By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood January 26, 2013 at 2:07PM
Did you look at the movie ads this weekend and decide maybe it was a good time to stay home? Apparently you weren't alone. Three new openings failed to spark much interest, and combined with other post-Christmas releases that got whatever attention they deserved on their first few days, business collapsed last night. Recent weekends bolstered by the lingering strength of late 2012 releases masked real concerns that box office might be going south again after a decent holiday period. Is this just the dog days of January, or do these results suggest a troubling year ahead?
Grosses for the top 10 films fell by about a third from last Friday's hardly luminous results. And this is a not an undesirable weekend to launch a film, with no competition from football for the first time in months. Next week, the attention-grabbing Super Bowl will be a double whammy, scaring most new films away.
Leading the disappointing way is Paramount's long-delayed "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters," which even boosted by 3-D prices (most locations showing in this format) managed only around $6 million yesterday, below expectations and heading to a three-day gross not much better than half of what the surprisingly strong "Mama" opened to last week. Its concurrent foreign release has been stronger in scattered markets (particularly Russia), suggesting the $50 million film still has a chance to break even. But that is of no help to U.S. exhibitors.
The other two new films - FilmDistrict's Taylor Hackford/Jason Statham effort "Parker" and Relativity's multi-star/director short-film compilation "Movie 43" combined did less than 2/3s of the weak take for "Hansel and Gretel." For three new openings combined to do only around $10 million is frightening for a viable weekend like this. It suggests that now that the period of high-end adult-oriented films has passed (which boosted grosses since October) and with nothing new for young kids, the mainstay of year-round audiences - late teens and young adults - are not going out to the movies much, for the moment.
Oscar contenders "The Silver Linings Playbook" and "Zero Dark Thirty" virtually tied for third for the day, but the significant news is that while the latter took a normal third wide-week fall, the former dropped only around 20%, showing continued strong word of mouth and a real chance of sustaining a Top 5 presence for upcoming weeks as Oscar balloting begins in two weeks.
Top 10 Films (in millions/total)
1. "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" (Paramount) - $6.0/6.0
2. "Mama" (Universal) - $3.8/39.6
3. "Silver Linings Playbook" (Weinstein) - $2.3/61.8
4. "Zero Dark Thirty" (Sony) - $2.3/62.4
5. "Parker" (FilmDistrict) - $2.1/2.1
6. "Movie 43" (Relativity) - $1.8/1.8
7. "Django Unchained" (Weinstein) - $1.2/142.5
8. "Gangster Squad" (Warner Bros.) - $1.2/36.6
9. "Broken City" (20th Century-Fox) - $1.1/12.3
10. "Les Miserables" (Universal) - $1.0/134.3