Despite two new disappointing films ("That Awkward Moment" from Focus and "Labor Day" from Paramount), holdovers sustained this typically low-grossing Super Bowl weekend. Universal sleeper hit "Ride Along" and Disney's unstoppable "Frozen" led the way to a Top 10 that totaled $67 million, up slightly from last year, and continuing the steady improvement so far in 2014. With the Winter Olympics the next outside competition, this is a hopeful sign that the depth of appeal of current releases (including several Oscar contenders continuing to draw) along with some stronger new films ahead could continue the recent positive trends.
1. Ride Along (Universal) Week 3 - Last weekend #1
$12,300,000 (-42%) in 2,867 theaters (+108); PSA (per screen average): $4,295; Cumulative: $93,000,000
Considering it's Super Bowl weekend, this is a terrific hold for the third week of this Kevin Hart-starring comedy -- its third week at #1. It bests any holdover gross from a year ago ("Hansel and Gretel"'s second weekend was $13 million, down 53%, though the #1 film, "Warm Bodies" was considerably better, just over $20 million). This is a better hold than last week's, not unusual for a third weekend except when drops can be increased by the football competition. This is the first non-franchise film to be #1 for three weeks since "The Help" in 2011. A sequel is in the works, natch.
What comes next: $100 million will be passed by next weekend, and this will easily be one of the more profitable films of 2014.
2. Frozen (Buena Vista) Week 11; Last weekend #4
$9,310,000 (+2 ) in 2,754 theaters (-3); PSA: $3,381; Cumulative: $360,013,000
a "Sing Along" promotion at some theaters adding $2.2 million to the
take, Disney's unstoppable "Frozen" returned to #2 in its 10th weekend a
wide release and now in a fourth month, an incredible achievement. Now
just $8 million short of what "Despicable Me 2"'s domestic gross, soon
to be overtaken, this now has a shot of reaching that film's
international haul. Foreign added another $24 million, and with China
just about to open, this might end up as #2 worldwide among all
3. That Awkward Moment (Focus) NEW - Cinemascore: B; Criticwire: C-; Metacritic: 36
$9,010,000 in 2,809 theaters; PSA: $3,208; Cumulative: $9,010,000
A disappointing Saturday 5% drop from opening day (when most films had decent upticks) takes some of the bloom off the rose of what looked like a decent initial performance for this independent male-cast centered rom-com. Acquired by FilmDistrict for a reported $1.5 million plus a marketing commitment (production budget $8 million), then transferred to the Focus Features banner when FD's Peter Schlessel was brought in by Universal to take over the reins of their specialized branch, it looked like a smart move to open this weekend. That it topped Paramount and Jason Reitman's "Labor Day" head to head is clearly a victory of a sort, and the first day's gross in a tough weekend showed marketing finesse. But between the mostly negative reviews and apparent initial mixed word of mouth, the outlook is cloudier going forward.
Directed and written by first-timer Tom Gormican, with producers including Kevin Turen ("At Any Price," "Arbitrage"), its main hook was its trio of lead actors. For Zak Efron, this comes after four indie flops, but he has shown strength previously in this kind of story, although usually with a slightly younger appeal (and not R-rated). Michael B. Jordan ("Fruitvale Station") and Miles Teller ("Spectacular Now" and the Sundance breakout "Whiplash") seemed to add heft to the appeal. But ultimately the public makes the call, and with football competition today cutting into the gross, this looks to fall significantly short of opening weekend projections.
4. The Nut Job (Open Road) Week 3; Last weekend #3
$7,613,000 (-37) in 3,472 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $2,193; Cumulative: $50,246,000
The "Frozen" sing-along likely upped the competition this weekend, but Open Road has to be thrilled with the ongoing success of the lower budget foreign made independent animated hit.
What comes next: This will become the company's biggest grossing film during the week, and ultimately by some distance.
5. Lone Survivor (Universal) Week 6; Last weekend #2