Led by three strong films at the top, this usually soft pre-Halloween weekend top 10 soared to around $93 million, up from $75 million last year. With Paramount’s “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” at #1 with a strong $32 million, and both “Gravity” and “Captain Phillips” holding well, moviegoers are showing interest in a select number of films.
Several weak offerings–among them Fox’s “The Counselor,” which dropped to the low end among Ridley Scott’s recent films, and recent openings “The Fifth Estate” and “Machete Kills,” which dipped far below the top 10 — allowed Fox Searchlight with far fewer theaters to place two films in the top tier. The surprisingly strong “12 Years a Slave” placed #8 in only 123 theaters while sturdy women’s picture “Enough Said” is having a longer life than earlier grosses suggested.
Among limited openings, IFC’s much-discussed NC-17 Cannes prize-winner “Blue Is the Warmest Color” took in $101,000 in only four New York/Los Angeles theaters, strong for a subtitled film even before the challenge of a three hour running time. More on this in Arthouse Audit shortly.
1. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Paramount) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Criticwire: C+; Metacritic: 54
$32,000,000 in 3,336 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $9,592; Cumulative: $32,000,000
Veering from the previous “Jackass” formula of episodic gross-out stunts of the “can you top this” variety to creating a storyline of sorts (co-written by producer Spike Jonze, normally associated with tonier efforts like the forthcoming “Her”), this comedy about an 86-year-old granddad on the road with his 8-year-old grandson rose above expectations to score a solid #1 this weekend. Still full of raunchy pranks and unsuspecting bystanders (it doesn’t stray far from the formula) and starring a heavily-made-up Johnny Knoxville, it didn’t equal the surcharged enhanced “Jackass 3D” three years ago (which opened to $50 million), but outpaced the first two by some distance. Most importantly for box office watchers, it managed to bring back the younger male audience that has stayed away most of the fall and helped to contribute to a rare recent good-sized top 10 uptick.
Economically made by director Jeff Tremaine (veteran of the other entries) for $15 million, the shocker is that this marks Paramount’s sixth release of 2013–and their first since “World War Z” in June. To their credit, three of their releases did pass $100 million (and more worldwide), while the other two were lower budget fare. All, including “Grandpa,” were moneymakers, suggesting that they are maximizing their efforts even as they release fewer films. But that’s a lot of pricey overhead. The studio also lost one more 2013 slot as they pushed one big potential moneymaker into 2014, the newest Tom Clancy franchise reboot, “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” starring Chris Pine, to make room for Martin Scorsese’s delayed “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Other las quarter releases include “Nebraska,” “Anchorman 2,” and “Labor Day.”
What comes next: This isn’t likely to get near $100 million (the previous films failed to triple their opening weekends), but the initial take is plenty to make all involved happy.
2. Gravity (Warner Bros.) Week 4 – Last weekend #1
$20,300,000 (-32%) in 3,707 theaters (-113); PSA: $5,476; Cumulative: $199,814,000
Down less than a third again (a much better than average hold), $8 million more than “Argo,” which was #1 last year on the same weekend, and about to pass $200 million, “Gravity” finally fell from #1 after three weekends. When international reports, the worldwide total should be somewhere around $350 million with several important territories yet to open.
What comes next: “Enders Game” has a claim on many of the prime IMAX screens that have bolstered “Gravity”‘s gross and presentation, but nothing should prevent this blockbuster from continuing on most other screens through the lucrative Thanksgiving weekend.
3. Captain Phillips (Sony) Week 3 – Last weekend #2
$11,800,000 (-28%) in 3,143 theaters (+123); PSA: $3,754; Cumulative: $70,074,000
This held even better this weekend than last, as word of mouth continues to boost the fortunes of this Tom Hanks-starring Somali pirate thriller. Last weekend dropped 36%. This boosted its theater count, but the hold comes mainly from continued strong audience reaction amid a lack of competition from other new films.
What comes next: This looks like it will hold through Thanksgiving at most theaters and enter the awards season with far over $100 million at the box office and a strong image as a popular as well as critical choice.
4. The Counselor (20th Century-Fox) NEW – Cinemascore: D; Criiticwire: B-; Metacritic: 49
$8,000,000 in 3,044 theaters; PSA: $2,628; Cumulative: $8,000
While “Bad Grandpa” soared this weekend, the other new opening was created by two men of grandfather age. Ridley Scott is 75, Cormac McCarthy — with his first original screenplay — 80. This intricate international crime thriller with an all-star cast managed to divide critics and, based on its Cinemascore, alienate audiences to reach a soft $8 million first weekend total, a rare miss for Scott, who has totaled over $100 million domestic alone for three of his last four films (“Prometheus,” “Robin Hood” and “American Gangsters.”)
With a reported bargain-basement production cost of $25 million (with marketing in the U.S. alone likely approaching that number), this coproduction (besides Fox, the Seelig Group and Ingenious Media shared the cost) won’t be a total debacle. International will likely end up a bit better than the sub-$20 million domestic total. But for a film from the author of “No Country for Old Men,” and starring Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, and Penelope Cruz to do this bad shows major miscalculation on all fronts.
Curiously, this is the second film in two weeks to open wide and not do well that stars three of the cast of “12 Years a Slave.” Pitt, Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Fifth Estate”) can share in the glory of that initial success while moving on from their much wider flops.
What comes next: The indefatigable Scott is currently shooting the big-budget “Exodus” and has a “Blade Runner” sequel planned (he seems to have the next couple decades of his life already in the production pipeline), so this will be just a brief bump in the road for him.
5. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Sony) Week 5 – Last weekend #5
$6,100,000 (-37%) in 3,111 theaters (-491); PSA: $1,961; Cumulative: $100,611,000
It’s good to stand alone as the sole animated film in the market. “Cloudy 2” now has passed the $100 million mark, not far behind where its predecessor was at this point ($108 million) and looking to add more before Thanksgiving.
What comes next: At this level, more than a chance of more “Meatballs.”
6. Carrie (Sony) Week 2 – Last weekend #3
$5,900,000 (-63%) in 3,157 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $1,869; Cumulative: $26,021,000
A big drop from a weaker-than-expected opening for this classic horror film remake, with not even being the sole new scary film out pre-Halloween helping much,
What comes next: “Carrie Goes to College” now very unlikely.
7. Escape Plan (Lionsgate) Week 2 – Last weekend #4
$4,340,000 (-56%) in 2,833 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $1,505; Cumulative: $17,424,000
Two other old-timers not faring at all well, as the Schwarzenegger/Stallone pairing that in their prime might have been the #1 film of the year will struggle to stay in the top 10 more than three weeks.
What comes next: It’s been a great run for both stars, but both, at least as lead action stars, will struggle to maintain that position.
8. 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight) Week 2 – Last weekend #16
$2,150,000 (+133%) in 123 theaters (+104); PSA: $17,480; Cumulative: $3,410,000
This is another strong showing for Steve McQueen’s acclaimed but tough drama, with the PSA showing continued strength in a wide variety of cities and theaters while still in somewhat limited release. And it gets the bonus of a #8 place, due not only to its own success but also the overall market weakness. (Last year, for example, in an overall weaker market, this gross would have placed #14).
Comparisons can be arbitrary and imperfect, and all credit should be given to the Searchlight team for maximizing interest so far in this film. But although these are fine grosses, they aren’t record-breaking or phenomenal. “Precious,” which doubled “12 Years”‘ opening PSA in similar theaters its first weekend, grossed $5.9 million its second stanza in 174, for a PSA almost double ($33,762) in 51 more theaters (and a #3 placement). “Blue Jasmine” in about the same number of theaters (119) in its third weekend made $2,345,000 (PSA $19,709) to be #12. Those films were both major specialized successes ($47 and $32 million respectively, the latter still in release).
“12 Years” seems to be headed that way as well, at least based on early results. But at this point it appears that this is more likely to perform like other Picture contenders “The Artist” ($44 million) than, say, “Slumdog Millionaire” ($141 million). Those films, and many other top Oscar contenders, maximized their grosses by riding a late year and January wave of awards and nominations as they hit their maximum depth in the market. With its earlier release, clearly successful so far, Searchlight will have the awards field mainly to itself throughout November, and then have to count on a return wider break in the new year to get it above what “Precious” and “Blue Jasmine” have done.
What comes next: The #8 showing does the job — very important for its awards chances — of enhancing the valid perception that this is a popular success so far, which has not been assumed as automatic. These grosses ensure further exhibitor interest and wider awareness for the film, all of which will help add to these already good totals and enhance its status as an Oscar frontrunner.
9. Enough Said (Fox Searchlight) Week 6 – Last weekend #7
$1,555,000 (-11%) in 835 theaters (+78); PSA: $1,862; Cumulative: $13,021,000
Once again, “Enough Said” makes the top 10 at a gross that usually wouldn’t qualify, but what is more important is that it continues to add to its decent total so far and is positioned to continue on for a few more weeks.
What comes next: This might be its maximum theater count, but expect it to get closer to $20 million than seemed possible even a couple weeks ago.
10. Prisoners (Warner Bros.) Week 6 – Last weekend #6
$1,063,000 (-49%) in 1,347 theaters (-813); PSA: $789; Cumulative: $59,122,000
The lack of recent hits — “The Fifth Estate” from last week and “Machete Kills” from two weeks back no longer in the top 10, few new releases — account for a low gross like this still placing after a decent run.
What comes next: International is opening more slowly, but when done should do enough that ultimately this will make a profit.