For theaters, Super Bowl Weekend is sometimes an early Valentine’s Day, as the week’s new releases tend to have a rom-com theme. This year is no different, with both new wide releases — “That Awkward Moment” (Focus) and “Labor Day” (Paramount) — meant as counter-programming against the football hoopla. Despite this, the #1 for yesterday was, for the third straight Friday, “Ride Along” (Universal) at $4 million, just beating out “Awkward” ($3,943,000), with the former projected to win the full weekend.
“Awkward” is the first film released by the revamped Focus (a division of Universal), although its roots were at FilmDistrict–now absorbed into Focus–which acquired the independently-made comedy starring Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller prior to the move. It looks, with its modest budget, like a successful rollout for the revamped company.
With a much higher profile featuring writer/director Jason Reitman, stars Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, an earlier festival launch and one-week LA awards qualifying run, “Labor Day” fared much less well. It came in at #5 for the day with $1,930,000. This looks to be the second of Reitman’s films (after “Young Adult”) to fall far short of the breakout successes of “Juno” and “Up in the Air.”
For the full weekend, it will lag behind two still strong animated films. “Frozen” (Buena Vista) is being offered with “sing along” showings at some theaters to entice young fans back for another go-round. It was #4 yesterday at $2,224,000, but should reach at least #3 for the full weekend, ahead of “Lone Survivor” (Universal), still strong at $2.3 million (it will pass $100 million today). “The Nut Job” (Open Road) was #7 yesterday ($1,763,000), but should rise above at least “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” (Paramount), which was slightly more with $1,780,000.
The rest of the top 10 — all grossing roughly between $1.1 and $1.3 million — were “American Hustle,” (Sony) “Wolf of Wall Street” (Paramount) and “I, Frankenstein” (20th Century-Fox). Weinstein’s “August: Osage County” is just below and might eke out a tenth place for the weekend.
Overall, Top 10 business came in at around $21 million, down about 10% from last year which, if this plays out for the whole weekend, will make this the first of 2014 to fall short, not a good sign with the Winter Olympics just around the corner.