September 29, 2012



What was that about Adam Sandler having career trouble?

OPENINGS:  Sony‘s decision to open HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA a week before Disney’s Frankenweenie turned out to be a brilliant move, as Hotel is on track for the biggest September opening in history, close to $40M, not to mention Sony’s biggest animation hit ever.  And just to add whipped cash to the sundae, the concept is almost infinitely franchiseable, spin-offable (I’d pay to see a movie about Steve Buscemi’s werewolf and his unruly cubs) and merchandisable.   LOOPER (TriStar/Sony/FilmDistrict) is off to a solid start that could reach $20M, although with its fanboy base, potential front-loadedness will bear watching.  In any case, it’s a huge boost to Joseph Gordon-Levitt and director Rian Johnson’s fledgling careers.  Universal got the sampling it wanted for PITCH PERFECT with a 1-week 335-theatre run that should average a terrific $15K before going wide next weekend–but front-loading is a potential issue with its target audience as well.  Audiences with an interest in the crisis of our public school systems are apparently waiting for the Kevin James MMA slapstick comedy Here Comes the Boom in 2 weeks, in lieu of seeing NEVER BACK DOWN (20th), a movie that, with a dismal likely $3M opening, demonstrates why big studios don’t make serious issue movies anymore unless superstar actors and/or directors are involved (and usually unenthusiastically even then).

HOLDOVERS:  The trio of END OF WATCH (Open Road), TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE (Warners) and HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET (Relativity) remain more or less joined at the hip, their 2d Fridays within $100K of one another.  This is actually good news for House, which because of its teen horror genre would have been expected to collapse relative to the others–and it’s bad news for Curve, whose older audience was supposed to show up after opening week.  The already-small audience for DREDD (Lionsgate) was done after opening weekend, as the picture should plummet by 65% this time and drown in red ink.  THE MASTER (Weinstein) is falling steadily (masked a bit by adding 10% more theatres this weekend) and appears to be headed for a $15M total.  More seriously, it could be out of theatres before awards season even kicks into gear.

LIMITED RELEASE:  THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER (Summit/Lionsgate) expanded to 102 theatres and is already starting to feel a pinch, as its per-theatre number will fall to the $10-11K area, a number that will continue to shrink as the film goes wider.  ARBITRAGE (Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions), on the other hand, is doing just swell, down only around 30% in 256 theatres, just about the same number as last week.  By next weekend, it should surpass Margin Call as the most successful simultaneous theatrical/VOD release to date.

NEXT WEEKEND:  TAKEN 2 (20th) is the no-brainer (in more ways than one) presumptive winner.  The interesting question, though, will be whether Hotel Transfylvania has stolen Frankenweenie‘s animated horror-comedy thunder, despite the latter having brand name Tim Burton behind the camera.  Pitch Perfect will go wide, while the notable limited release is THE PAPERBOY (Millenium), which caused controversy in Cannes for a scene involving Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron and a bodily function.

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."