Michael Fassbender in "The Counsellor"
Michael Fassbender in "The Counsellor"

What comes next: This looks like it will hold through Thanksgiving at most theaters and enter the awards season with far over $100 million at the box office and a strong image as a popular as well as critical choice.

4. The Counselor (20th Century-Fox) NEW - Cinemascore: D; Criiticwire: B-; Metacritic: 49

$8,000,000 in 3,044 theaters; PSA: $2,628; Cumulative: $8,000

While "Bad Grandpa" soared this weekend, the other new opening was created by two men of grandfather age. Ridley Scott is 75, Cormac McCarthy -- with his first original screenplay -- 80. This intricate international crime thriller with an all-star cast managed to divide critics and, based on its Cinemascore, alienate audiences to reach a soft $8 million first weekend total, a rare miss for Scott, who has totaled over $100 million domestic alone for three of his last four films ("Prometheus," "Robin Hood" and "American Gangsters.")

With a reported bargain-basement production cost of $25 million (with marketing in the U.S. alone likely approaching that number), this coproduction (besides Fox, the Seelig Group and Ingenious Media shared the cost) won't be a total debacle. International will likely end up a bit better than the sub-$20 million domestic total. But for a film from the author of "No Country for Old Men," and starring Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, and Penelope Cruz to do this bad shows major miscalculation on all fronts.

Curiously, this is the second film in two weeks to open wide and not do well that stars three of the cast of "12 Years a Slave." Pitt, Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch ("The Fifth Estate") can share in the glory of that initial success while moving on from their much wider flops.

What comes next: The indefatigable Scott is currently shooting the big-budget "Exodus" and has a "Blade Runner" sequel planned (he seems to have the next couple decades of his life already in the production pipeline), so this will be just a brief bump in the road for him.

5. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Sony) Week 5 - Last weekend #5

$6,100,000 (-37%) in 3,111 theaters (-491); PSA: $1,961; Cumulative: $100,611,000

It's good to stand alone as the sole animated film in the market. "Cloudy 2" now has passed the $100 million mark, not far behind where its predecessor was at this point ($108 million) and looking to add more before Thanksgiving.

What comes next: At this level, more than a chance of more "Meatballs."

6. Carrie (Sony) Week 2 - Last weekend #3

$5,900,000 (-63%) in 3,157 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $1,869; Cumulative: $26,021,000

A big drop from a weaker-than-expected opening for this classic horror film remake, with not even being the sole new scary film out pre-Halloween helping much,

What comes next: "Carrie Goes to College" now very unlikely.

7. Escape Plan (Lionsgate) Week 2 - Last weekend #4

$4,340,000 (-56%) in 2,833 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $1,505; Cumulative: $17,424,000

Two other old-timers not faring at all well, as the Schwarzenegger/Stallone pairing that in their prime might have been the #1 film of the year will struggle to stay in the top 10 more than three weeks.

What comes next: It's been a great run for both stars, but both, at least as lead action stars, will struggle to maintain that position.

8. 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight) Week 2 - Last weekend #16

$2,150,000 (+133%) in 123 theaters (+104); PSA: $17,480; Cumulative: $3,410,000

This is another strong showing for Steve McQueen's acclaimed but tough drama, with the PSA showing continued strength in a wide variety of cities and theaters while still in somewhat limited release. And it gets the bonus of a #8 place, due not only to its own success but also the overall market weakness. (Last year, for example, in an overall weaker market, this gross would have placed #14).

Comparisons can be arbitrary and imperfect, and all credit should be given to the Searchlight team for maximizing interest so far in this film. But although these are fine grosses, they aren't record-breaking or phenomenal. "Precious," which doubled "12 Years"' opening PSA in similar theaters its first weekend, grossed $5.9 million its second stanza in 174, for a PSA almost double ($33,762) in 51 more theaters (and a #3 placement). "Blue Jasmine" in about the same number of theaters (119) in its third weekend made $2,345,000 (PSA $19,709) to be #12. Those films were both major specialized successes ($47 and $32 million respectively, the latter still in release). 

"12 Years" seems to be headed that way as well, at least based on early results. But at this point it appears that this is more likely to perform like other Picture contenders "The Artist" ($44 million) than, say, "Slumdog Millionaire" ($141 million). Those films, and many other top Oscar contenders, maximized their grosses by riding a late year and January wave of awards and nominations as they hit their maximum depth in the market. With its earlier release, clearly successful so far, Searchlight will have the awards field mainly to itself throughout November, and then have to count on a return wider break in the new year to get it above what "Precious" and "Blue Jasmine" have done.

What comes next: The #8 showing does the job -- very important for its awards chances -- of enhancing the valid perception that this is a popular success so far, which has not been assumed as automatic. These grosses ensure further exhibitor interest and wider awareness for the film, all of which will help add to these already good totals and enhance its status as an Oscar frontrunner.

9. Enough Said (Fox Searchlight) Week 6 - Last weekend #7

$1,555,000 (-11%) in 835 theaters (+78); PSA: $1,862; Cumulative: $13,021,000

Once again, "Enough Said" makes the top 10 at a gross that usually wouldn't qualify, but what is more important is that it continues to add to its decent total so far and is positioned to continue on for a few more weeks.

What comes next: This might be its maximum theater count, but expect it to get closer to $20 million than seemed possible even a couple weeks ago.

10. Prisoners (Warner Bros.) Week 6 - Last weekend #6

$1,063,000 (-49%) in 1,347 theaters (-813); PSA: $789; Cumulative: $59,122,000

The lack of recent hits -- "The Fifth Estate" from last week and "Machete Kills" from two weeks back no longer in the top 10, few new releases -- account for a low gross like this still placing after a decent run.

What comes next: International is opening more slowly, but when done should do enough that ultimately this will make a profit.