April 21, 2012



The odds, finally, were not in The Hunger Games‘ favor.
OPENINGS:  America continues to want to spend its leisure time (and money) at the movies.  THINK LIKE A MAN (Screen Game/Sony) cost under $15M to produce, and while that doesn’t include the comparatively large marketing expenses, it’s still nice to make back almost your full budget ($12.2M of it) in a single day.  The number is even more impressive because the picture opened in just over 2000 theatres, making for a superb $6100 average on the day.  Think is running almost dead even with Tyler Perry’s 2010 Why Did I Get Married Too ($12.2M opening day in 2155 theatres), and as a non-sequel, may be less frontloaded (Married Too fell 61% in its 2d weekend), so it should end up at or above Married Too‘s $60M+ US boxoffice total.  THE LUCKY ONE (Warners) also overperformed, on a less grand scale, with a $9.1M Friday that should get it near $25M for the weekend.  The soap genre tends to be leggy (Dear John opened with $30M and made it to $80M total), although Lucky may get squeezed by next weekend’s Five-Year EngagementDisneynature‘s CHIMPANZEE, in a relatively small 1563 theatre release, didn’t set any ticket booths on fire with its $3.6M Friday ($2200 per theatre), but that number is still better than predecessors Oceans and African Cats were able to do.

THE HUNGER GAMES:  One sad fact about Hollywood is that when you see a list of potential directors for a project, usually the biggest hack in the group is going to get the job, and such is the case with Catching Fire, the first sequel to Hunger Games.  Names like Alfonso Cuaron, David Cronenberg and Bennett Miller were waved in front of us… but we’re ending up with Francis Lawrence, of I Am Legend and Water For Elephants.  Lawrence is a proficient director of studio projects, and speedy (he’s done several TV pilots, as well as coming from a musicvideo background)–which matters here, because there’s a very sharp deadline when Catching Fire will lose Jennifer Lawrence to Fox’s X-Men sequel–so we’ll see.  Meanwhile, at the boxoffice:  a $13-14M 5th weekend in release would be in the all-time Top 20 of those, and since the 5th weekend blockbusters are tightly packed (15 of them made between $13-15.6M), it could end up ranking much higher, depending on how Saturday and Sunday go.  Hunger looks like it’ll run out of steam before reaching $400M, but it still has one tantalizing goal:  beating Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and thus outgrossing every Potter and Twilight movie with its first chapter.  Right now Hallows 2 is running about $5.5M ahead (and has the advantage of much stronger midweek summer business), but Hunger is making up ground on the weekends–yesterday’s $4M take was more than double Hallows 2‘s boxoffice on the parallel day.  
OTHER HOLDOVERS:  Considering its generally strong reviews, THE THREE STOOGES (20th) didn’t hold very well, down 59% from last Friday.  That will stabilize somewhat over the weekend, but it’s still likely to fall over 50%, and end up under $50M.  CABIN IN THE WOODS (Lionsgate) is down 55% from last Friday, standard for the horror genre, but not showing any positive word of mouth from buzz about the movie’s second-half secrets.  AMERICAN REUNION (Universal) and WRATH OF THE TITANS (Warners) will continue falling 50% or so each, but the unpleasant surprise is that there turned out to be limited interest in TITANIC 3D, which held beautifully last week, but is set to topple over 50% this weekend.
LIMITED RELEASE:  Apparently Bob Marley fans were otherwise occupied on 4/20 (heh heh), and the documentary MARLEY (Magnolia) is only headed for around $7500 in each of 36 theatres.  DARLING COMPANION (Sony Classics), with its once-starry cast of Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline and Dianne Wiest, won’t get much beyond a $10K average in 4 NY/LA theatres.  That’s better than the acclaimed GOODBYE, FIRST LOVE (IFC), which is headed for perhaps a $5K average at 4.  The 2 1/2 hour Korean war epic MY WAY (PMK) couldn’t translate its publicity to boxoffice, and may gross under $1K in each of 21 theatres.  In limited holdovers, BULLY (Weinstein Company) expanded again to 283 theatres, but may not even reach a $2K average.  SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN (CBS) continued to hold very well, down only about 30% from last Friday, but its numbers are shrinking, and it won’t even have a $1500 average in 445 theatres.  
NEXT WEEKEND:  THE FIVE YEAR ENGAGEMENT (Universal) is the major opening, and will be aiming to outdo the $17.7M opening for Forgetting Sarah Marshall in 2008 (same studio, star, director).  The rest is flotsam looking to steal a weekend before THE AVENGERS arrives 7 days later:  Aardman Animation’s THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS (Sony), Edgar Allen Poe thriller THE RAVEN (Relativity), and Jason Statham’s latest action-fest SAFE (Lionsgate/Summit).  Also arriving are 2 indies of note:  Richard Linklater’s BERNIE (Millenium), a quirky comedy with Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConnaughey, and the extremely low budget SOUND OF MY VOICE (Fox Searchlight), a surprisingly ingenious Sundance notable about a cult leader that stars Brit Marling,

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."