Box Office Top Ten: Action Holdovers and Animated Hits Edge Out Costly Bellyflop ‘I, Frankenstein’

Box Office Top Ten: Action Holdovers and Animated Hits Edge Out Costly Bellyflop 'I, Frankenstein'

Despite a flopping new wide release (“I, Frankenstein“), grosses for the Top 10 this weekend actually enjoyed a healthy jump over last year ($91 million up from $81), showing strength from two unexpectedly big Universal films (“Ride Along” and “Lone Survivor”), two animated features (“Frozen” and “The Nut Job”) and sustained interest in several Oscar contenders led by “American Hustle.”

A year ago, two horror-genre films ranked #1 and 2 as “Hansel and Gretel” and “Mama” grossed $32 million, a big chunk of the total. This year, a new horror film (“I, Frankenstein”) badly underperformed at number 6 with a miserable $8.3 million, even though its title character is the biggest one in Universal’s stable of scary icons.

The top films show a healthy diversity of subjects and appeal, although  the weak showing from the core younger audience continues to reveal a more serious problem ahead as older-appeal films wane going into the spring season.

1. Ride Along (Universal) Week 2 –  Last weekend #1

$21,200,000 (-49%) in 2,759 theaters (+96); PSA (Per screen average): $7,670; Cumulative: $75,400,000

The nearly 50% drop is the only minor tarnish to an otherwise continued strong showing for this Kevin Hart/Ice Cube comedy which has found unexpected success post-holidays (where the bigger than expected showing of “Anchorman 2” indicated a hunger for less sophisticated, broad humor). This still could come close to the typical three-times the opening weekend multiple (which would place this at a strong $120 million-plus), placing it above the usual performance for urban-based comedies led by African-American characters.

What comes next: This shows the appeal of working-class comedies (similar to Kevin James’ “Paul Blart” success) that seem to be underrepresented on the screen despite their success on network TV.

2. Lone Survivor (Universal) Week 5 – Last weekend #2

$12,600,000 (-43%) in 3,162 theaters (+173); PSA: $3,945; Cumulative: $93,600,000

Holding decently, this continues to be major success, at #2 in its third wide week ahead of all but one of the year’s other new releases and soon to be come the first $100 million film of 2014.

What comes next: This will take a Super Bowl hit next weekend, but still should easily hit $125 million or more.

3. The Nut Job (Open Road) Week 2 – Last weekend #3

$12,316,000 (-37%) in3,472 theaters (+45); PSA: $3,547; Cumulative: $40,271,000

Considering its bigger-than-expected opening and lack of pre-sold studio and/or sequel elements, this is a fine hold for this independently non-American animated feature. For upstart distributor Open Road, this could be their first break-out success after a series of eclectic low-budget acquisitions, and shows the value of their entree with the two biggest domestic exhibitors (Regal and AMC), who co-own this company. This might not win awards, but it should be around for weeks to come.

What comes next: Kid’s films tend to hold on longer than most releases, so this has a shot at approaching $100 million. Sequel, anyone?

4. Frozen (Buena Vista) Week 10; Last weekend #5

$9,035,000  (-23%) in 2,757 theaters (-222); PSA: $3,277; Cumulative: $347,816,000

Incredibly, this rose higher once again, with a minor drop, more impressive with this following a holiday weekend. Now over $800 million worldwide with a few territories still to open, this already massive hit is quickly heading to near the best of 2013 releases.

What comes next: This now looks likely to top Universal’s “Despicable Me 2” as the top domestic animated release to go along with its expected Oscar.

5. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (Paramount) Week 2 – Last weekend #4

$8,800,000 (-43%) in 3,387 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $2,598; Cumulative: $30,168,000

The drop isn’t catastrophic, but this remains an underperforming series reboot (unlike star Chris Pine’s “Star Trek” films).

What comes next: This will need much strong foreign results to make back its reasonable ($60 million) production cost.

6. I, Frankenstein (Lionsgate) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Criticwire: D+; Metacritic: 27

$8,275,000 in 2,753 theaters; PSA: $3,006; Cumulative: $8,275,000

Another weekend, another underachieving horror film. But this marks a more expensive ($65 million) failure than the recent “Paranormal Activity” sequel and “Devil’s Due” (at least before its international take). And for Lionsgate, flush from the ongoing success of “Catching Fire,” this marks their third straight underachiever (Tyler Perry’s recent “Madea,” “Legend of Hercules” and now this). Fortunately for them, all were independently produced, minimizing their risk. “I, Frankenstein” came from Lakeshore (recently successful with the “Underworld” films) and the recently formed Australian Hopscotch company (also involved with “Saving Mr. Banks”). Based on a graphic novel update of the classic horror character, the movie starred Aaron Eckhart (recently successful with “Olympus Has Fallen,” he has fanboy cred from his role in “The Dark Knight”).

Director Stuart Beattie has a track record as a screenwriter — the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series, a “G.I. Joe” entry, “Collateral” among others–this is his second feature. Lionsgate reports that 60% of the audience was over 25, meaning younger audiences (increasingly wary not only of horror films but also perhaps 3-D efforts) showed less than expected interest.

What comes next: This will disappear quickly, but its impact could cause other producers to think twice about more expensive throwaway horror entries.

7. American Hustle (Sony) Week 7; Last weekend #6

$7,100,000 (-28%) in 2,304 theaters (+100); PSA: $3,082; Cumulative: $127,039,000

By far the biggest beneficiary from the Oscar nominations, now only $5-million short of David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook” final domestic gross (including post-Jennifer Lawrence’sOscar  win) and with a long way to go. Only off 28%, this with audiences is on a roll at the right time even if the last two guilds didn’t reward it.

What comes next: With five weeks to go before the Oscars, this film’s best hope to remain in the race is likely Sony’s success in keeping this front and center with the public while its main contenders settle for much smaller current grosses later in their runs.

8. August: Osage County (Weinstein) Week 5; Last weekend #8

$5,041,000 (-32%) in 2,411 theaters (+360); PSA: $2,091; Cumulative: $26,527,000

theaters yet again, the gross kept at a respectable level despite
the lesser Oscar nomination haul than hoped due to the appeal of its
two lead actresses and continued strong commitment from the Weinstein
Company. The PSA fell about 40%, a better hold than many of the other
nominees, and otherwise a bit more impressive since it is playing wider
than many of them.

What comes next: Word of
mouth along with TWC marketing is keeping this afloat, but this still is
struggling to have the impact originally hoped for.

9. The Wolf of Wall Street (Paramount) Week 5; Last weekend #9

$5,000,000 (-29%) in 1,804 theaters (-176); PSA: $2,772; Cumulative: $98,030,000

Another strong hold for Martin Scorsese’s latest film, with international (mostly handled by other companies) now also grossing at similar levels.

What comes next: Though it is at the lower end of the top 10, this looks set for possible a further push (the Jonah Hill “Saturday Night Live” hosting last night with a DiCaprio appearance is part of that strategy).

10. Devil’s Due (20th Century Fox) Week 2; Last weekend #7

$2,750,000 (-50%) in 2,554 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $1,081; Cumulative: $12,886,000

Falling fast after its weak opening, this low-budget horror film is already at the end of its run at most theaters.

What comes next: If it is going to break even, international will have to outperform its domestic haul.

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