April 15, 2012



The Games are barely slowing down.
THE HUNGER GAMES:  We’ll find out soon enough whether any of the genuinely exciting rumors about possible sequel directors (Alfonso Cuaron, David Cronenberg) are true, because Lionsgate needs Catching Fire in the can by early 2013, when Jennifer Lawrence has to report for X-Men duty.  For now, THE HUNGER GAMES (Lionsgate/Summit) had, at $21.5M, the 12th highest 4th weekend in history, and its 35% decline was a better hold at this point in its run than Spider-Man or The Dark Knight had.  Although Games may fall out of 1st place next weekend to the Zac Efron sudser The Lucky One, it doesn’t face any truly strong competition until May 4, when The Avengers will blow everything out of the water.  Games has also made $194M overseas, and by next week will have surpassed the original Twilight (with $200M) internationally–subsequent Twilights, undoubtedly like future Games, have been far more successful overseas, outearning their US boxoffice.

OPENINGS:  A PG comedy like THE THREE STOOGES (20th) should have seen more than a 21% Saturday bump–as a result, the $17.1M weekend number is a little soft.  The picture was reportedly produced for a modest $35M, so it should see profit (assuming there’s some overseas interest), but maybe not sequel-level profit.  THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (Lionsgate) was a tricky movie to sell, because the only thing interesting about it (the meta-genre trickery revealed in the 2d half) is the part that can’t be revealed.  So the picture didn’t reach beyond the genre audience, with a merely OK $14.9M opening.  LOCKOUT (FilmDistrict/, Open Road) is a pretty decent B-movie, but virtually unmarketable with a familiar premise, subpar special effects, and Guy Pearce in the lead–its $6.3M opening shows the studio didn’t solve that problem.
HOLDOVERSTHE RAID: REDEMPTION (Sony Classics) widened past limited release very quickly for Sony Classics, but ran into a concrete wall, with a terrible $1100 average in 881 theatres.  (Maybe the upcoming English-language remake will do better.)  TITANIC 3D (Paramount) held beautifully, with only a 33% drop, but the real excitement was overseas, where in China alone, the picture set an all-time opening weekend record with an incredible $58M (in 1998, when there were far fewer theaters in China, Titanic only made $44M in total).  Combined with its other territories, that made Titanic 3D the highest-grossing movie overseas this weekend with $88M, drowning its aquatic peer BATTLESHIP (Universal), which unusually opened a full month before its US arrival and made $58M.  Meanwhile, back in the US, AMERICAN REUNION (Universal) dropped over 50%, while SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN (CBS) has really connected with its admittedly limited audience, slipping only 8% to $900K while losing more than 15% of its theatres.  
LIMITED RELEASE:  The only successful arrival of the weekend was the faith-based WOMAN, THOU ART LOOSED:  ON THE 7TH DAY (Code Black), with a $6400 average in 102 theatres.  BULLY (Weinstein Company), now safely PG-13, only had a $3400 average in 158 (and that number, as is usual with Weinstein Company, depends on a very aggressive estimate for Sunday).  FOOTNOTE (Sony Classics) expanded well, rising 53% while increasing its count around 30% to 84 theatres.  DAMSELS IN DISTRESS (Sony Classics), though, increased from 4 to 22 theatres and only had a $4200 average.  MONSIEUR LAZHAR (Music Box) opened pretty well with a $6300 average at 19, and the same studio’s THE DEEP BLUE SEA held virtually even in both theatre count and gross, a sign of good word-of-mouth. 

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."