By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood November 2, 2013 at 10:39PM
Lionsgate/Summit's "Ender's Game," yet another attempt to catch a youth-oriented genre franchise to replace the "Twilight" series, opened at #1 yesterday to $9.9 million (including Thursday night's figures). This is a decent number, but not as strong as it needed to be given its $110 million-production cost and uncertain overseas fortunes (the U.K. opened last weekend at #5). The Friday gross falls short of three of the previous four weekends (the first two for "Gravity" and "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa"); a mid-20s weekend total won't provide the basis for a multiple-film series.
Two other wide openers showed even weaker numbers. CBS Films' $28-million boomer "Hangover" comedy "Last Vegas" came in at #3 with $5.1 million, which could still build word-of-mouth and more interest from older audiences. The veteran cast of Oscar winners (Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro and Kevin Kline) plays old pals attending a bachelor party. Relativity's 3-D animated film "Freebirds," a $55 million co-production, came in #4 with only $4 million, but kids at weekend matinees could boost this to #3 if "Vegas" falters.
"Bad Grandpa" came in #2 at $6.1 million, down a bit more than 50%, which will improve when the three-day total comes in. "Jackass 3D" fell 57% its second weekend (from a bigger start), so this should be considered a decent hold for a young-male based film. "Gravity," (Warner Bros.) which lost most of its IMAX screens to "Ender's Game," fell about 40% with a gross of $3.6 million to place #5. "Captain Phillips" (Sony) fell about a third to around $2.4 million and #6.
At #7 and showing sustained strength is "12 Years a Slave" (Fox Searchlight), which took in $1,265,000 in 410 (up from 123) theaters, with a likely total approaching $8 million by Sunday, impressive after only 17 days in limited release. The rest of the top 10 grossed $1 million or less -- #8 "The Counselor," #9 "Carrie" and #10 "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2.""
Two more limited films of note -- both from units of recently overhauled Universal -- opened to different results. Focus Features' real-life AIDS drama "Dallas Boys Club," with two acclaimed performances by Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, took in $69,000 in 9 theaters, a promising if not sensational start. Richard Curtis's Working Title comedy "About Time," released by the parent company rather than Focus, took in $310,000 in 175 theaters, a weaker result considering the quality of the theaters involved. Also opening was the once-anticipated "Diana," (Entertainment One) doing a very weak $19,000 in 38 theaters.