SUNDAY PM UPDATE: That’s the pecking order before Monday actuals, according to my sources. This was one of those weekends which can only be described as box office hell for me. Because the three top pics were neck-and-neck for #1 this weekend. Final film order came down to Sunday late shows on the West Coast with Open Road’s End Of Watch easily placing #1 with $13+M. There’s still a battle for 2nd place after Relativity’s The House At The End of The Street came in way under their estimate, while Warner Bros’ Trouble With The Curve came in a little below their estimate as well. Lionsgate’s Dredd still did dreadful. All four newcomers are low- to medium-budget movies, but none opened to more than $13+M this very soft weekend. And total filmgoing likely won’t add up to a lot more than $88M, which is down a big -25% from last year. “It’s a close race to mediocrity with no winners,” one movie exec snarked to me.
Still fledgling Open Road’s handheld-camera End Of Watch (2,730 theaters) started #3 , then went to #2, and then bumped up to #1 by weekend’s end. The small distributor was even getting congratulatory calls from competitors. The pic’s top position is a surprise considering it’s R-rated which limits its grosses, it’s playing in less theaters than rivals, and it’s starring Jake Gyllenhaal who’s been box office poison for major studio movie openings. But this cop drama is exactly the kind of smaller character-driven indie project he does well and his fans desire. It received great reviews and an audience-rated CinemaScore of ‘A-‘ that will expand word of mouth. Maybe End Of Watch can rival Open Road’s biggest to date, The Grey ($51.5M theatrical run). Made for only $7.5M by Exclusive Media and Emmett/Furla who both financed the movie, it was acquired by Open Road for around $2M in February after execs saw it at a buyer’s screening at the Arclight and made the deal that night. P&A was around $20M. Written and produced and directed by David Ayer (Training Day, S.W.A.T, The Fast & The Furious), Gyllenhaal is an executive producer. Pic also stars Michael Peña and Anna Kendrick. Producers are John Lesher, Nigel Sinclair, Matt Jackson and Ayer.
Clint Eastwood’s baseball father-daughter melodrama Trouble With The Curve (3,212 theaters) is considered a “big disappointment” no matter if it places $2 or $3. But it did receive a significant Red State bump on Saturday to make it more competitive. A lot of uninformed types are going to claim this icon’s movie is underperforming because of the 82-year-old Clint’s rambling Republican National Convention performance with that empty chair. Oh, puh-leeze. First of all, his movies don’t open big and usually don’t open wide like this. But they do have long legs. Two movies he both directed and starred in most recently — Gran Torino and Oscar-winner Million Dollar Baby – went on to earn over $100M. This latest won’t get near that. This time, Eastwood’s longtime collaborator Robert Lorenz at the helm and the subject matter belongs on the Hallmark Channel. Its reviews are mediocre even though audiences gave it a ‘B+’ CinemaScore which should help word of mouth. But baseball pics lately do only passable box office even though Warner Bros hired a sports consultant to build awareness. The studio targeted older audiences — and launched the trailer with Hope Springs — since it’s not like Amy Adams or Justin Timberlake fill cineplex seats.
Relativity’s run of the mill horror flick, House At The End Of The Street (3,083 theaters) stars Jennifer Lawrence who’s the real deal at the box office since The Hunger Games. Pic earned a middling ‘B’ CinemaScore from audiences. For $2.5M, Relativity acquired U.S. rights to market and distribute domestically, while Film Nation and A Bigger Boat independently produced the film with a budget just under $10M. Film Nation handled foreign sales and international distribution, and Alliance Films is distributing in Canada. Relativity claims an opening of $11M-$12M keeps the pic “on track for profitability across ancillary distribution channels including Netflix deal, home entertainment, television and digital sales”. (Isn’t it interesting how Relativity always claims it never loses money on its movies and yet keeps needing investors?) Relativity drafted off Lawrence’s built-in fan base by using The Hunger Games‘ home entertainment release on August 18th with targeted media and executed grassroots promotions. Because of her, Relativity targeted women.
And then there’s Lionsgate’s British/South African co-production low-budget reboot of John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra’s cult favorite comics Dredd 3D (2,506 locations). The R-rated pic did dreadful on Friday and went up double-digits Saturday but still fell to 6th place Sunday behind Sony/Screen Gem’s holdover Resident Evil: Retribution. Comic-Con fans seemed to accept this new gritty Dredd last summer, unlike the Sly Stallone version with lycra and codpieces. Reviews were good, and audiences gave the pic a ‘B’ CinemaScore. The bad news is that Deepak Nayer and Stuart Ford who put the picture together committed Reliance Entertainment to fund the $40M gap and backstop the P&A. The good news for Lionsgate is that it has minimal risk. LG’s marketing campaign created a comic strip prequel to the film with the publisher 2000 AD as well as a Motion Comic released online. Dredd 3D also opened the genre sections of film fests in Toronto and Austin. But there was never much of an effort to widen the film’s appeal beyond fanboys. Directed by Pete Travis from a screenplay written by Alex Garland, the film stars Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby. It’s produced by Andrew Macdonald, Allon Reich, and Alex Garland. Best stuff are those stunning slow motion photography sequences.
Meanwhile, The Weinstein Company’s critically acclaimed and Oscar buzzed The Master expanded into 788 theaters after breaking art house records for its opening last weekend. Friday’s take was $6,345 per screen average.
Here are the Top Ten based on weekend totals as of Sunday night:
1. End Of Watch (Open Road) NEW [2,730 Runs] R
Friday $4.6M, Saturday $5.1M, Weekend $13.2M
2? Trouble With The Curve (Warner Bros) NEW [3,212 Runs] PG13
Friday $4.1M, Saturday $5.2M, Weekend $12.9M
2? House At The End Of The Street (Relativity) NEW [3,083 Runs] PG13
Friday $4.6M, Saturday $5.3M, Weekend $12.8M
4. Finding Nemo 3D (Disney) Week 2 [2,904 Runs] G
Friday $2.3M, Saturday $4.4M, Weekend $9.4 (-43%), Cume $29.9M
5. Resident Evil 5 3D (Screen Gems/Sony) Week 2 [3,016 Runs] R
Friday 1.9M, Saturday $2.9M, Weekend $6.7M (-68%), Cume $33.4M
6. Dredd 3D (Lionsgate) NEW [2,506 Runs] R
Friday $2.2M, Saturday $2.4M, Weekend $6.3M
7. The Master (Weinstein Co) Week 2 [788 Runs] R
Friday $1.3M, Saturday $1.9M, Weekend $5.0M, Cume $6.0M
8. The Possession (Lionsgate) Week 4 [2,598 Runs] PG13
Friday $815K, Saturday $1.2M, Weekend $2.6M, Cume $45.2M
9. Lawless (Weinstein Co) Week 4 [2,614 Runs] R
Friday $704K, Saturday $1.0M, Weekend $2.3M, Cume $34.5M
10. ParaNorman (Focus Features) Week 6 [1,617 Runs] PG
Friday $466K, Saturday $1.1M, Weekend $2.2M, Cume $52.5M