A lot of people went out to see the movies with some
doing better than others, an unexpected surprise here and there, a flop and one
The battle for first place was between The Hobbit, Disney’s Frozen and Anchorman 2, and they wound up in that exact
order, with Hobbit doing almost $30 million over the weekend, Frozen with $28.8 million and Anchorman 2
with just over $20 million.
Martin Scorsese’s The
Wolf of Wall Street, which actually came very close to beating The Hobbit as the biggest grossing film on Christmas Day, did much better than even I
expected, with $34 million so far
since Xmas. A surprise, especially considering the film’s subject matter, its
hard R rating and the fact the film runs just a minute shy of three hours.
The film has so far gotten a reaction from people split right down the middle, between those who absolutely love it (like me – possibly my favorite film of 2013) and who those who hate it, calling it
self-indulgent, debauched and Scorsese simply recycling himself. We’ll have to
wait and see how the film will hold up over the next few weeks, but it’s no
doubt certain to do well overseas, considering both Scorsese and DeCaprio are big
draws in foreign territories.
Hustle is the third b.o. hit in a row for writer/director David O. Russell, with over $60 million so far, and Saving Mr. Banks improved sharply, opening
in more theaters with $14 million
for a $37.8 million so far. Ben Stiller’s remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty has made a
respectable $25 million to date,
coming in at 6th place.
One surprise is that A
Madea Christmas actually held on pretty solidly, dropping off only 11% compared to the previous week’s 50% drop off.
The big flop this Xmas holiday was the De Niro/Stallone/Kevin Hart comedy Grudge Match which pulled in $13.4 million,
much less than anticipated. After some very positive test screenings, Warners
was convinced they had a big hit on their hands and pushed up the film’s original
release date, from early 2014 to the Xmas holiday. Obviously it was a bad move.
And the Bollywood film I profiled last Sunday, Dhoom 3, continues to be a huge
worldwide hit – the third biggest grossing Bollywood film to date making, so far, $58 million, and it’s still scheduled to open in other foreign
territories including Maldives, Rwanda,
Egypt, Germany, Peru, Romania, Japan, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan
(For the record the biggest worldwide Bollywood hit to
date is 2013’s action comedy film Chennai
Express, which grossed $60 million
worldwide – $11 million of that in
the U.S. – a figure that Dhoom 3 will far and away surpass, making it the biggest grossing Bollywood film ever.
One very mild surprise was the $20 million weekend gross for 47
Ronin which was expected to do half that number. But that’s not enough to
help the film becoming a huge bust at the box office.
The film, which was originally scheduled to come out in November 2012, went through endless rewrites
and reshoots after the studio saw the original finished product and wasn’t
happy at all.
In fact, there were so many delays and postponements during the reshoots that the film’s promoted star (actually supporting player) Keanu Reeves actually had time to direct and star in another film, The Man from Tai-Chi, which was released a few months ago.
Most of the failure fell on the shoulders of Russian director Carl Rinsch, who previously had only a three short films to his
credit and yet Universal thought he
was qualified enough to direct the huge samurai project originally
budgeted at $175 million which later
ballooned to $225 million after all was
said and done. And the studio knew they had a loser on their hands since there
were no advance screenings for the media. The first time I can
remember when any film with that large a budget was not screened for the media
Based on the famous Japanese legend Chūshingura, about a group of renegade samurai on a mission to avenge
the death of their master, and which has been the subject of numerous previous Japanese
films since silent era, and numerous TV versions, the studio thought there was a
market for an oversaturated CGI’d version that veered from the story and with
the added character of a half English/half Japanese ex-slave played by Reeves who is, of course, not in
the original story.
Still Universal took the rare step, publicly
declaring the film a box office bust, and wrote it off the books as a
financial loss just the day after the
Xmas opening day numbers came out.
Their decision to do that was also influenced by the fact
that the film completely tanked in Japan (where they thought the film would do
solid business) a few weeks ago. As a result, 47 Ronin is being
called the biggest final flop of 2013, already an extraordinary year of huge
financial flops such as The Lone Ranger,
Ender’s Game, The Fifth Estate, R.I.P.D, among several others.
If you really want to see a film version of the legend, check out
director Kon Ichikawa’s 1994 version,
or Takashi Miike’s awesome 47 Ronin-inspired 2010 13 Assassins.
Long Walk To Freedom has earned $4,731,000 on just 970
screens, and 12 Years A Slave is now
at $37.8 million to date, and I’m
still projecting a final gross of $46-50
million for the film.