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'Best Man Holiday' Beats 'Thor' For #1 Friday; 'Nebraska' Shows Initial Strength

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood November 16, 2013 at 3:15PM

In an unexpectedly close race for top position this weekend, Universal sequel "The Best Man Holiday" was the top grosser yesterday, taking in $10,700,000 and edging out the second Friday for "Thor: The Dark World" (Buena Vista). The latter took in just under $10.5 million, falling 67% from its opening figure.
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'Best Man Holiday'
'Best Man Holiday'

In an unexpectedly close race for top position this weekend, Universal sequel "The Best Man Holiday" was the top grosser yesterday, taking in $10,700,000 and edging out the second Friday for "Thor: The Dark World" (Buena Vista). The latter took in just under $10.5 million, falling 67% from its opening figure. Even more impressive, director Malcolm D. Lee's film (which brings back the African-American cast of 1999's "The Best Man") played in only slightly more than half as many theaters as "Thor" and doesn't boast 3-D premium ticket prices.

Originally set as counter-programming to what had been expected to be the weekend's big launch, Martin Scorsese's now delayed "The Wolf of Wall Street"-- and the first wide release opening featuring African-American characters since "The Butler"-- "The Best Man Holiday" was expected to show some niche strength and be a solid performer. And with an economical sub-$20 million production cost and targeted marketing, it seemed likely to be a success for Universal even with little or no hope for foreign business. But now, a possible $30 million + weekend and good word of mouth and the Thanksgiving holiday could yield grosses on the order of the best of Tyler Perry's comedies ("Madea Goes to Jail" at $90.5 million was the highest). 

"Thor: The Dark World" will fall less for the rest of the weekend and could easily still end up #1. The original in 2011 fell 64% its second Friday, and should stabilize somewhat (second Fridays almost always drop more than the rest of the weekend). Still, it had been expected to be an easy #1 this weekend before it and everything will get clobbered by "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" opening next week.

The Top 10 overall collapsed from a year ago -- $35 million compared to $106 million, but with the caveat that "Twilight - Breaking Dawn 2" opened at $71 million for the day, with "Skyfall" at $12 million its second Friday providing a much higher level of draw. Next weekend will go a long way toward making up that gap.

Most of the rest of the Top 10 actually held fairly well, led by CBS's "Last Vegas" at $2.5 million, down only 22%. Paramount's "Bad Grandpa" was #4 at $2.3 million. The rest grossed between $1 and 2 million -- "Free Birds" (Relativity), "Ender's Game" (Lionsgate), "Gravity" (Warner Bros.), "12 Years a Slave" (Fox Searchlight), "Captain Phillips" (Sony) and "About Time" (Universal), in 6th to 10th place respectively.

"Nebraska" (Paramount) opened in four New York/Los Angeles theaters to just over $40,000, for a respectable per screen average of over $10,000. This puts Alexander Payne's film (in somewhat fewer theaters) a bit ahead of what "Dallas Buyers Club" (Focus) took in, and more than double the initial day for "All Is Lost" (Roadside Attractions), both strong rivals for best actor awards ahead.

More details on Sunday.


This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, Thor: The Dark World, Best Man Holiday


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.