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Weekend Box Office Results For September 27-29: So How Did 'Baggage Claim' Do?

Box Office
by Tambay A. Obenson
September 29, 2013 3:06 PM
27 Comments
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I'm sure that's the one and only box office-related question on all of your minds today, so I'll just cut to the chase.

David E. Talbert's romantic dramedy, which opened on just over 2000 screens nationwide this weekend, grossed $9.3 million. Not spectacular, but, considering that the film's production budget was a reported $8.5 million, it puts its opening weekend gross into some perspective. 

This, despite the fact that the critics weren't exactly kind to the film, scaring it with a 14% rating via movie review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.

Audience reactions have been much more favorable, however, and ultimately, maybe that's all that matters. After all, they're who the film was made for, and they spoke with their dollars.

Now whether word of mouth will be strong enough to carry the film into successive weekends, remains to be seen. Typically, assuming theater counts don't change dramatically, you can expect second weekend grosses to drop about 50% on average. So taking into account box office receipts during the work week, as well as through the end of next weekend, I'd expect Baggage Claim to have earned somewhere between $15 and $20 million. 

And by the time it leaves theaters (taking into consideration the shortened window between theatrical runs and home video releases), the movie's total gross will likely be in the $20-something-million range.

Again, not spectacular, but, again, considering the film's budget, it'll likely be thought of as enough of a success for Fox Searchlight

Or maybe not...

I'd be remiss if I didn't remind you that, this is a project that was originally announced 3 years ago with Taraji P. Henson set to star, but Fox Searchlight essentially shelved it when other "black films" the company backed and released didn't perform as well as they'd hoped. There was the 2010 L.A. Times report (soon after the project was announced) which suggested that Fox Searchlight was "pulling back from its foray into black-themed films." Why? Well, again, the few "black films" that had been distributed by the studio hadn't exactly set the box office on fire - namely, Just Wright and Our Family Wedding, each grossing only about $20 million in domestic box office, as well as Notorious ($37 million gross, on an estimated $18 million budget) and I Think I Love My Wife ($13 million domestic earnings on an $11 million budget).

As I noted in a previous post, Fox Searchlight had likely been hoping to recreate some of that Tyler Perry magic that was (and still is) helping to keep Lionsgate happy and in the black.

The article further noted that "while the urban market remains under-served by conventional Hollywood, it's not an audience that's easily captured" - a statement that still rings true today, 3 years later.

After the project was rebooted last year, I called it the Think Like A Man Effect. The surprising box office success of that romantic dramedy (it grossed almost $100 million Stateside) likely influenced Fox Searchlight's decision to revive Talbert's Baggage Claim, once again, hoping to capture some of the magic of the Will Packer-produced, Tim Story-directed movie. 

And why not, I suppose? The former was based on a bestselling book by a black author, which practically guaranteed it a certain box office premium from the start. The latter (Baggage Claim) is also based on a bestselling book by a black author, although I don't have access to exact sales figures, so I can't say how many copes each sold, or make any comparisons between the two - very likely in the millions in both cases.

So it shouldn't surprise that, given the success of the former, executives at Fox Searchlight were willing to take the risk the second time around. What they expected in terms of box office, isn't information that I'm privy to. But based on what was apparently their dissatisfaction with box office results for previous "black films" the company released as listed above - films that had about a similar budget-to-box-office-gross ratio - and given the immense success of Think Like A Man (itself also a "black romantic dramedy" with an ensemble cast of familiar black actors), I'd guess that they were probably expecting a more impressive opening weekend tally than what the film did earn.

I should note that Fox Searchlight does have a handful of other "black films" scheduled to debut theatrically over the next 6 to 8 months - the musical drama Black Nativity, directed by Kasi LemmonsAmma Asante’s Britain-set slavery-era drama Belle; and Steve McQueen's American-set slave drama 12 Years A Slave. Of the 3 films, McQueen's will likely be the studio's biggest hit - both commercially and critically.

Might we see a repeat retreat from "black films" by the studio, as we saw in 2010, if these 4 films don't meet expectations, whatever they are?

By the way, Lee Daniels' The Butler continues to push above $100 million, adding another $2.4 million to its gross, over the weekend, its 7th in release, bringing its total to just over $110 million.

The top 10 below, courtesy of Box Office Mojo:

1 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 - $35,000,000 ($35,000,000)


2 Prisoners - $11,270,000 ($38,954,000)

3 Rush - $10,314,000 ($10,574,000)

4 Baggage Claim - $9,300,000 ($9,300,000)

5 Don Jon - $9,000,000 ($9,000,000)

6 Insidious Chapter 2 - $6,747,000 ($69,544,000)

7 The Family - $3,674,000 ($31,696,000)

8 Instructions Not Included - $3,380,000 ($38,567,000)

9 We're the Millers - $2,865,000 ($142,418,000)

10 Lee Daniels' The Butler - $2,417,000 ($110,281,000)

Box Office
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More: David E. Talbert, Paula Patton

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27 Comments

  • IGBO | October 9, 2013 8:02 PMReply

    Irrespective of BAGGAGE CLAIM's budget, the film had a respectable opening weekend. It had the highest per screen average of any film in the Top 10. Its low favorability among the critics had little to do with its box office performance. Tyler Perry's films are consistently panned by the critics and with the exception of PEEPLES, have done well.

    The problem with BAGGAGE CLAIM is its inability to hold an audience. It dropped 55% in its second weekend. This suggests one of two things: 1) The film was in so many theatres that everyone that wanted to see the film saw it, or 2) It received poor word of mouth by the audience. My guess that it was a combination of both. Perhaps if the film had opened in fewer theatres (although not a platform release), despite grossing less the first weekend, it would be perceived as more successful, because more screenings would be sold out. As a result, in its second week, the film would have pent up demand and thus a better performance. That being said, if the film is terrible, then they probably released it in the correct number of theatres.

  • sid | October 9, 2013 7:23 PMReply

    i think this is terrible. i mean it's better than nothing, but about half of what comes in goes to the theater. i saw the movie and it had some funny parts.

  • Lisa | October 1, 2013 9:59 PMReply

    I really enjoyed "Baggage Claim". I thought Paula Patton was a perfect pick for the lead role. Jill Scott was surprisingly funny in her sultry and sexy role. David E. Talbert did a great job of selecting a great cast. Very refreshing movie and everyone should see it.

  • Jess | September 30, 2013 4:42 PMReply

    I'd like to know what the total cost of "Baggage Claim" was. There's no way that figure included their marketing costs.

  • Bforreal | September 29, 2013 10:07 PMReply

    The only thing I went to see this weekend was Don Jon, and it was well worth the money. All the rest of the movies on that list...meh. Not interested.

  • Exodus Animator | September 29, 2013 8:05 PMReply

    The film did not do poorly... It came in 4th during a slow weekend, with the #2(Prisoners) at $11 million, #3(Rush) at $10 million, and the #5(Don Jon) at $9 million. The films Prisoners, Rush, and Don Jon are highly acclaimed, big budget, and mainstream films. So comparatively, with an $8.5 million budget, Baggage Claim did very well, and is on track to make double its budget, which is break even for a studio.

  • Carl | September 29, 2013 10:36 PM

    I would love to live in your world when I need a vacation from reality.

    Being 4th on a slow weekend is nothing to brag about. Actually it sucks. Don Jon was an Indie that got picked up at Sundance, not a a "big budget" film.

    I swear some of ya'll would spin talk the holocaust so it wouldn't sound so bad. I understand support but jesus christ.

  • Alias | September 29, 2013 6:48 PMReply

    All I can say is, "Is it November yet?" I'm very much looking forward to "The Best Man Holiday."
    I LOVE a good rom-com, the operative word being "good." (Think: "Something's Gotta Give," "As Good As It Gets," "Father of the Bride,"). Anything Nancy Meyer, and the late Nora Ephron, who were the Queens of contemporary rom-coms. We need more of those with black actresses and actors who are actually good, talented and embraced by audiences.

    Malcolm Lee, and the CD, on "The Best Man," did an excellent job of casting. I LOVE, and respect, all of the actors in that film. And the story was so heartwarming and relatable. ... For any film -- black or white -- what's going to put butts in seats, aside from a good story, is the relatability of the actors to the audience. ...

    Watch, I bet "Fifty Shades of Gray," bombs when it's released next year because fans aren't feeling the casting choices.

    TLAM, also had a very likeable cast (with the exception of LaLa Anthony who is lame, and not an actress and only got the role because of Carmelo. ... Oh, and look, LaLa was also in BC!)

  • bee | September 29, 2013 5:35 PMReply

    i think Fox was looking for Jumping the broom numbers at least which was $6mil budget $37 mil gross. thats money for them. I thought this would at least make 15 mil

  • Jules | September 29, 2013 7:38 PM

    Timing is a major factor. Jumping The Broom came out on Mother's Day weekend.

  • Guyver | September 29, 2013 5:24 PMReply

    How about put the comedy aside sometimes and actually take on some serious subject matter. We are capable of more than dancing and singing negro spirituals and making people at AT us. Someone wake me up when Inception, starring an ethnic lead gets made. Naturally we will have to make it ourselves.

  • Mandii | October 2, 2013 5:37 PM

    Bohemian Princess I agree. The comments on this cite can be a elitist. Along with too much talk not enough action. If you want to see an nonwhite person staring in film like Inception stop talking about and actually go out and do it.

  • scripttease | September 30, 2013 10:08 AM

    Finally, someone who request the same thing. I like a good love story every now and again, so I will go with a Black version of, "A Walk to Remember or The Notebook". Something that don't involve the male half being murdered by some gangbanging thugs.

  • Miles Ellison | September 29, 2013 9:52 PM

    An admirable thought, but where is the black audience for this progressive and transcendent entertainment? Who would watch a black Inception? Not nearly as many people as would watch the average Tyler Perry movie. Or movies like Baggage Claim, Think Like a Man, etc. The mindset of many black mainstream filmmakers is commercial success, not artistry. There have been more than a few off-the-beaten-track films made by black directors that aren't cliched rom coms or lowbrow comedies, but none of those films have been seen in any significant numbers. The films that are succeeding are the films that people want to see. If people want different types of films, they need to support them.

  • SF | September 29, 2013 6:34 PM

    @Bohemian Princess: I could not have said it better myself. As a matter of fact, I've said just what you wrote to several people all weekend. Every Black film doesn't have to be an Oscar contender. Why can't we just be united?! Damn!

  • bohemian princess | September 29, 2013 6:08 PM

    @Guyver, there's nothing wrong with comedy when it's done correctly. Not everyone wants to go to the movies for a cerebral experience all of the time. Many of us look for an escape and sometimes we just want to throw our heads back and laugh. I'm not saying that Baggage Claim was that film but there's a lot of elitism in the Shadow and Act comments section and I find it so off putting.
    On every other article people are crying about their not being enough black films but when they do come out there's at least half a dozen posters that come on here to rip the thing to shreds. How about some of you Debbie Downers go and create your own films? Go make your own Inception "starring an ethnic lead" most of you all ain't doing shit but complaining. Ugh.

  • CareyCarey | September 29, 2013 5:20 PMReply

    "while the urban market remains under-served by conventional Hollywood, it's not an audience that's easily captured"

    Okay, lets tell it like it T-I-IS, "urban market" is the politically correct way of saying "black folks". Okay, lets set the record straight.

    Now that we've removed that small distration, are black folks any more fickled than white folks, or there is such a small amount of "urban market" films being made, and thus, their "failures" are given more attention? I believe the latter hits the mark.

    Point being, for every urban film that under-performs, there's arguably 50 (or more) "other" films that are not tearing down the house... and in many cases, they have larger budgets.

    In reference to the gatekeepers and their decision making process, I have to question whose voice and whose ass they're hanging on? I mean, I don't know if any in that group are black or white, or if they believe we're a monolithic group of blind lemming, but when looking at the details of films that "succeed" and those that under-perform, I believe they're biting on the wrong ass (maybe those who have personal agendas) and missing the most important details.

    Listen, most blacks know and accepts the reasons Tyler is huge in the black community. And everyone knows why Think Like A Man was a huge success, while Just Wright, Our Family Wedding and I Think I Love My Wife were huge flops, don't we? Well, I know but that's another conversation. I mean, it certainly has little to do with whether or not each film had great actors. Nope, that obviously can't be the reason. "Peeples" had championed black actors, smart and witty writing, but it didn't move the black meter, so what's really going on?

    Now we have Baggage Claim. To a large degree David E. Talbert's romantic dramedy is following Tyler Perry's road to success and has popular black actors, but apparently something is missing?

  • Alias | September 29, 2013 4:30 PMReply

    No surprise this did as poorly as it did. Paula doesn't have the acting chops or the fan base to carry a film. Had the studio pushed the project three years ago with Taraji, who was riding a wave of success, coming off "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," well it may have had a better chance.

    Also, I didn't know this movie was based on a not-so-bestselling book that no one has ever heard of. And while, arguably, Steve Harvey and TP share a similar audience, I know Steve is far more popular -- and talented -- than TP, which is why TLAM did so well at the box office, and not just among black audiences. And Steve has genuine crossover appeal. His TV show audience is very diverse and men think he's cool. ... This is NOT the case for TP. Face it, if OWN didn't exist, he'd have had to peddle his shows to BET or TV ONE because TBS saw the writing on the wall that his shows weren't pulling in the "right" audience that brings big advertising dollars.

    Interesting that Fox Searchlight lumped "I Think I Love My Wife, "in as a "black movie." Since it was helmed by Chris Rock, who has major crossover appeal, I didn't view it as a black movie at all. Plus it didn't have the types of tropes and stereotypes that many rom-coms with all black casts have. AND it was a remake of a French film.

    Of course, we all know why "Just Wright" fizzled. 'Cause everything about the casting of the flop was JUST WRONG!!! ... The studio has no one but themselves to blame for that hot mess.

  • Jules | September 29, 2013 5:37 PM

    In all fairness, Steve Harvey didn't write the screenplay for "Think Like A Man". The film was written by two White men, the same men who wrote "Friends With Benefits". It had a better screenplay than most rom coms of the last 10 years. TP has a built in audience and they will flock to any tripe he puts on the screen. I think the release date was a gamble and the plot was thin. Patton does well in films where she is the lead male's counterpart. She should stick to action films.

  • Johnnie MD | September 29, 2013 4:19 PMReply

    I saw the film this weekend and overall enjoyed it. Sure it had its flaws, but it was the same flaws that's in nearly every romantic comedy film that's been released in the last 10+ years. I've heard that one of the things the critics have really harped on is that the premise is unrealistic. But so is the premise of EVERY romantic comedy. The difference here, I think, is this film has a primarily black cast and thus has been grouped in the black film category. I think instead of seeing this as a black film, it should just be seen for what it is- a romantic comedy. That's it. I believe that's why Think Like a Man did so well is because people saw it as just a romantic comedy.

  • Johnnie MD | September 29, 2013 4:22 PM

    Oh, and I thought that Taye Diggs was hilarious. I wish he would take on more comedic roles. Have you all seen his Vine channel? He seems to enjoy doing comedic bits.

  • Jules | September 29, 2013 3:21 PMReply

    Just didn't work.

  • beemooree | September 29, 2013 3:16 PMReply

    I think taye diggs hurt the film. I mean he pissed alot of black people off with those comments he made. Although i like paula, taraji has a bigger following. Also, if they wanted the "think like a man" results, they should have made the cast pop up at theaters like meagan, regina, and ealy did along with others. At least it beat Don Jon right?

  • scripttease | September 30, 2013 10:22 AM

    Yes Kirk, there is a story brewing, but it won't be a Rom-com, more like an intense dramatic love story.

  • Akimbo | September 30, 2013 1:09 AM

    I really don't believe black audiences are mad at Taye Diggs. I know people have been mentioning it here lately, but I've never heard it real life nor have a seen any anti-Diggs movements online.

    Now, Paula? I think her showing in Jumping the Broom was the final nail in the coffin for her urban rom-com career. She can probably keep kicking around in supporting roles in mainstream movies before being relegated to the fourth or fifth lead on a glossy network series.

    The emperor has no clothes, but if she stays in the periphery, it'll take a little longer for folks to figure it out.

  • kirk | September 29, 2013 4:53 PM

    Let's all stop with the Paula hate. Paula did her thing in precious. She wasn't all giddy widdy with a stupid smile on her face. She can do it. Let's look at the real problem. THE MATERIAL. I'm glad Taraji wasn't in it and if she was in it, it still would still make 9 million.

    Dig deep romantic comedy writers. There's a story brewing somewhere...

  • Curtis | September 29, 2013 3:26 PM

    Y'all need to stop with the Taye Diggs hate. Taye Diggs has a small part in the film. This is Paula Patton's movie and nobody else's. Folks who wanted to see it saw it. Anyone who wanted to see it and decided not to just because they don't like Taye Diggs (even though it's not his movie) is a damn idiot. The movie didn't open strong because it just looked tired. If they went ahead and made it 3 years ago with Taraji as the post says she was originally supposed to star in it, that would've been a good time to make it. It would've beat some of these other black romance films that have been made since then to the punch. I also don't think black folks love Paula Patton all that much to be honest. So you put together a tired "black woman needs to find a man" story with a lead actress folks don't really love all that much to carry the whole film, and this is what happens. Remember Jumping The Broom wasn't a big hit either and Paula starred in that one too. It helped that Angela Bassett and Laz Alonso were in it though.

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