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Super Bowl Weekend Saved by Strong Holdovers ‘Ride Along’ and ‘Frozen;’ ‘Labor Day’ Opens in Seventh Place

Super Bowl Weekend Saved by Strong Holdovers 'Ride Along' and 'Frozen;' 'Labor Day' Opens in Seventh Place

Despite two new disappointing films (“That Awkward Moment” from Focus and “Labor Day” from Paramount), holdovers sustained this typically low-grossing Super Bowl weekend. Universal sleeper hit “Ride Along” and Disney’s unstoppable “Frozen” led the way to a Top 10 that totaled $67 million, up slightly from last year, and continuing the steady improvement so far in 2014. With the Winter Olympics the next outside competition, this is a hopeful sign that the depth of appeal of current releases (including several Oscar contenders continuing to draw) along with some stronger new films ahead could continue the recent positive trends.

1. Ride Along (Universal) Week 3 – Last weekend #1

$12,300,000 (-42%) in 2,867 theaters (+108); PSA (per screen average): $4,295; Cumulative: $93,000,000

Considering it’s Super Bowl weekend, this is a terrific hold for the third week of this Kevin Hart-starring comedy — its third week at #1. It bests any holdover gross from a year ago (“Hansel and Gretel”‘s second weekend was $13 million, down 53%, though the #1 film, “Warm Bodies” was considerably better, just over $20 million). This is a better hold than last week’s, not unusual for a third weekend except when drops can be increased by the football competition. This is the first non-franchise film to be #1 for three weeks since “The Help” in 2011. A sequel is in the works, natch.

What comes next: $100 million will be passed by next weekend, and this will easily be one of the more profitable films of 2014.

2. Frozen (Buena Vista) Week 11; Last weekend #4

$9,310,000 (+2 ) in 2,754 theaters (-3); PSA: $3,381; Cumulative: $360,013,000

a “Sing Along” promotion at some theaters adding $2.2 million to the
take, Disney’s unstoppable “Frozen” returned to #2 in its 10th weekend a
wide release and now in a fourth month, an incredible achievement. Now
just $8 million short of what “Despicable Me 2″‘s domestic gross, soon
to be overtaken, this now has a shot of reaching that film’s
international haul. Foreign added another $24 million, and with China
just about to open, this might end up as #2 worldwide among all

What comes next: Are there additional
scenes Disney can add in a few weeks? Nobody milks a success better
than Disney, but even by their standards this has been masterful.

3. That Awkward Moment (Focus) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Criticwire: C-; Metacritic: 36

$9,010,000 in 2,809 theaters; PSA: $3,208; Cumulative: $9,010,000

A disappointing Saturday 5% drop from opening day (when most films had decent upticks)  takes some of the bloom off the rose of what looked like a decent initial performance for this independent male-cast centered rom-com. Acquired by FilmDistrict for a reported $1.5 million plus a marketing commitment (production budget $8 million), then transferred to the Focus Features banner when FD’s Peter Schlessel was brought in by Universal to take over the reins of their specialized branch, it looked like a smart move to open this weekend. That it topped Paramount and Jason Reitman’s “Labor Day” head to head is clearly a victory of a sort, and the first day’s gross in a tough weekend showed marketing finesse. But between the mostly negative reviews and apparent initial mixed word of mouth, the outlook is cloudier going forward.

Directed and written by first-timer Tom Gormican, with producers including Kevin Turen (“At Any Price,” “Arbitrage”), its main hook was its trio of lead actors. For Zak Efron, this comes after four indie flops, but he has shown strength previously in this kind of story, although usually with a slightly younger appeal (and not R-rated). Michael B. Jordan (“Fruitvale Station”) and Miles Teller (“Spectacular Now” and the Sundance breakout “Whiplash”) seemed to add heft to the appeal. But ultimately the public makes the call, and with football competition today cutting into the gross, this looks to fall significantly short of opening weekend projections.

What comes next: With its low cost, this with any sort of second week hold still could be OK for Focus. In the meantime, the new team (who got “Olympus Has Fallen” up to almost $100 million last year) showed their new bosses they could open a film wide, even if it was a bit outside the normal Focus brand.

4. The Nut Job (Open Road) Week 3; Last weekend #3

$7,613,000 (-37) in 3,472 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $2,193; Cumulative: $50,246,000

The “Frozen” sing-along likely upped the competition this weekend, but Open Road has to be thrilled with the ongoing success of the lower budget foreign made independent animated hit.

What comes next: This will become the company’s biggest grossing film during the week, and ultimately by some distance.

5. Lone Survivor (Universal) Week 6; Last weekend #2

$7,200,000 (-44%) in 3,285 theaters (+123); PSA: $3,285; Cumulative: $104,900,000

Still solid in its fourth wide release week, passing $100 million, Peter Berg’s war rescue film now has outgrossed “Zero Dark 30” despite not remotely having the same level of critical acclaim or awards.

What comes next: Expect more military-themed projects ahead as once again middle America responded to a gritty, tough story that combined heroics with action.

6. Jack Ryan – Shadow Recruit (Paramount) Week 3; Last weekend #5

$5,400,000 (-41%) in 2,907 theaters (-480); PSA: $1,858; Cumulative: $38,968,000

The good news for Paramount is that the slower-opening international take is ahead of lagging domestic so far, with the chance still of breaking even (the $60 million budget is low for this kind of film). But this will struggle to come close to much more than $50 million stateside.

What comes next: Tough to see this being sustained as a franchise with this kind of response.

7. Labor Day (Paramount) NEW Cinemascore: B-; Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 51

$5,300,000 in 2,584 theaters; PSA: $2,051; Cumulative: $5,300,000

The first of Jason Reitman’s films to open wide (although this had a one-week qualifying run in Los Angeles in late December, with its only reward a Golden Globe nomination for Kate Winslet; his previous films had a normal initial-platform slower roll-out), this is a disappointing result that parallels the critical response, far below what most of his previous ones (including “Juno” and “Up in the Air”) received. Though Kate Winslet is one of the most acclaimed actresses of her time, she hasn’t been a major factor since her Oscar win (a more commercial project “Contagion” in 2011 was more of an ensemble piece, and “Carnage” made little impact), so this looked like a potential return to form. Instead, this is struggling to reach even the low level of Reitman’s last film, “Young Adult,” which ended up at $16.3 million. The comparisons are ugly for “Labor Day.” “Adult” opened limited in mid-December 2011, then in only a bit more than a third as many theaters on a usually weak pre-Christmas weekend grossed $3.4 million, for a PSA of $3,451, much better than for this wider run, then benefited from the later holiday playtime. This at least went up Saturday from Friday, suggesting that it might have some life left, but clearly this is a disappointing response.

Reitman makes economical films, but even at a thrifty $18 million, the added cost of the wide release will make this a financial loss for them and co-producers Indian Paintbrush (who also are associated with Wes Anderson’s recent films as well as Reitman’s last film and “Stoker” – all risky but interesting projects). This was a straightforward romantic drama without the comedic elements that elevated his previous successes.

Winslet has a co-starring role in the bigger budget “Divergent” coming up in three weeks, so this might be a temporary blip on her radar. Costar Josh Brolin hasn’t had a big hit since “True Grit,” with both “Oldboy” and “Gangster Squad” as 2013 disappointments.

What comes next: Next weekend will show if the Saturday increase might suggest some decent word of mouth. But unless it recovers quickly, this will be off screen soon after.

8. American Hustle (Sony) Week 8; Last weekend #7

$4,300,000 (-39%) in 2,216 theaters (-88); PSA: $1,940; Cumulative: $132,100,000

With its recent Producers, Directors and now Writers’ Guild losses hurting its once strong Oscar hopes, Sony and Annapurna Productions can take solace in the fact that this now has reached the gross of David Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook” and now is his biggest film ever, at least domestic (it has some distance to go worldwide yet).

What comes next: Irrespective of awards, this should easily top $150 million by some distance.

9. The Wolf of Wall Street (Paramount) Week 6; Last weekend #8

$3,550,000 (-35%) in 1,607 theaters (-97); PSA: $2,209; Cumulative: $104,077,000

Remember that C Cinemascore? Now that this has passed $100 million, that looks a bit silly. Though this is fading and doesn’t have a lot further to go, this result combined with even stronger initial foreign results (handled by a number of distributors, led by Universal) has made this a success despite divisive content and a three-hour length.

What comes next: After the commercial flop of “Hugo,” Scorsese is clearly back.

10. I, Frankenstein (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last weekend #6

$3,520,000 (-59%) in 2,753 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $1,279; Cumulative: $14,490,000

The latest and most expensive horror flop dropped 60% from its weak opening.

What comes next: Don’t expect “I Dracula” anytime soon.

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