The fall studio rush to release adult-oriented fare has begun, to continue through Christmas. Fall festival hits “Prisoners” went wide and “Enough Said” and “Rush” platformed before their expansions next week. Warner Bros.’ “Prisoners” performed in the range of past serious fare released on the same weekend. But the surprise of the weekend: Fox Searchlight’s James Gandolfini/Julia-Louis Dreyfus comedy “Enough Said,” which is a specialized release with possible crossover potential, grossed significantly better than Ron Howard’s European-set car race film “Rush,” positioned as wide break next week. It may be that “Enough Said” has more Oscar potential than the Ron Howard film.
The other new wide release, Sony’s “Battle of the Year,” ended up only #5 with a weak $5 million. Much of the weekend’s strength came from four strong holdover performers — “Instructions Not Included,” “We’re the Millers,” “The Butler” and “Planes,” all of which continue to build on their ongoing success.
The total for the top 10 — $72 million — was about equal to the same weekend last year as 2013 continues to gross just slightly ahead of last year.
(Much more on “Enough Said” and “Rush” in Arthouse Audit later.)
1. Prisoners (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 74
$21,430,000 in 3,260 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $6,574; Cumulative: $21,430,000
While the kidnap drama failed to beat last weekend’s $41 million opening for “Insidious Chapter 2,” for an early fall more adult-oriented film this was fairly impressive. This Hugh Jackman/Jake Gyllenhaal thriller opened more than 50% better than the latter’s “End of Watch” did exactly one year ago, and more significantly about $3 million ahead of Ben Affleck’s “Argo” in early October. Aided by positive reviews and favorable Telluride/Toronto buzz, this first English language film from Quebecois director Denis Villeneuve (“Incendies”) has managed to gain attention from general audiences (without any initial platform run) and positions itself to grow if word of mouth is strong.
Produced by Warners’ partner Alcon Entertainment (“The Blind Side,” “Book of Eli”) for a modest $46 million, this lengthy two and a half hour thriller wasn’t on the radar to be one of the company’s top fall films until its sneak at Telluride in advance of its Toronto showing caught the media’s attention. This particular weekend has been the launching pad for other serious films aiming at awards — “Moneyball” two years ago ($19 million), “The Town” in 2010 ($23 million). “Prisoners” appears to have fit the bit successfully, at least so far.
What comes next: “Argo,” “Moneyball” and “The Town” all ended up with significant total grosses based on strong word of mouth, which remains the open question for this film. But this initial positioning has allowed it a chance to get ahead of several other soon to open adult dramas, giving it a better chance that it would have had with a later date.
2. Insidious Chapter 2 (FilmDistrict) Week 2 – Last weekend: #1
$14,500,000 (-64%) in 3,155 theaters (+106); PSA: $4,596; Cumulative: $60,855,000
With a second weekend more like producer Jason Blum’s recent “The Purge” (-76%) than director James Wan’s “The Conjuring” (-46%), this still managed #2 for the weekend and adds profit to this microbudget horror film. Happily for all concerned, the gross total now is already $10 million what the team’s early “Insidious” took in, even if that film had an impressive quadrupling of its much smaller opening weekend.
What comes next: This likely will fall a little short of $100 million (just like their sleeper hit “Olympus Has Fallen”), but these two films have elevated FilmDistrict’s presence as a strong distributor.
3. The Family (Relativity) Week 2 – Last weekend: #2
$7,000,000 (-50%) in 3,091 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $2,265; Cumulative: $25,641,000
Not a strong hold but not a complete collapse either for Luc Besson’s French-made comedy with an American cast, still good enough for #3 in a somewhat off weekend.
What comes next: Most of the world has yet to open, which will likely make this a more successful film.
4. Instructions Not Included (Lionsgate) Week 4 – Last weekend: #6
$5,700,000 (-17%) in 978 theaters (+45); PSA: $5,828; Cumulative: $34,262,000
Once again holding up well, actually jumping two spots in the top 10, and continuing to show the deep reserves of untapped interest from Mexican-American moviegoers, this has a shot of being even with adjusting grosses of becoming the highest grossing Spanish language film ever in the U.S.
What comes next: Lionsgate keeps adding theaters each week. Even if this is its widest run, it looks like it has a shot at over $50 million.
5. Battle of the Year (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Criticwire:C; Metacritic: 27
$5,000,000 in 2,008 theaters; PSA: $2,490; Cumulative: $5,000,000
Another underwhelming opening for Sony, though this break-dancing contest movie from their lower-budget Screen Gems division at least didn’t cost that much (around $20 million). This film follows in the wake of the much more successful “Stomp the Yard” (2007), also from Screen Gems, which opened to almost $22 million and ended up with almost triple that number.
This gross looks weak in comparison as well as to the similar “Step Up” series, the least of which opened to $11.7 million (the initial one over $20). So it was right to think the genre had room for another fresh entry. This one clearly wasn’t the right one.
Both films share appearances by Chris Brown. This one is based on director Benson Lee’s earlier documentary “Planet B-Boy” about a European dance contest. This is Lee’s third film – his first, “Miss Monday,” premiered at Sundance in 1998.
What comes next: This will disappear quickly and quietly.
6. We’re the Millers (Warner Bros.) Week 7 – Last weekend: #5
$4,670,000 (-14%) in 3,003 theaters (-235); PSA: $1,555; Cumulative: $138,176,000
amazing hold for this smash comedy, refusing to concede the top comedy
gross of 2013 to “The Heat,” and soon to be second only to “Man of
Steel” as Warner’s top domestic hit of the year — at a budget of $200 million less.
What comes next: This could be around for another month yet.
7. Lee Daniels’ The Butler (Weinstein) Week 6 – Last weekend: #4
$4,304,000 (-22%) in 2,931 theaters (-308); PSA: $1,468; Cumulative: $106,452,000
A miniscule drop as Lee Daniels’ film continues its strong performance and looks to maintain a presence into the fall.
What comes next: This could end up as the highest domestic gross of any of Weinstein’s Oscar contenders despite being released without the parallel boost of the awards period.
8. Riddick (Universal) Week 3 – Last weekend: #3
$3,700,000 (-46%) in 3,022 theaters (-95); PSA: $2,490; Cumulative: $37,200,000
Vin Diesel’s action sequel held up a bit better its third week, but still looks like it is nearing the end of its run.
What comes next: Internationally looks to do somewhat better, making this a likely break even film for Universal.
9. The Wizard of Oz (Warner Bros.) REISSUE
$3,022,000 in 318 theaters; PSA: $9,503; Cumulative: $3,022,000
into 3-D, and then playing at only IMAX locations, this higher
ticket-priced reissue of the MGM classic did OK business ahead of its
Oct. 1 home video (including 3-D) release, though considering the
non-stop presence of the film since 1939, this still is more impressive
than the PSA suggests.
What comes next: This is intended as a one-week run, with the marketing expense also benefiting the home video sales ahead.
10. Planes (Buena Vista) Week 7 – Last weekend: #7
$2,861,000 (-8%) in 2,446 theaters (-293); PSA: $1,170; Cumulative: $86,500,000
Another week with a great hold as the wide release default kids’ film around continues to perform better than expected. With much of the world still to open, this film that was originally planned for straight-to-DVD looks like it could reach $200 million worldwide – and then add DVD sales.
What comes next: “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” next weekend will finally provide some real competition.