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Top Ten Box Office: ‘Gravity’ Force Squashes Newbies ‘Fifth Estate,’ ‘Carrie,’ and ‘Escape Plan,’ Young Audiences Are MIA

Top Ten Box Office: 'Gravity' Force Squashes Newbies 'Fifth Estate,' 'Carrie,' and 'Escape Plan,' Young Audiences Are MIA

Where did the young audience go? That is the compelling — and scary — question for studios as another October weekend falls flat, even with strong turnout from the older demographic. The top ten came in at only $94 million, down from $112 last year, as kids failed to turn out for Sony’s disappointing “Carrie” reboot and grownup fare failed to pick up the slack.

Gravity” continues its extremely impressive performance, with another under 30% falloff, and “Captain Phillips” followed behind, also showing strength with a 33% fall from its solid first week. But other than the animated hit “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” (along with Sony’s “Phillips” and “Carrie”), everything else fizzled, with two other new films, “Escape Plan” and “The Fifth Estate,” not even scoring with adults.

November looks to have three potential blockbusters with strong youth appeal — “Ender’s Game,” “Thor 2” and most of all “Catching Fire.” But at this point nothing seems certain, with signs that one big segment of the movie going public has found other ways to entertain themselves.

Among new limited releases, Fox Searchlight’s “12 Years a Slave” soared with a just under $1 million take in only 19 theaters. More on this and other specialized grosses in Arthouse Audit shortly.

1. Gravity (Warner Bros.) Week 3; Last weekend #1

$31,030,000 (-28%) in 3,820 theaters (+160); PSA (per screen average): $8,123; Cumulative: $170,566,000

Overachieving for the third weekend in a row, “Gravity ” is the first 2013 film to hit #1 for three weeks in a row and the first to do so in October since 2004 (“Shark Tales”). After only three weekends, “Gravity” now has the highest unadjusted gross of any October release (2-D “Meet the Parents” in 2000 reached $166 million, which would be around $250 million today).

This is only the third non-summer or Thanksgiving/Christmas period film ever to top $30 million for a third weekend (“Passion of the Christ,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Hunger Games” were the previous; only “Alice” had 3-D surcharges) and the first between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. It only lags behind “Iron Man 3″‘s third weekend by $5 million, and way ahead of “Man of Steel,” which had fallen to $20.5 million by this point.

What comes next: “Gravity” dominates the country’s IMAX screens for only one more week — “Ender’s Game” lays claim on November 1 (IMAX grosses made up a staggering 30% of this weekend’s total).  But one way or another (3-D will continue indefinitely) this will be around for many weeks to come, with a fourth #1 ranking quite possible.

2. Captain Phillips (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend #2

$17,300,000 (-33%) in theaters (no change); PSA: $5,728; Cumulative: $53,300,000

A solid hold for this Paul Greengrass/Tom Hanks Somali pirate story that is grabbing strong adult audience response. With an above-average performance for a second week (those aimed at younger audiences fall at a faster pace), “Captain Phillips” takes second place due to “Carrie”‘s weakness. This bodes well for the film’s further life in theaters (it will easily pass $100 million) and enhances its awards cred down the line. With a thrifty budget of $55 million and international grosses likely to be even better, this is a badly needed hit for Sony, which took a creative risk with this film (as well as selecting the relatively early October release date).

What comes next: Next week, without a lot of new competition, this might drop even less as word of mouth keeps boosting this film.

3. Carrie (Sony)  NEW – Cinemascore: B-; Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 54

$17,000,000 in 3,157 theaters; PSA: $5,385; Cumulative: $17,000,000

The most significant statistic for this reboot of the horror classic could be that 44% of its audience was over 25. That signifies that its weakness comes from unexpected indifference from core younger moviegoers, who normally flock the first weekend to the latest genre film, even more so for the prime pre-Halloween weekend.

Over the last four years, this date was owned by the “Paranormal” franchise which earned weekend totals ranging from $21 million (for the first) to a high of $52.3 million. Five years ago, “Saw V” took in $30 million. All were R rated and aimed at males. “Carrie”‘s female skew failed to satisfy those who went in earlier years (as well a lack of awareness of the Brian De Palma/Stephen King classic).

This $30 million film (plus marketing costs) was produced by MGM (who picked up rights to the original) and Sony’s Screen Gems division. It seemed like a good bet, not only because of its pedigree and release date but also the consistent success of horror films this year (“Mama,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “Evil Dead,” “The Purge,” “The Conjuring,” “Insidious Chapter 2” all reached #1 their opening weekends). But the youth audience can be fickle, and this one didn’t boast the same appeal.

Incredibly, this film marks only the second studio initial wide release this year directed by a woman  (Tyler Perry’s “The Peeples” is the other). Kimberly Peirce, who first nabbed attention for “Boys Don’t Cry,” which launched the career of Oscar-winner Hilary Swank, and then stumbled with war-at-home drama “Stop-Loss,” seemed like a smart choice for this female-centric film. Stars Chloe Grace Moretz — more in line with the character’s age than the 26-year-old Sissy Spacek — and Julianne Moore played the roles that earned the original Spacek and Piper Laurie rare horror film Oscar nominations. Screen Gems kept the film back from critics until the last minute, a telling sign of lack of confidence. 

What comes next: International will have to be strong to make this into profit.

4. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Sony) Week 4; Last weekend #3

$10,100,000 (-27%) in 3,602 theaters (-272); PSA: $2,804; Cumulative: $93,137,000

Again gaining from being the only kids’ film in the market, Sony has a second hit film bunched around the disappointing “Carrie.” This is only $2.5 million behind the first “Cloudy” at the same point in the run, and even better for the studio, it had a budget about $20 million less.

What comes next: This should come close to “Cloudy”‘s $124 million total.

5. Escape Plan (Lionsgate) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Criticwire:B-; Metacritic: 48

$9,800,000 in 2,883 theaters; PSA: $3,399; Cumulative: $9,800,000

Lionsgate has had success recycling older action stars with their two “Expendable” films, but that didn’t bleed over to this first pairing of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Although it performed better than the two actors’ last solo films (“Bullet to the Head” and “The Last Stand” respectively), this is a rare major dud for Lionsgate (produced by their Summit division, along with Emmett/Furia Films). At a cost of around $70 million, this has a long way to go before coming close to breaking even.

The problem? Little younger appeal — 61% of the initial audience was over 30. And with reviews not so good, much of the adult audience had better alternatives, including two broad appeal ones in the top two positions.

Swedish director Mikael Hafstrom has had an uneven track record with his studio films after getting attention for his home country-made “Evil” a decade ago, with “1408” the highwater mark ($72 million), and “Derailed” and “The Rite” coming in at half or less. But all of them will be far ahead of what this will do domestically.

What comes next: Lionsgate has to hope international will respond much better. And they have “Ender’s Game” and “Catching Fire” to look forward to in November.

6. Prisoners (Warner Bros.) Week 5; Last weekend #6

$2,065,000 (-43%) in 2,160 theaters (-685); PSA: $2,065; Cumulative: $57,259,000

A very high ranking for a gross this low, but the lack of strength beyond the few top films helped this adult-audience thriller to grab some additional gross and hold more theaters than it might have otherwise.

What comes next: Not going to last much longer, but considering the draw that the top two films have, both also competing for adults, this isn’t a bad showing.

7. Enough Said (Fox Searchlight) Week 5; Last weekend #11

$1,800,000 (-57%) in 757 theaters (+151); PSA: $2,378:; Cumulative: $10,787,447

four spots despite falling from $1.9 million, the overall PSA drop of
around 33% isn’t bad at this point. And it still might not be at its
maximum theater count (though it is at risk of losing some of those
already playing).

What comes next: It won’t match the $20 million + of several earlier 2013 indie releases, but $15 million remains possible.

8. The Fifth Estate (Buena Vista) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Criticwire: C+; Metacritic: 50

$1,714,000 in 1,769 theaters; PSA: $969; Cumulative: $1,714,000

Launched as the opening night film at Toronto last month, following “Looper” last year (which went on to be a success for Sony), Disney and the film’s producers Dreamworks and Participant hoped it would propel this film about Wikileaks founder Julian Assange into awards consideration. Instead, it got a weak response, and it has been downhill ever since.

Director Bill Condon returned to his earlier roots with “Gods and Monsters” and “Kinsey” in making a biofilm about an assertive outsider challenging the rules of his business (in between he made “Dream Girls” and the last two “Twilight” entries, to great success). The result is one of the lowest grosses in recent years for a wide release studio film. Dreamworks seems to be in a feast or famine phase for its live action films — “The Help” and Spielberg’s “War Horse” and “Lincoln” delivered audiences, but the company has had little else to crow about since they switched from Paramount to Buena Vista for distribution. Social activist partner Participant Media (“An Inconvenient Truth,” “Waiting for Superman,” “No”) kicked in a portion of the $20 million budget. 

This also opened in the U.K. this weekend for a much better relative gross of $1,400,000, helped in part by the presence of Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead (who earned a Time takeout and international edition cover story and also co-stars in “12 Years a Slave,” also opening this weekend).

What comes next: Buena Vista will have a hard time holding some of these dates for even a second week.

9. Runner Runner (20th Century-Fox) Week 3; Last weekend #5

$1,625,000 (-%) in 2,011 theaters (-1,015); PSA: $808; Cumulative: $17,536,000

In top 10 only because of weak business.

What comes next: Ben Affleck does have a directing career to fall back on (plus his Superman role).

10. Insidious Chapter 2 Week 5; Last weekend #8

$1,533,000 in 1,665 theaters (-44%); PSA: $921; Cumulative: $80,923,000

Hanging around another weekend to add to its already great numbers.

What comes next: Many more chapters.

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