Despite a flopping new wide release ("I, Frankenstein"), grosses for the Top 10 this weekend actually enjoyed a healthy jump over last year ($91 million up from $81), showing strength from two unexpectedly big Universal films ("Ride Along" and "Lone Survivor"), two animated features ("Frozen" and "The Nut Job") and sustained interest in several Oscar contenders led by "American Hustle."
A year ago, two horror-genre films ranked #1 and 2 as "Hansel and Gretel" and "Mama" grossed $32 million, a big chunk of the total. This year, a new horror film ("I, Frankenstein") badly underperformed at number 6 with a miserable $8.3 million, even though its title character is the biggest one in Universal's stable of scary icons.
The top films show a healthy diversity of subjects and appeal, although the weak showing from the core younger audience continues to reveal a more serious problem ahead as older-appeal films wane going into the spring season.
1. Ride Along (Universal) Week 2 - Last weekend #1
$21,200,000 (-49%) in 2,759 theaters (+96); PSA (Per screen average): $7,670; Cumulative: $75,400,000
The nearly 50% drop is the only minor tarnish to an otherwise continued strong showing for this Kevin Hart/Ice Cube comedy which has found unexpected success post-holidays (where the bigger than expected showing of "Anchorman 2" indicated a hunger for less sophisticated, broad humor). This still could come close to the typical three-times the opening weekend multiple (which would place this at a strong $120 million-plus), placing it above the usual performance for urban-based comedies led by African-American characters.
What comes next: This shows the appeal of working-class comedies (similar to Kevin James' "Paul Blart" success) that seem to be underrepresented on the screen despite their success on network TV.
2. Lone Survivor (Universal) Week 5 - Last weekend #2
$12,600,000 (-43%) in 3,162 theaters (+173); PSA: $3,945; Cumulative: $93,600,000
Holding decently, this continues to be major success, at #2 in its third wide week ahead of all but one of the year's other new releases and soon to be come the first $100 million film of 2014.
What comes next: This will take a Super Bowl hit next weekend, but still should easily hit $125 million or more.