy movies like this–even Weekend 2 overseas is now bigger than a massive US opening.  Iron 3 has made $65.3M since Wednesday in China alone, and suddenly all that effort Disney put in to bringing in a Chinese co-financier (which gives the partnership a higher percentage of boxoffice revenue than a strictly US production would get) and adding a bit of China-only content starts to seem very sensible.  The question that will bear watching as the summer goes on is whether US-centric epics like Man of Steel and The Lone Ranger can perform with that kind of strength overseas–and if not, whether that subgenre will start to die out.

HOLDOVERS:  Woe to the action movie already in the market when Tony Stark put his suit back on. PAIN AND GAIN (Paramount) collapsed with a 63% Weekend 2 drop, and despite its relatively low production cost, the marketing budget will make it a breakeven proposition for the studio.  (Although still well worthwhile, since in exchange for backing and releasing it, Paramount got next summer’s Transformers 4.)    Even worse off was poor Tom Cruise and his aptly-titled OBLIVION (Universal), which plunged 67% in its 3rd weekend in the US (it won’t get much beyond $90M), and was only able to scrape up $6.5M overseas–it’s now likely to make only $250M or so worldwide, a lousy result for a movie with production/marketing costs of $250-275M, and pretty much the end of Tom Cruise as an international superstar (except when he’s in a Mission: Impossible movie).  Films targeted at older and younger audiences held up better, as the dreadful THE BIG WEDDING (Lionsgate) slipped a relatively low 49%–it still won’t make more than $25M–and the longer-running 42 (Warners) and THE CROODS (DreamWorks Animation/20th) fell a respective 42% and 37%.

LIMITED RELEASE:  MUD (Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions) made the strategic move of expanding by almost 60% to 576 theatres in the face or Iron 3 and didn’t get much out of the decision, still falling 3% for the weekend with a $3700 per-theatre average.  THE COMPANY YOU KEEP (Sony Pictures Classics), which had tried a big expansion last weekend, lost 1/3 of its theatres and even so, barely held onto a $1400 per-theatre average.  THE ICEMAN (Millenium) had the one impressive number of the weekend, opening with a $23K average at 4 theatres.  LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED (Sony Pictures Classics) couldn’t quite make it to a $10K average at 4.  SOMETHING IN THE AIR (IFC) had a $5K average at 3.  THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST (IFC) expanded to 35 theatres (it’s also available on VOD) with a $2500 average, KON-TIKI (Weinstein) expanded to 14 theatres with a $5600 average, AT ANY PRICE (Sony Pictures Classics) widened to 18 theatres with a $1800 average, and MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN (Paladin) went to 10 theatres with a $2300 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."