Even with inclement weather in the eastern half of the country cutting into attendance, the top 10 came in $4 million ahead of last year. This despite the relative shortfall from this year’s standard first weekend opening of a new horror film. “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” failed to land the #1 spot, unlike two similar films in the last two years, while grossing far below the level for previous entries in its series. This allowed Disney’s “Frozen” to return to the #1 spot for the second time in its seven-week run.
The box office continues to get a boost from a wide range of appealing films. Seven of the top 10 have either passed $100 million or are likely to cross that threshold (last year it was four). The best hold among these came from Martin Scorsese’s much-debated “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which is gaining steam from the controversy around it. But half of the top 10 fell less than 30% from the post-Christmas weekend, a very strong showing for a wide group of films.
Two other Christmas releases — Universal’s disastrous “47 Ronin” and 20th Century Fox’s “Walking With Dinosaurs”– fell out of the top 10. Not everything clicked this season.
Two second-week platform films playing held well in New York/Los Angeles (both open wide next week), with “Lone Survivor” dropping only 18% and “August: Osage County” dropping 21%. More on these and other limited films in Arthouse Audit.
1. Frozen (Buena Vista) Week 7 – Last weekend #2
$20,722,000 (-28%) in 3,318 theaters (-17); PSA (per screen average): $6,245; Cumulative: $297,838,000
Films have been #1 in their seventh week (often they are directed by James Cameron), but to return to #1 this late is unusual (last achieved by another Disney animated film, “Aladdin” 20 years ago). This is actually only its second week in the position – it was beaten out by “Catching Fire” in its first week of wide release, then topped by “The Hobbit” since that film opened. It is also the first time a film that opened in November was still #1 in the New Year since “Aladdin.” Worldwide is up to $640 million. This was expected to be successful, but the level of its appeal has far exceeded anticipation.
What comes next: Not likely to repeat as #1, but this could hover in the top 5 for several weeks to come.
2. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (Paramount) NEW – Cinemascore: C-; Criticwire: C+; Metacritic: 44
$18,200,000 in 2,867 theaters: PSA: $6,348; Cumulative: $18,200,000
Despite the strong overall grosses this weekend, if there was a minor glitch it is the below-expected total for this first-of-the-year horror film. The horror genre, mostly low-budget films, took in about $750 million in total gross last year, usually with strong opening weekends with quick drops that leave everyone with a profit. This latest entry in the “Paranormal” series (with a story and cast reset) suffered a sharp drop from the first four (two grossed over $100 million) as well as the last iteration’s $29 million opening. The films have owned the prime Halloween playtime in most recent years. But this post-New Year’s weekend fell off from the last two years — last year “Texas Chainsaw” grossed $21.7 million, with “The Devil’s Inside” two years ago taking in $33.7. With the built-in history of this franchise, this drop is notable. Later-year horror releases such as “Purge” and “Insidious 2” opened in the mid 30s or more, so the genre remained strong throughout the year.
Producer Oren Peli oversaw the film once again, and director Christopher Landon (son of “Bonanza”‘s Michael Landon) wrote three earlier entries. The story and cast were recast with a Latino flavor (which worked well for the most recent “Insidious” film). However, whatever the reason, the C- Cinemascore alone would suggest a quick fall-off–starting earlier than usual.
What comes next: A second week then likely gone. This successful series needs retooling if it is to continue.
3. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Warner Bros.) Week 4 – Last weekend #1
$16,250,000 (-44%) in 3,730 theaters (-198); PSA; $4,357; Cumulative: $229,634,000
After a three-week run in first place, Peter Jackson’s middle film of his current trilogy drops to third, but is still accumulating strong grosses. At this point it is around $50 million behind last year’s entry on the same weekend, but that only makes it a slightly less successful film.
What comes next: This could stick around the top 10 for another month as well.
4. The Wolf of Wall Street (Paramount) Week 2 – Last weekend #5
$13,400,000 (-27%) in 2,557 theaters (+20); PSA: $5,241; Cumulative: $63,295,000
After some initial concerns when it seemed to drop after opening Christmas Day, with a degree of controversy swirling around its content, this weekend’s performance should go a long way to allaying concerns about this film’s long-term chances. It outgrossed two films it trailed last weekend (“American Hustle” and “Anchorman 2”) with a small drop from last weekend and a total gross which puts it well on its way to $100 million+. These results also really make the initial Cinemascore of C seem preposterous.
What comes next: With most major foreign territories only starting to open, the final verdict on this somewhat expensive ($100 million) project will come when those figures are added. But this looks on its way to success, a welcome return to form for Martin Scorsese after the losses “Hugo” sustained, and another sign of Leo DiCaprio’s continued draw.
5. American Hustle (Sony) Week 4 – Last weekend #4
$13,200,000 (-29%) in 2,518 theaters (+11); PSA: $5,242; Cumulative: $88,700,000
Another good hold, with every indication that this will be the biggest hit of David O. Russell’s career even before its anticipated awards haul really gets started. The Christmas release and early rollout is working well for Sony, as this should stay in the top 10 into February, as Oscar voting is underway.
What comes next: Producer Megan Ellison brought this in for a reported $40 million, making this a major financial success as well as the success d’estime that some of her other films have been (“The Master,” “Zero Dark Thirty.”) Her other current production “Her” goes wide this weekend head-to-head with this.
6. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Paramount) Week 3 – Last weekend #3
$11,100,000 (-29%) in 3,407 theaters (-100); PSA: $3,258; Cumulative: $109,180,000
Coming down to earth a week later than expected, and still with a solid gross, this very successful sequel hit all of its marks and then some. It looks to become Will Ferrell’s biggest hit since “Talladega Nights” in 2006.
What comes next: This should end up around $125 million, way ahead of the original “Anchorman,” even adjusting for inflation.
7. Saving Mr. Banks (Buena Vista) Week 4 – Last weekend #6
$9,075,000 (-33%) in 2,110 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $4,292; Cumulative: $66,020,000
Another modest post-holiday fall, and critically important, doing well enough to keep on screen for weeks ahead as its likely awards attention should give it more traction ahead.
What comes next: This still has room to expand with only 2,110 runs apart from additional weeks at most of the current total, making $100 million + (and likely by a substantial margin) certain.
8. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (20th Century-Fox) Week 2 – Last weekend #7
$8,200,000 (-36%) in 2,922 theaters (+13); PSA: $2,806; Cumulative: $45,669,000
Though still lagging behind expectations, Ben Stiller’s “Mitty” has accumulated a not inconsequential gross 12 days into its run. Still, placing behind “Anchorman 2” doesn’t impress. This will need to keep from falling at the same rate if it is going to sustain any sort of run that could get this into profit (the reported production cost was $90 million).
What comes next: International is also in its early stages ($27 million for Christmas week in the first wave of territories), but Stiller’s biggest hits (the “Fockers” and “Museum” films) have done even better foreign than domestic, so this could still end up with decent totals.
9. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Lionsgate) Week 8 – Last weekend #8
$7,400,000 (-26%) in 2,143 theaters (-172); PSA: $3,453; Cumulative: $407,488,000
In a few days this will become the biggest grossing 2013 release (replacing “Iron Man 3”), as well as top the gross of the first film in the series.
What comes next: This franchise now rivals the best of Marvel in terms of expectations. Two more films are in the works, and it would be surprising to see an attempt to keep it going, depending on red-hot Jennifer Lawrence’s interest in continuing.
10. Grudge Match (Warner Bros.) Week 2 – Last weekend #11
$5,410,000 (-23%) in 2,856 theaters (+18); PSA: $1,894; Cumulative: $24,920,000
The best holding film in the top 10, a positive sign for this Stallone/DeNiro comedy, but it comes from a weak opening, leaving this still short of expectations.
What comes next: With four new wide releases this week (including Warner’s own expansion of “Her”), this is going to have to fight to stay on screen to give it any chance of building on word of mouth that seems to be helping this.