August 26, 2012



The yummiest weekend of the year for right-wing propagandists.

OPENINGS:  2016:  OBAMA’S AMERICA (Rocky Mountain) drew its core audience to the tune of $6.2M, which gave it a return in the same neighborhood as recent faith-based movies like Fireproof ($6.8M), but not nearly as high as Courageous ($9.1M).  Its per-theatre average of $5700 is also considerably lower than those two had ($8100 and $7800 respectively).  Also, contrary to what The Hollywood Reporter is spinning for its own political purposes, it is NOT the highest-grossing new movie of the weekend, since the last time we checked, $6.2M for Obama’s America didn’t exceed $6.3M for PREMIUM RUSH (Sony) (one might note that such slanted mathematics are, at least, consistent with the way some Republican make their budget calculations).  Not that there’s much to be said for Rush, which conclusively proves that while Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a talented actor who’s had success as an indie leading man with (500) Days of Summer and as a supporting presence in epics like Inception and The Dark Knight Rises, his name is meaningless to general audiences.  Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell are also in that group, as Shepard’s mindlessly fun HIT & RUN (Open Road) limped to only $4.7M ($5.9M since its Wednesday opening).  THE APPARITION (Warners) was about as substantial as its title, as Warners threw it into only 810 theatres for what appeared to be a contractually-obligated opening that mustered just $3M.

HOLDOVERS:  THE EXPENDABLES 2 (Lionsgate) had a 53% drop to $13.5M that was slightly worse than the 51% Weekend 2 fall for its predecessor, while also grossing $15M+ for the weekend overseas .  The family-oriented PARANORMAN (Focus/Universal) and THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN (Disney) held on better, with declines of 39% and 34%.  SPARKLE (Tri-Star/Sony), however, quickly exhausted its audience of Whitney Houston fans and slumped by an awful 64%.  Meanwhile, THE BOURNE LEGACY (Universal) and THE CAMPAIGN (Warners) continue their plodding runs, on their way to perhaps $105M and $80M respectively. (Bourne is also unexciting overseas, with $43.9M to date.)   HOPE SPRINGS (Sony) is holding nicely, down only 34% and on its way to a total in the mid $60Ms. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (Warners) has reached $519M overseas, giving it a worldwide total of $941M, and with China still to open, a chance to surpass The Dark Knight‘s $1B.  In other overseas news, TOTAL RECALL (Sony) is heading for about $100M outside the US, not nearly enough to make up for its disastrous domestic result, while TED (Universal) is on target to equal or exceed its $214.8M US total, with $155M overseas so far and still much of the world left to open.

LIMITED RELEASE:  SLEEPWALK WITH ME (IFC) aided by solid reviews and especially its connection to NPR’s This American Life (Ira Glass is one of the producers) had a stellar $65K opening in one NY theatre.  SAMSARA (Oscilloscope) pushed its 70mm imagery to a $37K average in 2.  Among the holdovers, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (Fox Searchlight) continues to make its way to an impressive $10M total, with $8.9M earned so far.  MOONRISE KINGDOM (Focus/Universal) added a few theatres, but will need to make an additional $2-3M to pass The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (currently at $45.8M) as the highest-grossing indie of the season.  CELESTE & JESSE FOREVER (Sony Classics) increased its theatre count by 2/3 to 115, but rose only 22% for the weekend with a $2600 average. ROBOT & FRANK (Goldwyn) widened nicely to 46 theatres with a $6300 average.  COSMOPOLIS (EOne), a sadly insufferable piece of work by the great David Cronenberg, had only a $2400 average in 63 theatres.  RUBY SPARKS (Fox Searchlight) is on the way out and unfortunately won’t even reach $3M at the boxoffice.  LITTLE WHITE LIES (MPI) had an OK start with an $8800 average in 3 theatres.  The wrenching COMPLIANCE (Magnolia) had a $4800 average in 10.

NEXT WEEKEND:  Labor Day weekend is a notorious dead spot in the studio calendar, but in recent years The American and The Debt have had moderate success finding an arty action movie audience.  This year, LAWLESS (Weinstein Company) will try to catch that crowd.  Beyond that, the pickings are beyond slim:  THE POSSESSION (Lionsgate) provides the week’s helping of cheapie horror, and something called OOGIELOVES IN THE BIG BALLOON ADVENTURE (Viselman) is there for truly desperate parents.

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."