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Top Ten Weekend Box Office: Slump Continues, Lawrence vs. Gyllenhaal/Pena for Number One UPDATED

Box Office
by Tom Brueggemann
September 23, 2012 12:41 PM
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Clint Eastwood and Justin Timberlake in "Trouble with the Curve"

And, from a financial perspective, although the production cost for this has not been published, Eastwood's Malpaso is known for making economical films, far below industry average, so that even with marketing costs the domestic box office likely doesn't need to be anything near $100 million to be a success.

What it means: "Moneyball," another baseball-centered film, opened a year ago to an opening weekend of just under $20 on its way to $75 million domestic and $110 million total worldwide (the sport limiting interest in most markets). Based on these early numbers, this likely comes in less. Still, considering its star is 82 years old (has there ever been a wide release with a lead over 80?), other than the high standards set by earlier Eastwood films, this is still an impressive take.

4. Finding Nemo 3D (Buena Vista) - Week 2; Last Week: #2

$9,400,000 (-43%) in 2,904 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $3,253; Cumulative: $30,000,000

The 3-D reset of "The Lion King" not only opened much bigger than "Finding Nemo," but its second weekend only fell one-third, compared to 43% for "Finding Nemo." After a strong summer of multiple animation smashes, this counts as a disappointment.

What it means: Even still, the cost of the 3-D redo was minor relative to gross, and this performance - with most of the rest of the world yet to come - will not prevent future endeavors.

5. Dredd (Lionsgate) NEW - Cinemascore: B; Metacritic score: 57

$6,300,000 in 2,506 theaters; PSA: $2,514; Cumulative: $6,300,000

Lionsgate, which is having a strong year once again, is said to have acquired this British/South African production with a marketing commitment north of $20 million, an investment not looking lucrative with this weak initial gross (enhanced by 3-D ticket prices). From the same comic book series that the 1990s Sylvester Stallone "Judge Dredd" came from (that grossed an OK for its time $34 million for Disney), this was a test of star Karl Urban's ability to carry a potential action franchise after establishing himself as a memorable physical force in films like "Star Trek," "The Bourne Supremacy" and "Red" as well as leading roles in films like "Doom" and "Priest." These grosses won't help his cause.

For British director Pete Travis, who came out of the festival circuit with "Omagh" to make "Vantage Point" and then the barely released "Endgame," this also won't be the breakout success he likely wanted. (It also played at the recent Toronto Film Festival, in the Midnight section).

What it means: This has opened in the UK, to (relative to population) somewhat better results. For the producers (not Lionsgate, whose participation is limited to US/Canada) this could bear more fruit around the rest of the world.

6. Resident Evil: Retribution (Sony) Week 2 -  Last Weekend: #1

$6,700,000 (-68%) in 3,016 in theaters (+4); PSA: $647 Cumulative: $33,468,000

This is one of the bigger weekend falloffs for a #1 film in recent months, both in terms of PSA drop and position, but not much worse than  2010's "Resident Evil: Afterlife," so it doesn't come as a surprise, particularly competing against a strong new horror entry.

What it means: This has earned most of its domestic gross already. The foreign first week already had brought in $50 million though, so more from the franchise is likely.

7. The Master (Weinstein) Week 2 -  Last Weekend: #19

$5,000,000 (+579%) in 788 in theaters (+783); PSA: $6,345; Cumulative: $6,056,000

After its record setting NY/LA platform openings last week, and with reviews in new cities at the year's best level already established, Weinstein quickly turned this into a much wider film with multiple theaters in a wide range of cities nationwide.

The weekend result  is not at the same level of success as the extraordinary exclusives last week, but better than comparable films at this level of theater play. The gross is $1 million more than when "Moonrise Kingdom" first reached this level of playoff (the latter with 66 more theaters, and a PSA of $5,769 ). But that came in its sixth week of release, when many of the theaters had already been playing for a week or longer, so it isn't the ideal comparison. Director Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will Be Blood" at 885 theaters (its fifth week, boosted by multiple Oscar nominations) grossed $4.9 million for three days, again greatly expanding after having already been somewhat wide.

Though the reviews have been at the highest levels, some indications of a more love it/don't love it quite so much divide came in the weekday figures in NY/LA. From a $103,000 Monday, this fell steadily to $62,000 total in its five initial theaters. With a much wider release, though still drawing a sophisticated audience, this less striking performance isn't unexpected.

What it means: Per Weinstein, the game plan is to keep at this level of theaters or a bit higher, then return with an even wider awards run in early January, backed by more TV than this break, based on anticipating that this will be among the leaders in nominations and awards by that point.

8. The Possession (Lionsgate) Week 4 -  Last Weekend: #3

$2,630,000 (-54%) in 2,598 theaters (-262); PSA: $1,012; Cumulative: $45,280,000

Lionsgate likely didn't expect this to be a top 10 film in its fourth week.

What it means: This is all gravy by this point.

9. The Lawless (Weinstein) Week 4 -  Last Weekend: #4

$2,321,000 (-47%) in 2,614 theaters (-449); PSA: $888; Cumulative: $34,512,000

Still hanging in there, this Weinstein acquistion continues to hold on better than initially expected.

What it means: It's going to end up close to $40 million, quite good for an early September opening.

10. The Bourne Legacy (Universal) Week 7 - Last Weekend: #8

$1,650,000 (-44%) in 1,431 theaters (-739); PSA: $1,154; Cumulative: $110,400,000

The steady performance continues, as what once looked like a problem hitting $100 million in US/Canada now is a good deal beyond near the end of its run.

What it means: With $90 million additional in already and several major countries still to open, this series entry will be the first to do better overseas than at home, which helps chances that it there could be at least one more sequel.

Box Office
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  • curtis gomez | September 24, 2012 9:31 PMReply

    Ya no wonder when movie looks/sounds better on my home theater then in theatres that claims to have advance Digital Projection!!! Whom they are trying to fool? Save the money and rent it on blu-ray....

  • Tony | September 23, 2012 1:08 PMReply

    Stallone's "Judge Dredd" did NOT do OK for its time. It was a complete bomb for Disney and was another nail in Stallone's downward B.O. spiral. I think the problem with this weekend's grosses is more the franchise than Urban (who is still arguably untested at the B.O. as a solo act); not to mention the competition from "House at End of the Street." The masses didn't embrace the first Dredd, and they're not embracing this one despite some upbeat WOM coming out of a surprise Comic-con screening this year. The comic-book material for Dredd simply doesn't resonate here.

  • Tom Brueggemann | September 23, 2012 3:37 PM

    Thanks for the input Tony. "Judge Dredd" grossed $114 million worldwide in 1995, with the US being less than a third of the total. It was a very expensive film for its era, and indeed may have lost money for Disney. However, the ticket price-adjusted $68 million equivalent gross for today, on a theater-intake level, would still be considered on the level of "OK" or close. Stallone within a couple years plateued, but you are right that this string of movies was below the level at which, at least domestically, he had performed. However, "Cop Land" two years later, at a fraction of "Judge Dredd"'s gross did a good deal better, at least in the US.

  • Tony | September 23, 2012 1:09 PM

    And when I saw Stallone's downward B.O. spiral -- I'm talking about during the early 90s, not now during his "Expendables" era.

  • Dw Dunphy | September 23, 2012 1:05 PMReply

    Maybe, finally, audiences are starting to reject the depictions of tortured and victimized women...maybe.

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