5TH UPDATE: Considering that there was only one major new film in the marketplace, it has turned out to be a good weekend for the movie business. Before I get to the Top Ten, I hate to wear my heart on my sleeve, but like everyone else in America, I was completely captivated by the Batkid, and his crime fighting exploits accomplished in San Francisco after his cancer went into remission. It is a reminder that while there is plenty of cynicism in Hollywood, there is a reason this is called the Dream Factory that gives America heroes and hope. And the reaction by past Batman Christian Bale and future Batman Ben Affleck, well, if you are not touched, you should check yourself for a pulse.
Then there is Nebraska, which opened limited this week. What does it say when Paramount’s slate is chock full of films like World War Z and sequels of Star Trek and G.I. Joe, and by far the best film that studio has made is a $13 million black and white road trip movie with a former Saturday Night Live funnyman with no feature currency and a 77-year old forgotten actor who was dusted off by Alexander Payne to turn in the performance of a career that spans 53 years? Well, what it really says is this movie goes down as a total fluke. It was brought in by former Paramount Classics head Ruth Vitale, who’s long gone, but who bought it as a black and white project. The current Paramount brain trust probably gave this a harder time giving a green light than all of those other three films, but they did green light it and allowed Payne to make it his way, with Will Forte and Bruce Dern. The latter has staked a claim on a Best Actor nom at least. You would see him in a small dose in a film like All The Pretty Horses, and he pretty much lit up the screen and infused his characters with intelligence and integrity. Wait till you see what he does here, and how much this film benefits from being shot in glorious black and white.
My final observance of major box office news is our own news that we have brought Anita Busch into the Deadline fold. She will take over box office reporting and make it her own. I gotta be honest, I have to take off my shoes to count to 20, and I have no head for math. I have been filling in as best I can, while still breaking film stories and trying with Nellie Andreeva to change the narrative here and draw Deadline away from the expectation it will be a House of Hate, and instead a haven for fast breaking exclusive, attitude, sharp analysis and stylish writing. I think we’ve a major step in that direction with Anita, who understands this part of the business better than I do, and who will add insight when she takes over in early December. Nellie and I have been trying to get used to new roles. It has been daunting for me. The Wrap actually engaged some service to poll awareness of me, versus Nikki Finke. It was done about 28 minutes after Nellie and I took over, and it was comical, with an actual pie chart that shows I am lagging. For our entire run at Deadline, Nellie and I were happy to have Nikki Finke be the face and the galvanized presence. Neither of us have ever craved attention or had egos to feed, and we loved being able to simply be judged by what appeared under our bylines. As things settle down, it will be nice to get back to that and save the drama for the page.
On to Box Office.
Thor: The Dark World opened in Argentina, Paraguay and Hungary this weekend, and it still has yet to unveil in Italy and Japan. Its $38.4 million weekend (a 55% drop from last weekend) was eclipsed by the $52.5 million which the film grossed overseas (covering 94% of the world territories in which it will play) for a $90.1 million worldwide weekend take. That puts the film at $479 million globally, with a lot more to come. How did it compare with the original Thor? That pic grossed a total of $181 million domestic, so two weeks in the sequel has grossed 81% of its predecessor. The sequel has passed the global grosses of Captain America ($371 million) and Thor ($449 million). So those wondering if the sequel is measuring up, it has done 107% of the original Thor, and it is not near done. Those totals include $41.8 million in China, and $31.6 million in Russia, along with $27.4 million in the UK and $20.9 million in Brazil. That latter territory is where The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opened ahead of next Friday’s worldwide bow. It did $6.295 million, and that portends a monstrous opening weekend.
The saving grace for the runner up films is that they are well situated to be counter programming alternatives to Katniss Everdeen, and that could stave off extinction. While it will have nowhere near the offshore life that has Thor 2‘s Marvel and Disney guys right now lighting cigars with twenty dollar bills, The Best Man Holiday has been overachieving all weekend. A $31 million gross, with strong reviews, is a fine score for a $17 million budget film. The AARP poster boys of Last Vegas continue to show staying power, finishing third with an $8.85 million weekend and a $46.96 million domestic total for an under $30 million budget film. Free Birds is next with $8.3 million and a $42.2 million total gross. Bad Grandpa hung in for a $7.68 million weekend and a $90.2 million cume for a $15 million film. Gravity‘s $6.26 weekend puts its domestic haul at $240.5 million, slightly less than the pictures $500 million global gross. Ender’s Game follows with a $6.16 million weekend, which puts the film at $53.7 million, a number that unfortunately does not make sequels happen. Behind that is 12 Years A Slave, whose rave reviews continue to propel it, but its hard subject matter still appears to be a limiting factor. The film grossed $4.64 million, and is at $24.9 million. The film’s run has been set up to be extended by award’s season. Captain Phillips hung in for ninth place and a $4.5 million weekend, upping its domestic to $97.6 million, and positioning it to pass $100 million domestic by next weekend. Rounding out the Top Ten is About Time, the Richard Curtis-directed romancer that pulled in $3.4 million over the weekend and an $11.5 million domestic gross. That sounds terrible, but the film had a modest budget, and it has done more than $53 million globally.
4TH UPDATE: Looks like the top two films of the weekend will finish strongly, and most particularly Thor: The Dark World. The film will outpace early estimates and after a $17 million Saturday gross, and it will likely finish $38.5 million for the weekend. The Best Man Holiday is meanwhile had a strong Saturday night with around $12.4 million, and is likely to reach the $31 million mark for the weekend, which for a $17 million negative cost is a good haul. Its 2,024 screen count is much lower than Thor‘s 3,841, and its per screen average is $15,115 to Thor‘s $10,011. Last Vegas ($3.8 million Saturday) continues to hang in there and if you were expecting wheezing AARP poster boys, that hasn’t happened. The film is nicely positioned to continue as a counter-programming alternative to the incoming Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
All of these films are about to weather a storm in Hunger Games: Catching Fire. That film opened in just one market, Brazil, and its first frame will finish with $6.295 million. That number more than doubled that of the first Hunger Games, which did $3.037 million. In spite of a 28 percent devaluation of the Brazilian Real, when you measure the totals in local currency, Catching Fire nearly tripled the first Hunger Games.
That pic is in a dogfight for third place with Free Birds ($4 million Saturday), followed by Bad Grandpa ($3.3 million Saturday), Gravity ($3.4 million Saturday), Ender’s Game ($2.8 million Saturday), 12 Years A Slave ($1.9 million Saturday), Captain Phillips ($2 million Saturday) and About Time ($1.9 million Saturday) rounding out the Top Ten. More coming later.
3RD UPDATE: The Friday night numbers are rolling in, and most of the estimates I am getting indicate that The Best Man Holiday will finish in the $28 million range. The estimates on other weekend films are fairly consistent, and there is a lot of high-fiving that films are holding strong in the marketplace. Let’s see if they are high fiving next week, when Katniss and Hunger Games: Catching Fire sucks up all the oxygen in the room. Despite those distributor estimates on The Best Man Holiday, I am going to hold to my own vast experience in box office handicapping (this marks my third weekend, thank you), and I am going to stick with my earlier hunch that The Best Man Holiday will crack $31 million. If I am wrong, I will eat my hat. Will have a more detailed report tomorrow morning, certainly before the New York Giants-Green Bay game.
2ND UPDATE: Considering it has been 14 years since Malcolm Lee directed the first installment, The Best Man Holiday is way overachieving, and the question is whether the $17 million-budget film could double its negative cost on opening weekend. I’ve seen estimates it will finish under $30 million, but I am going to stick with the original call that the film will finish in the mid-$30 million range. That will put it neck and neck with Thor: The Dark World, which is expected to finish near $35 million. If there is an upset that will be a giant facial for the hammer-wielding Marvel hero. There isn’t much new to crow about here, and most of the remaining top 10 held serve. Given the paucity of new product, you wonder if DreamWorks is regretting that the Vince Vaughn film Delivery Man isn’t opening this week, instead of being counterprogramming up against The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
Related: Hot Trailer: ‘The Best Man Holiday’
In the limited-release category comes the Alexander Payne-directed Nebraska, which is neck and neck with Fruitvale Station for the best film I’ve seen so far this year. One film coming back to Earth is 12 Years A Slave; and Ender’s Game is showing once again why this will likely be a one-off franchise ender. Captain Phillips will crack the $100 million domestic gross mark next week, and About Time seems about done in the Top 10.
Related: Hot Trailer: ‘12 Years A Slave’
1) Thor: The Dark World
PG13/ Disney / Week 2/ Runs: 3841/ $10.5M Fri./ $15.3M Sat. 45% / $9.2M Sun. -40% = $34.9M Weekend -59%. Per Screen Average: $9,099. Total domestic gross $143.5 million.
2) The Best Man Holiday
R/ Universal/ Week 1/ Runs: 2024/ $12.5M Fri./ $13.55M Sat. 10% / $6.3M Sun. -45% = $34M Weekend. Per Screen Average: $14,033. Total domestic gross $34 million.
3) Last Vegas
PG13/ CBS Films / Week 3/ Runs: 3237/ 155 / $2.4M Fri./ $3.6M Sat. 50% / $1.9M Sun. -45% = $7.9M Weekend -28%. Per Screen Average: $2,441. Total domestic gross $46 million.
4) Free Birds
PG/ Relativity/ Week 3/ Runs: 3,510/ -226 / $1.7M Fri./ $3.5M Sat. 100% / $2.2M Sun. -35% = $7.5M Weekend, -33%. Per screen average: $2,135. Total domestic gross $41.4 million.
5) Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
R/ Paramount/ Week 4/ Runs: 3,190/ 3 / $2.2M Fri./ $3.1M Sat. 45% / $1.9M Sun. -40% = $7.189M Weekend. -37%. Per screen average: $2,254. Total domestic gross $89.7 million.
PG13/ Warner Bros / Week 7/ Runs: 2,560/ -160 / $1.7M Fri./ $2.9M Sat. 70% / $1.6M Sun. -45% = $6.2M Weekend -28%. Per screen average: $2,411. Total domestic gross $240.4 million.
7) Ender’s Game
PG13/ Lionsgate/ Week 3/ Runs: 3,236/ -171 / $1.6M Fri./ $2.5M Sat. 55% / $1.5M Sun. -40% = $5.6M weekend. -46%. Per screen average: $1,719. Total domestic gross $53.1 million.
8 ) 12 Years A Slave
R/ Fox Searchlight/ Week 5/ Runs: 1,411/ 267 / $1.3M Fri./ $2.1M Sat. 55% / $1.2M Sun. -40% = $4.6M Weekend. -30%. Per screen average: $3,299. Total domestic gross $24.9 million.
9) Captain Phillips
PG13/ Sony/ Week 6/ Runs: 2,626/ -20 / $1.2M Fri./ $1.9M Sat. 60% / $1.1M Sun. -45% = $4.307M Weekend. -25%. Per screen average: $1,640. Total domestic gross $97.4 million.
10) About Time
R/ Universal/ Week 3/ Runs: 1,280/ 80 / $1M Fri./ $1.3M Sat. 25% / $0.8M Sun. -40% = $3.146M Weekend. -34%. Per screen average: $2,458. Total domestic gross: $11.3 million.
EARLIER, FRIDAY 5:34 PM: Universal’s The Best Man Holiday, the sequel to the studio’s 1999 hit, might not wield the pop culture hammer of Marvel/Disney’s Thor: The Dark World, but don’t be surprised if it makes a run for No. 1 at the box office this weekend against the comic hero. The Malcolm D Lee-directed Best Man Holiday — which was made for $17M and boasts a strong ensemble cast including Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard and Sanaa Lathan — likely will finish the weekend in the mid-$30M range after afternoon estimates suggest a $12.5M-$13.5M Friday. I’m hearing that Thor 2 is expected to take $37.4M in its second week in the marketplace after notching the year’s fourth-biggest opening last frame. Of course both will be overtaken next weekend, when Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire takes all the oxygen out of the room.