January 15, 2012



The Martin Luther King holiday weekend, a relatively small one for Hollywood because many people work on Monday, begins.
UNIVERSAL: The studio made the fairly extraordinary decision to sit out the holiday movie season entirely, presumably because they didn’t think any of their product could compete.  They did, however, spend a lot of money marketing CONTRABAND, which wouldn’t open for a month.  The effort paid off with an extremely solid Friday that could lead to a 4-day weekend approaching $30M.  But all that advertising was pricey, and the picture will have to achieve a substantial total to make it worthwhile.  It should help that the movie is quite entertaining, leading to good word-of-mouth (although there are quite a few action movies arriving as competition in the coming weeks).

DISNEY:  The studio’s 3D re-release of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST had a well-chosen release date, a holiday when the holiday family movies (including Disney’s own War Horse) are running out of steam but the other studios aren’t getting involved.  The result is a $25M+ 4-day weekend that will pay for the minimal cost of the 3D transfer and also feed sales of the new homevideo edition.  
WARNERSJOYFUL NOISE was hoping to hit the holiday’s family audience too, but so far it’s not working out so well.  With a 4-day weekend unlikely to reach $15M, the picture will have to hope for good word-of-mouth (which the faith-based audience sometimes provides) to stay in theatres for a while.  And the studio has stuck doggedly to its strategy on EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE, which will finally expand next week, and which is still earning a very good $15K in each of the 6 theatres where it started on Christmas Day.
WEINSTEIN COMPANY:  THE IRON LADY expanded well to 800 theatres, and should have a per-theatre number for Friday-Sunday (plus a little extra for the Monday holiday) comparable to the one Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy had when it did the same expansion a week ago.  The picture will be hoping, of course, for a Meryl Streep victory at the Golden Globes on Sunday.  Meanwhile, the studio is playing a bit of a shell game with THE ARTIST, increasing the theatre count (to 216) just enough so that the weekend total (around $1.1-1.2M) stays steady, even as the per-theatre figure falls by 20%.  MY WEEK WITH MARILYN, which lost almost one-third of its theatres this week, badly needs Michelle Williams to win the Comedy Actress Golden Globe.  (Don’t ask how that movie is a “comedy”.)
SONY CLASSICS:  CARNAGE expanded to 494 theatres, but will need major Golden Globe help to keep those screens very long.  It’s headed for a $1500 per-theatre average.  
HOLDOVERS:  Nobody who saw THE DEVIL INSIDE (Paramount) last weekend could look at themselves in the mirror this week, and the result should be one of the 10-15 largest 2d weekend drops in history (and it would have been worse if Sunday hadn’t been part of a holiday weekend).  That was by far the most dramatic drop, with the holiday movies aimed at adults looking at 30-40% declines, and the family movies getting a Sunday advanrage from the holiday for a 10-25% fall.  YOUNG ADULT (Paramount), though, gave up the ghost (unless Charlize Theron pulls out an upset Globe win), losing more than half its theatres. 
LIMITED RELEASES:    PARIAH (Focus) expanded to 24 theatres and should do an OK $5K average.  IN THE LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY (FilmDistrict) expanded to 18 and should do a less OK $3K in each.  WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN (Oscilloscope) returned from its holiday-week awards-eligibility run to 1 NY theatre, where the buzz on Tilda Swinton’s performance and local raves should get it to $50K over the long weekend.  

Next week, apart from the Extremely Loud expansion, is all about action:  Sony‘s 3D UNDERWORLD AWAKENING, Relativity‘s HAYWIRE (from Steven Soderbergh), and RED TAILS from Fox and George Lucas.

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."