Forget the September doldrums. Sony’s Brit boy band 3-D concert film “One Direction” was a solid number one. And major support came from four strong holdovers: “The Butler,” “We’re the Millers,” “Planes” and “Elysium.” All told, the three days will come in with about $84 million for the top 10, up $5 million from last year, and enough to increase the tiny year-to-date lead over 2012 that has taken eight months to achieve.
The big surprise this weekend: the outstanding showing of a narrowly released Mexican Spanish-language film, “Instructions Not Included,” which opened regionally, ending up at #5 with a staggering PSA of over $21,000.
Another foreign-language release, Weinstein’s “The Grandmaster” from China, fared less well, falling out of the top 10 with $2,446,000 in 742 theaters. Sony Pictures Classics “Blue Jasmine” held steady at around $4 million, already grossing over $20 million, even though it didn’t repeat in the top 10. Not doing at all well was Focus Features’ “Closed Circuit,” which only totaled $2,543,000 in 870 theaters.
1. One Direction: This Is Us (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 49
$17,000,000 in 2,735 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $6,216; Cumulative: $17,000,000
This $10-million 3-D concert-film starring the popular British group scored a solid take, combined with additional worldwide openings for a global $31 million. This will be an easy moneymaker for Sony, which has struggled much of the summer.
With Simon Cowell as one of the producers and documentarian Morgan Spurlock at the helm, this did less than some of the other recent concert films. Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never” remains the recent top opener ($29 million), but this came close to Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” ($23 million) and is almost triple what “Katy Perry: Part of Me” had its first weekend.
The full four-day figure will be almost double Spurlock’s previous best film total, “Super Size Me” ($11.5 million).
What comes next: This could be more front-loaded than other concert films, which have more than doubled their opening weekends over the course of their runs. Still, it’s a welcome hit single for Sony.
2. Lee Daniels’ The Butler (Weinstein) Week 3 – Last weekend #1
$14,742,000 (-11%) in 3,330 theaters (+220); PSA: $4,427; Cumulative: $74,007,000
Helped by another jump in theaters playing this breakout hit, “The Butler” now looks like it will pass $100 million — far beyond expectations — and could become the Weinstein Company’s biggest grossing film not released to coincide with awards attention. It has a shot of equaling “Inglourious Basterds” (which hit $120 million). With about 3/4s of what “The Help” had made at the same point in its run, it could end up near that’s film’s almost $170 million. There is a small chance this might leap ahead of “One Direction: This Is It” for the #1 slot for the four-day weekend.
What comes next: With all the attention given to the slew of new films at Venice and Telluride, this showing should remind people that not all contenders were first seen at festivals.
3. We’re the Millers (Warner Bros.) Week 4 – Last weekend #2
$12,610,000 (-3%) in 3,445 theaters (no change); PSA: $3,660; Cumulative: $109,565,000
You read right – this dropped only 3% for its fourth weekend, a tremendous showing for this word of mouth smash that now looks like it could top “The Heat,” another female-top lined film, as the biggest grossing comedy of the year.
What comes next: Not a lot of competition in comedies in September, so expect this to be top 10 the whole month.
4. Planes (Buena Vista) Week 4 – Last weekend #5
$7,756,000 (-10%) in 3,254 theaters (-119); PSA: $2,380; Cumulative: $73,800,000
This again was the go-to kids’ film, with a minor drop and now realistically a possible $100 million film, not bad for a project originally intended for DVD. It actually climbed a position this weekend.
What comes next: With no new animated films until “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” on September 27, this should stay in flight until it reaches $100 million.
5. Instructions Not Included (Panteleon/Lionsgate) NEW – Cinemascore A+:; Criticwire: D; No Metacritic score
$7,500,000 in 347 theaters; PSA: $21,614; Cumulative: $7,500,000
Almost entirely off the radar in the English language media, this film from Pantaleon, the partnership between Mexican media giant Televista and Lionsgate, came in with a huge response from its intended Latino market, playing in big cities nationally, but selectively in key areas. A comedy about an aging playboy who finds himself with a young child dropped off by a woman with whom he had a fling years before, it stars Eugenio Derbez, a huge star on Mexican TV who has done little work in the U.S. (with only minor supporting roles in English-language movies). Derbez also wrote and directed this, and the result was a huge PSA and a rare A+ CInemascore.
To put how big this is in context, the previous best release from this partnership was the Will Farrell-costarring “Casa de mi Padre,” which in a few more theaters took in $2.9 million its opening weekend. “Under the Same Moon” with America Ferrara, also in Spanish, managed $2.8 million in 266 theaters when Fox Searchlight released it in 2008. The three biggest Spanish language films in the U.S. — all from Mexico — benefited from major specialized and crossover success: “Pan’s Labyrinth” ($37 million), followed by “Like Water for Chocolate” and “Y Tu Mama Tambien.” “Instructions” looks like it could be headed to totals above all but “Pan’s.”
What comes next: Lionsgate is looking to expand this in some additional markets this weekend with around 100 new dates, but they expect the already successful theaters to maintain a strong PSA going ahead.
6. Elysium (Sony) Week 4 – Last weekend #7
$6,300,000 (-9%) in 2,539 theaters; PSA: $2,481; Cumulative: $78,400,000
What looked like a problem film (with its expense) is becoming a mild success for Sony, with a tiny drop this weekend suggesting real audience appeal and a combined worldwide total of $176 million much better than what appeared likely when this opened.
What comes next: This should solidify director Neill Blomkamp’s reputation as the top new sci-fi/action director since Christopher Nolan.
7. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (Sony) Week 2 – Last weekend #3
$5,200,000 (-44%) in 3,118 theaters; PSA: $1,668; Cumulative: $22,654,000
Though not a huge drop, this first entry in an expected series from German production company Constantin Films is still struggling to find much traction, falling below two films it outgrossed last weekend.
What comes next: With only marketing costs as its part of the deal, Sony could still come out OK for this.
8. The World’s End (Focus) Week 2 – Last weekend #4
$4,749,000 (-46%) in 1,553 theaters (+2); PSA: $3,065; Cumulative: $16,568,000
In a weekend with strong holdovers among the top films, it’s a bit of a surprise that this smart, funny Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg alien comedy didn’t do better. “We’re the Millers” likely proved tough competition, and the very British humor on display here also limited its appeal domestically.
What comes next: This has already bested the earlier “Shaun of the Dead” from the creative team, and looks likely to outdo “Hot Fuzz” before going on to a long life as a cult favorite.
9. Getaway (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: C+; Criticwire: D+ Metacritic: 22
$4,505,000 in 2,130 theaters; PSA: $2,115; Cumulative: $4,505,000
Labor Day weekend can serve as a way to take care of obligations for distributors, which is likely the case with this Joel Silver exec-produced Bulgarian-shot kidnap drama whose bottom of the barrel reviews contrast with the raves Warner’s soon to be released “Gravity” has been getting this weekend. With or without bad reviews, “Getaway,” starring Ethan Hawke (otherwise having a strong year) and Selena Gomez, this $18 million production might fare a bit better internationally.
For director Courtney Smith, this will fall short of the grosses for his previous successes “Dungeons and Dragons” and “An American Haunting.” For Silver, it’s a ironically titled end to a storied relationship with the Burbank studio, where for decades he was the go-to action producer on the lot.
What comes next: This won’t even get to $10 million domestic.
10. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (Twentieth Century Fox) Week 4 -Last weekend #8
$4,425,000 (-16%) in 2,393 theaters (-337); PSA: $1,849; Cumulative: $54,965,000
Another film holding well after a disappointing early showing, this is still less than 2/3s of the initial entry in the series at the same point, but with international totals now ahead of the domestic take, this at least gives the film a fighting chance to breaking even.
What comes next: This actually should stick around the top 10 for another week with limited competition in the family market.