By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood January 5, 2014 at 3:57PM
As usual, this first weekend of the new year offered few new movies. The market is packed with awards contenders in varying stages of release, with Oscar-qualifiers that opened last week dominating the action. Most of the awards pictures showed minor drops or even increases. Most of them won't break wide until next weekend's Golden Globes weekend and the Oscar nominations the following Thursday. For these films, their results on this crucial weekend reveal how much further they might go.
Four awards pictures that are already in the top 10 will easily top $100 million--"The Wolf of Wall Street," "American Hustle," "Saving Mr. Banks," and animated "Frozen."
The new premieres were each on a single New York screen--and Takeshi Kitano's "Beyond Outrage" (Magnolia), which played fall 2012 festivals and has been on video on demand for weeks, and Giuseppe Tornatore's "The Best Offer" (IFC) didn't report grosses. The self-distributed "In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons in Life With Saul Leiter" played on a 90-seat uptown theater and with some reported sellouts took in $6,100, not bad for an unheralded documentary (about a pioneer in color photography).
The two films that opened in just New York and Los Angeles last weekend both had decent holds their second stanzas, looking comparatively better than their initial grosses. "Lone Survivor" (Universal) kept to just two theaters (the Lincoln Square/New York and Arclight Hollywood/Los Angeles), and fell 18%, grossing $83,600, or $43,300 per screen average, which is fairly impressive considering the mixed reviews and the lack of awards attention the film has received. (Peter Berg finally scored a WGA nomination.) "August: Osage County" (Weinstein) held nearly as well, grossing $141,000 in 5 theaters (the same two as "Survivor" and three additional ones, somewhat cutting down the PSA, which was $28,200, down 21% from the first weekend).
Both films thrived during the holiday weekdays and ended up with nearly double their opening weekend grosses for the full week, a sign of decent reaction. At some level, "Lone Survivor"'s grosses likely show a brighter future ahead as it expands. Both films received mixed reviews, but "August" has grabbed more attention and nominations (SAG, Golden Globes and elsewhere) due to the presence of Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts.