January 29, 2012



Beware the round-number weekend estimate.
OPENINGS:  THE GREY (Open Road) is claiming an even $20M gross for the weekend, which would make tomorrow’s adjusted number starting with “19” no surprise at all.  In any case, it’s a bit lower than Liam Neeson’s other starts in his new career as an action star, but Grey is the toughest sell of those pictures, so everyone should be happy.  ONE FOR THE MONEY (Lionsgate/Summit) wasn’t quite as frontloaded as the worst-case scenarios threatened, but its $11.8M is still the worst opening of Katherine Heigl’s starring career.  No one at all was interested in seeing Sam Worthington on a ledge, and MAN ON A LEDGE (Summit/Lionsgate) will be a memory in 2 weeks.

HOLDOVERS:  UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING (Screen Gems/Sony) is claiming a 21% drop on Sunday when every other picture in the market is reporting a more normal 35-50%, so either Kate Beckinsale has special powers or the number will come down tomorrow (possibly to 3rd place for the weekend, below One For the Money–unless, of course, that number comes down too).  MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 4 (Paramount) crossed the $200M mark domestically, and if Paramount wants the bragging rights enough, they may be able to push it past the original MI as the most successful of the franchise.  CONTRABAND should give Universal a tidy profit, but no such luck for HAYWIRE and Relativity.  And despite the hype, unless RED TAILS (20th) cleans up overseas, it won’t do more than break even for George Lucas (who financed it out of his own capacious pocket).  
OSCAR NOMINEES:  Here’s an extraordinary fact:  THE ARTIST (Weinstein), in only 897 theatres this weekend, will have a lower per-theatre average (around $3700) than the despised One For The Money will have in 2737 theatres (around $4300).  Ladies and gentleman, your winner of the 2011 Academy Award!  Really, none of the prominent nominees are exciting audiences:  EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE (Warners) in the widest release at 2630 theatres, is looking at a $2700 average, THE DESCENDANTS (Fox Searchlight), expanded to 2001 theatres, is at around $3300.  Meanwhile,  HUGO (Paramount), TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY (Focus) and THE IRON LADY (Weinstein) are hovering around $2500.  And avert your eyes from WAR HORSE (DreamWorks/Disney), with a terrible $1100 average despite its Best Picture nomination. 
LIMITED RELEASES:  A DANGEROUS METHOD (Sony Classics), which may have expanded (to 365 theatres) in hopes of nominations that didn’t come, saw its per-theatre number slump to $1600.  A SEPARATION (Sony Classics), which did get its (well-deserved) nominations, fared better, with around a $9K average at an expanded 31 theatres.  The 3D dance documentary PINA (IFC) also expanded to 35 theatres, with a milder $5300 average.  WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN (Oscilloscope), another loser in the Oscar lottery, expanded to 10 theatres and held with a fairly good $6600 average.

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."