Top Ten: 'Catching Fire' and 'Frozen' Gobble Up the Holiday Weekend Box Office

Box Office
by Tom Brueggemann
December 1, 2013 1:45 PM
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3. Thor: The Dark Warrior (Buena Vista) - Week 4; Last weekend #2

$11,108,000 (-22%) in 3,286 theaters (-427); PSA: $3,480; Cumulative: $186,712,000

Now approaching $600 million worldwide, this significant Marvel Comics hit held on well with the domestic holiday making it the best performer outside of the two huge more recent hits.

What comes next: The Marvel success story continues, even with sky-high budgets (this was $170 million, $40 million more than "Catching Fire"), with this popular character (Chris Hemsworth) likely to come around again multiple times--not to mention his nemesis Loki (Tom Hiddleston).

4. The Best Man Holiday (Universal) - Week 3; Last weekend #3

$8,500,000 (-32%) in 1,717 theaters (-324); PSA: $4,945; Cumulative: $63,400,000

This fell a bit under a third for the holiday weekend, hurt just a tad by the opening of "Black Nativity." It's a different market than when the original "Best Man: was released in 1999, but the total gross so far is double the first go-round.

What comes next: The bad-grossing pre-Christmas weeks ahead will depress the numbers a bit, but this should end up close to the level of the best Tyler Perry comedies.

5. Homefront (Open Road) - NEW - Cinemascore: B ; Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 38

$6,970,000 in 2,570 theaters; PSA: $2,570; Cumulative: $9,795,000

This might have seemed a dicey film to open on such a congested weekend, but two factors mitigated in its favor. Last year, FilmDistrict launched  action entry "Red Dawn" on the same weekend, and surprised with a $21 million five-day total. Also, Open Road is co-owned by Regal and AMC, the two largest theater chains, meaning the film had a far better chance of getting a solid run than might have been the case for other distributors.

This fell far short of "Red Dawn"'s result, despite a cast led by Jason Statham and James Franco. Statham (who hasn't starred in a release for one of the big six studios since "Death Race" in 2008, but has been a mainstay in actioners for Lionsgate and others, including the "Expendables" films) had "Parker" earlier this year opening to $7 million. Franco -- this is his eighth release for 2013 -- has had three standout releases this year ($100-million grossers "Oz: The Great and Powerful" and "This Is the End" as well as indie hit "Spring Breakers"), but a drug-war genre effort like this is not his normal fare.

This came from a screenplay Sylvester Stallone wrote as a vehicle for his younger self, and was directed by Gary Fleder, who debuted with "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead," then followed with his biggest success "Kiss the Girls" before the later "Runaway Jury" and the flop "The Express" in 2008. This had a reported budget of $22 million; Open Road acquired this after it was completed.

What comes next: Not likely to more than double this gross domestically, though this might have some greater foreign success.

6. Delivery Man (Buena Vista) - Week 2; Last weekend #4

$6,931,000 (-13%) in 3,036 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $2,283; Cumulative: $19,453,000

The holiday weekend helped keep this to a minor fall from its disappointing opening take, although still not likely enough to turn this into a success despite its relatively low initial budget ($26 million).

What comes next: This looks to end up somewhere around $30 million domestic, which means it needs a solid foreign take (it is just in its early stages of release overseas) to turn it around.

7. The Book Thief (Twentieth Century Fox) - Week 4; Last weekend #16

$4,850,000 (+696%) in 1,234 theaters (+1,164); PSA: $3,930; Cumulative: $7,856.000

The holiday helped, but this was a tough weekend to go wide for this Berlin-set late 1930s drama, with significant advertising and the original book's popularity helping it to get to a respectable if not spectacular gross. Head to head (this played at about 400 more theaters) this was about even with "Philomena," which targets a similar audience.

What comes next: This should be able to sustain at least a couple more weeks at most theaters, but it will be tough at this level to sustain runs at more than a small number through the end of the month.

8. Black Nativity (20th Century-Fox) - NEW - Cinemascore: A- Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 49

$3,880,000 in 1,516 theaters; PSA: $2,559; Cumulative: $5,000,000

Judging from its Cinemascore, this updating of Langston Hughes' work was well received by audiences, but the gross was less impressive. The PSA of around $2,500 is mediocre, more so for the playtime. And with the weeks ahead falling in the pre-Christmas slump, it will take major word of mouth to sustain this.

Fox Searchlight produced and oversaw the marketing, but as sometimes happens, turned over this wider-than-usual initial release to the parent company. It seems well-timed and cast with respected names (like recent success "The Best Man Holiday"), including Forest Whitaker fresh off of "The Butler," Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson and Jennifer Hudson. With trailers attached to Searchlight's "12 Years a Slave," it seemed set for modest success at a much higher opening level.

This is director Kasi Lemmon's most expensive ($17.5 million) of her four specialized releases so far: the well-received "Eve's Bayou" and "The Caveman's Holiday" were limited, and the more widely released "Talk to Me" grossed $4.5 million. "Black Nativity" was backed by five producers, most significantly sometime-evangelist T.J. Jakes (who oversaw the film production of his play "Woman Thou Are Loosed" as well as "Sparkle") and veteran William Horberg ("The Kite Runner," "The Quiet American," "Cold Mountain" and "The Talented Mr. Ripley" among many others).

What comes next: This is going to need signs of life in terms of less than normal dropoff next weekend to have much chance of a longer shelf life.

9. Philomena (Weinstein) - Week 2; Last weekend #27

$3,789,000 (+2,850%) in 835 theaters (+831); PSA: $4,538; Cumulative: $4,754,000

Weinstein took a leap of faith going this wide so quickly, betting on the holiday weekend and Judi Dench's appeal to older audiences to find a toe-hold. This started off weakly on Wednesday, but seemed to gain some momentum (its daily increases were ahead of average), suggesting good word of mouth and some potential ahead. The PSA is behind the fourth weekend of Dench's "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" which Searchlight took to over 1,200 runs (over Memorial Day weekend), suggesting this has a long way to go before matching that hit's success.

What comes next: Dench is likely to start showing up in best actress races with the Golden Globe nods, and the high visibility and heavy early advertising are all part of TWC's long-tern campaign.

10. Last Vegas (CBS) - Week 5; Last weekend #6

$2,785,000 (-36%) in 1,854 theaters (-1,072); PSA: $2,063; Cumulative: $58,722,000

Holding on in the top 10, and now CBS' biggest release, this took a hit in theater count but saw its PSA rise by nearly 50%, showing that it continues to maintain strong word of mouth among older audiences.

What comes next: This is nearing its end, but has already established itself as a sleeper fall success.




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