January 15, 2012



Due to the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday, all studios are estimating low Sunday drops, although some are projecting more aggressively than others.
UNIVERSAL:  CONTRABAND held almost even on Saturday, which is good for an action movie, and is projecting a reasonable (given the holiday) 21% drop on Sunday.  It should get to $28-29M for the full holiday weekend, and then hope to withstand the flurry of new action pictures arriving on Friday.

DISNEY:  BEAUTY & THE BEAST 3D went up 20% on Saturday, not a huge increase for a family movie that should be getting the benefit of the matinee audience.  The studio is estimating only an 8% drop on Sunday, by far the lowest in the Top 10, and we’ll see if that holds.  Meanwhile, WAR HORSE is projecting a weekend drop of only 35%, but even if that’s accurate, the picture’s waning Oscar hopes mean that it will have to look for enormous international overperformance to have a hope of seeing profit.
WARNERS:  JOYFUL NOISE had a very strong 38% increase on Saturday, and the 25% estimated drop for Sunday makes sense.  The likely $14M 4-day total isn’t impressive, but with no family competition hitting the market until Big Miracle on February 3, it has a chance to stay in theatres for a while.  The studio’s holdover SHERLOCK HOLMES:  A GAME OF SHADOWS had a good weekend hold, and while the picture still won’t match the performance of the first in the series, it’ll be in the neighborhood.  EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE hung in there in 6 theatres, dropping only 11% for the 3-day weekend.
WEINSTEIN COMPANY:  THE IRON LADY had a solid $6700 average in 802 theatres over Fri-Sun, although that was less than Contraband and Beauty averaged in triple as many theatres.  Since Meryl Streep is guaranteed an Oscar nomination (and could win a Golden Globe tonight), the picture should have several solid weeks of playing time.  The studio got what it wanted from the limited expansion of THE ARTIST, able to report a 4% weekend increase by upping the theatre count 20%.  Its other awards season player MY WEEK WITH MARILYN is out of steam with a big (considering the holiday) 45% drop from last weekend.
SONY CLASSICS:  CARNAGE tried an expansion this weekend to 494 theatres, but found no audience interest with a $1500 per-theatre average (over 3 days).  A DANGEROUS METHOD had a smaller expansion to 104 theatres, and fared better, with a $5500 average (virtually even with THE ARTIST).  A SEPARATION is holding well, with only a 14% drop in 6 theatres.
PARAMOUNT:  The ranking may well change once actual numbers are in for Sunday, but as of now, THE DEVIL INSIDE has the 19th biggest 2d weekend drop in movie history (12th if you limit the count to movies in over 1000 theatres)–and it’s only holding that well because of the low Sunday drop due to the holiday weekend.  On a happier note, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL continues to hold very well, and now looks like it will be the only holiday release to earn over $200M in the US (and much more overseas), and could challenge the $215M earned by MI2, so far the most successful of the franchise.  THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN, though, is losing theatres and heading south–it will do OK overall because of the huge foreign overperformance, but we’ll see if the promised sequels are ever produced.  YOUNG ADULT lost more than half its theatres this weekend and is officially a (moderate budget-sized) disaster.
SONY:  THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO continues to show surprising resilience at the boxoffice, with the best hold of any holiday release.  The fact that it now looks certain to make over $100M in the US should help David Fincher decide to stay with the franchise.  (And his DGA nomination won’t hurt either.)
FOX SEARCHLIGHT:  THE DESCENDANTS performs as it has been for weeks, quietly making its way to almost $50M at the boxoffice with barely a ripple.  SHAME is at a $3500 average in 41 theatres and will need awards help if it’s not to fade away.
FOCUSTINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY took a bigger hit in its 2d wide weekend than the studio would have liked, with a 42% drop over 3 days that was one of the heaviest in the Top 15 (and that was despite increasing the theatre count by about 10%).  The cerebral, complicated thriller may be hitting mainstream audience resistence.  PARIAH expanded a bit to 24 theatres and had a mediocre $4000 average over 3 days.
FOX:  ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS:  CHIPWRECKED and WE BOUGHT A ZOO both jogged in place, neither one an outright flop, but each a disappointment.
INDIES:  The acclaimed 3D PINA (IFC) had a very nice $18K average in 6 theatres.  In 2 NY theatres, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN (Oscilloscope) reached its art-house audience with a $22K average. Angelina Jolie’s  IN THE LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY (FilmDistrict) has already hit a wall, with only a $2200 average as it expanded to 18 theatres.

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."