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B.O. Weekend Dec. 27-29 (A Holiday Frenzy + A Big Bust)

Box Office
by Sergio
December 29, 2013 12:21 PM
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A lot of people went out to see the movies with some doing better than others, an unexpected surprise here and there, a flop and one huge bust.

The battle for first place was between The Hobbit, Disney’s Frozen and Anchorman 2, and they wound up in that exact order, with Hobbit doing almost $30 million over the weekend, Frozen with $28.8 million and Anchorman 2 with just over $20 million.

Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, which actually came very close to beating The Hobbit as the biggest grossing film on Christmas Day, did much better than even I expected, with $34 million so far since Xmas. A surprise, especially considering the film’s subject matter, its hard R rating and the fact the film runs just a minute shy of three hours.

The film has so far gotten a reaction from people split right down the middle, between those who absolutely love it (like me - possibly my favorite film of 2013) and who those who hate it, calling it self-indulgent, debauched and Scorsese simply recycling himself. We’ll have to wait and see how the film will hold up over the next few weeks, but it’s no doubt certain to do well overseas, considering both Scorsese and DeCaprio are big draws in foreign territories.

American Hustle is the third b.o. hit in a row for writer/director David O. Russell, with over $60 million so far, and Saving Mr. Banks improved sharply, opening in more theaters with $14 million for a $37.8 million so far. Ben Stiller’s remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty has made a respectable $25 million to date, coming in at 6th place.

One surprise is that A Madea Christmas actually held on pretty solidly, dropping off only 11% compared to the previous week’s 50% drop off.

The big flop this Xmas holiday was the De Niro/Stallone/Kevin Hart comedy Grudge Match which pulled in $13.4 million, much less than anticipated. After some very positive test screenings, Warners was convinced they had a big hit on their hands and pushed up the film's original release date, from early 2014 to the Xmas holiday. Obviously it was a bad move.

And the Bollywood film I profiled last Sunday, Dhoom 3, continues to be a huge worldwide hit - the third biggest grossing Bollywood film to date  making, so far, $58 million, and it’s still scheduled to open in other foreign territories including Maldives, Rwanda, Egypt, Germany, Peru, Romania, Japan, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Turkey.

(For the record the biggest worldwide Bollywood hit to date is 2013’s action comedy film Chennai Express, which grossed $60 million worldwide  - $11 million of that in the U.S. - a figure that Dhoom 3 will far and away surpass, making it the biggest grossing Bollywood film ever.

One very mild surprise was the $20 million weekend gross for 47 Ronin which was expected to do half that number. But that’s not enough to help the film becoming a huge bust at the box office.

The film, which was originally scheduled to come out in November 2012, went through endless rewrites and reshoots after the studio saw the original finished product and wasn’t happy at all.

In fact, there were so many delays and postponements during the reshoots that the film's promoted star (actually supporting player) Keanu Reeves actually had time to direct and star in another film, The Man from Tai-Chi, which was released a few months ago.

Most of the failure fell on the shoulders of  Russian director Carl Rinsch, who previously had only a three short films to his credit and yet Universal thought he was qualified enough to direct the huge samurai project originally budgeted at $175 million which later ballooned to $225 million after all was said and done. And the studio knew they had a loser on their hands since there were no advance screenings for the media. The first time I can remember when any film with that large a budget was not screened for the media beforehand.

Based on the famous Japanese legend Chūshingura, about a group of renegade samurai on a mission to avenge the death of their master, and which has been the subject of numerous previous Japanese films since silent era, and numerous TV versions, the studio thought there was a market for an oversaturated CGI’d version that veered from the story and with the added character of a half English/half Japanese ex-slave played by Reeves who is, of course, not in the original story.

Still Universal took the rare step, publicly declaring the film a box office bust, and wrote it off the books as a financial loss just the day after the Xmas opening day numbers came out.

Their decision to do that was also influenced by the fact that the film completely tanked in Japan (where they thought the film would do solid business) a few weeks ago. As a result, 47 Ronin is being called the biggest final flop of 2013, already an extraordinary year of huge financial flops such as The Lone Ranger, Ender’s Game, The Fifth Estate, R.I.P.D, among several others.

If you really want to see a film version of the legend, check out director Kon Ichikawa’s 1994 version, or Takashi Miike’s awesome 47 Ronin-inspired 2010 13 Assassins.

Meanwhile Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom has earned $4,731,000  on just 970 screens, and 12 Years A Slave is now at $37.8 million to date, and I’m still projecting a final gross of $46-50 million for the film.

1) The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug WB $29,850,000  Total: $190,304,000 
2) Frozen  BV $28,845,000 Total: $248,366,000 
3) Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Par. $20,150,000 Total: $83,667,000 
4) American Hustle Sony $19,550,000 Total: $60,035,000  
5) The Wolf of Wall Street Par. $18,510,000 Total: $34,302,000 
6) Saving Mr. Banks BV $14,021,000 Total: $37,844,000 
7) The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Fox $13,000,000 Total: $25,595,000 
8) The Hunger Games: Catching Fire LGF $10,200,000 Total: $391,124,000 
9) 47 Ronin Uni. $9,869,000 Total: $20,571,000 
10) Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas LGF $7,400,000 Total: $43,719,000 
11) Grudge Match WB $7,310,000 otal: $13,435,000 
12) Walking with Dinosaurs Fox $7,100,000 Total: $20,768,000  
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  • CareyCarey | December 30, 2013 10:35 PMReply

    The Wolf of Wall Street... "possibly my favorite film of 2013" ~ Sergio Mims.

    Now THAT'S the biggest surprise of 2013!

    Sergio, I haven't seen the film but could you tell me (without spoiling it) why you feel that way? I mean, I can't remember, are you a Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio fan? Was it the writing, great storytelling or what? I never would have thought a movie of this nature (this genre) would grab you.

    Anyway, based on your affection for the film, I'm planning on seeing this tomorrow, so if you could, let me know what I am in for?

  • CareyCarey | January 1, 2014 12:14 AM

    "It's the Scarface of Wall Street movies"

    That's a good line and I get it. In fact, I just recently watched Scarface (2 weeks ago). It was all the things we've grown to hate about drug/street/thug movies ( i.e. predictable, excessive drug use, extreme violence, rags to riches via the drug trade, etc) but the skilled directing and solid performances left me wanting more... and gives me reason to name it as one of the best in it's genre and Al Pacino's career. So thanks for the headsup.

  • sergio | December 31, 2013 8:36 AM

    For the very reason why a lot of people hate it. It is self-indulgent, crude, offensive and over-the-top. It's the Scarface of Wall Street movies. It's masterfully directed and wirtten with solid performances across the borard and great one by DiCaprio. yes it is too long and there are several scenes that just go on too long, but I couldnlt cut one mionute out of it

  • Miles Ellison | December 29, 2013 6:33 PMReply

    So they added a half-white character that was previously non-existent to a movie based on an ancient Japanese legend? Why am I not surprised? Coming soon to a theater near you: Ryan Gosling as Shaft.

  • sthn | December 29, 2013 9:09 PM

    Julia Roberts as Harriet Tubman. I kid you not!

  • Erik W | December 29, 2013 8:41 PM

    Brad Pitt is up to play Frederick Douglas next year.

  • Peggy | December 29, 2013 4:06 PMReply

    They pick a no name white director to do Ronin while how many minority directors are out of work? No matter, I'm sure they'll give this guy even more movies to mess up. And I guess Kevin Hart isn't such a big deal. LOL.

  • CareyCarey | December 31, 2013 2:11 AM

    Good point Taz. I don't think Kevin has a white following. So I believe Ride Along WILL tell the whole truth. Now I think IT will do numbers.

    In reference to Stallone & Deniro, they still turn heads but this film's poor showing is simply a case of coming out at the wrong time.

  • Stallonecand Deniro | December 30, 2013 10:34 PM

    Are you done? Are you done?

  • other song | December 30, 2013 12:10 PM

    Interesting how that "any storyteller can tell anyone's story" only works in one racial direction

  • Taz | December 29, 2013 11:14 PM

    The test for Kevin Hart is Ride Along, not this movie.

  • Curtis Caesar J. | December 29, 2013 2:04 PMReply

    I went to go see Smaug finally and it had less screening here in NYC than Wolf but still beat it by far. Kinda want to see Wolf too, but eh. 47 Ronin looks weak anyway - though now that you say Keanu is actually a supporting character it may garner a watch. Grudge Match should've been a HBO movie, so no surprise here. Who wants to see two old men beat up each other -- the same audiences for bum fights?

  • cary | December 29, 2013 1:41 PMReply

    So I guess we will be see Another Madea film after all. SMH. TP Fans will see anything. Anyway at least that Bieber film floped. There is hope for our youth.

  • dan | December 29, 2013 1:28 PMReply

    Shocked at Madea. Most Tyler Perry movie that open low dont past 40 million total. This will be at 50 million by next week. This is Tyler Perry first movie with good legs. One must wonder is it white people who are also seeing this film. The last Madea movie and this one had a 90% white cast and with the success of Haves/ Haves nots one must wonder. Anyway good for him. Now we just got to work on people seeing Spike Lee work. Wolf was a very disappointing movie.

    Saving Mr Banks was very good though at times really slow. Story behind how Marry Poppins was made is very interesting.

  • curtis1986 | December 29, 2013 1:00 PMReply

    Looks like despite opening to 16 million Madea is on it way to a 55-60 million total. The last madea movie made 65 million and was the second highest grossing Madea film. This looks to be the third despite being the lowest opening of Madea films.Another hit for TP. Fans were to turn out but they are coming out. Bring on The Haves and Have nots.

  • Get help | December 30, 2013 12:54 AM

    @TRUTH: Why are you so angry at someone for liking something. What is your business? Please seek help. There is something deeper here. Reflect on your life and the answer will come to you.

  • truth | December 29, 2013 3:24 PM

    Yep, as long as he stays in drag, ya boy can eat. What a great artist!!! STFU stan.

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