Technical problems delayed box office updates.
SUNDAY NOON, 5TH UPDATE: First the good news: Warner Bros’ Gravity continued to defy the laws of box office playing in the widest release of 3,820 theaters. The only question mark was whether the Alfonso Cuaron/Sandra Bullock 3D space drama could orbit #1 for its 3rd straight domestic weekend despite a trio of newcomers in the marketplace. But none of the openers could muster strong openings or even 50% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. So no surprise Fandango reported that Gravity was pre-selling more tickets this weekend than most movies do at opening. (Remember: the studio mogul Jeff Robinov responsible for this yowza was forced out.) Its $31M weekend led a fresh $170.5M cume. Internationally pic has earned $114.2M from 51 territories for a new worldwide cume through Sunday of $284.7M and #1.
True to life or not (and many say not), Sony Pictures’ Paul Greengrass/Tom Hanks sea pirates drama Captain Phillips holds in 3,020 theaters for a healthy -33% and #2 with a new 10-day cume of $53.3M. Grosses rose a stunning 45% from Friday to Saturday. Overseas pic’s total is $9.1M from just 18 territories for a new worldwide cume of $62.3M.
But the Halloween horror is how Sony’s Screen Gems’ and MGM’s completely unnecessary Carrie remake fell flat on its bloody face. It couldn’t scare up $20M even as the only horror movie opening this October. Audiences gave it a ‘B-‘ CinemaScore which hurt word of mouth. Weekend opening in 3,157 theaters was a disappointing $17M. Pic at first levitated $725K in Thursday late shows and Friday midnights and seemed promising based on matinee trends. Especially considering it was made for what the studios claim is $30M but also marketed with a full frills TV spend. Brian De Palma’s 1976 United Artists adaptation of the Stephen King classic novel has spawned a 1999 sequel and a 2002 made-for-TV movie and now this movie directed by Kimberly Peirce and starring Chloe Moretz and Julianne Moore. But it’s an R-rated teen drama masquerading as a horror film and didn’t satisfy either Saw fans wanting gore or Paranormal Activity addicts seeking supernatural thrills. Both those genre pics have dominated the pre-Halloween box office since 2004. But Paramount decided to delay PA5 from this month to October 2014. Carrie was no substitute. Opening weekend exit polling showed the audience was 46% male and 54% female. with 56% under age 25 and 44% at 25 and older.
Lionsgate/Summit’s been there and done that Escape Plan (opening in 2,883 theaters) paired Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the kind of film their fans used to flock to. Um, those fans have vanished now that both action heroes are more likely to break a hip than open a movie. (Even Letterman joked it’s ‘Escape From Assisted Living’.) “Fans didn’t turn out for them individually in Last Stand or Bullet In The Head,” one exec points out. “Now audiences are rejecting them together.” Opening at #4 for only a $9.5M weekend, its ‘B+’ CinemaScore helped word of mouth. Directed by Mikael Håfström with screenplay and story by Miles Chapman with credited scripter Arnell Jesko, movie cost around $50 million because it was shot in Louisiana where there are hefty tax incentives. Summit claims limited financial exposure because it had many international presales and licensings and because Emmett/Furla was in for about 1/3 of the budget. Exit polling showed audience was 55% male vs. 45% female with 61% over age 30 and 39% under 30. Overseas, the duo earned $14.1M day and date from 25 territories for a worldwide cume of $23.9M.
Placing #7 is DreamWorks Studios’ The Fifth Estate flopping worse than forecast with only a $1.7M weekend even factoring its low 1,769 theater count. The per screen average was under $1,000, meaning each location played nearly empty. No wonder this hyperbolic melodrama earned only a ‘B-‘ CinemaScore. Its multiple trailers and high-spend TV ads were as misguided as WikiLeaker Julian Assange played by Benedict Cumberbatch who deserved better than director Bill Condon. (He helmed among the worst reviewed installments of the Twilight series.) Pic has now earned $2M internationally for a $3.3M worldwide cume, including $1.4M in the UK where Assange is holed up inside London’s Ecuadorian embassy which has granted him diplomatic asylum. This should have been an HBO flock, which DreamWorks realizes now. With the exception of The Help and Steven Spielberg’s Oscar bait Lincoln, DreamWorks CEO Stacey Snider just keeps presiding over disappointing openings like I Am Number Four, Cowboys & Aliens, Fright Night, Real Steel, Spielberg’s own War Horse, and now this. Given how small the studio’s annual output is, you’d think Snider could stop whining about financing long enough to oversee better product.
Not only does Assange hate the movie but he plotted to steal the tell-all manuscript being penned by his former second-in-command Daniel Domscheit-Berg which became one of the two books that formed the basis of The Fifth Estate film. Josh Singer (Fringe, The West Wing) adapted. But Condon claims credit for broadening the film’s scope to a “multiplicity of perspectives” ascribed to real-life and representative figures involved which is what critics panned as the weakest part of the pic. The project began shortly after DreamWorks acquired the rights to Domscheit-Berg’s Inside WikiLeaks: My Time With Julian Assange At the World’s Most Dangerous Website. And then producers Michael Sugar and Steve Golin of Anonymous Content took the book to Singer who pitched the studio. “You could make several movies out of this material,” Singer has said, “but we had to choose one, and ultimately, the story of Daniel’s journey with Julian was the most relatable.” Cumberbatch donned prosthetic makeup, colored contacts, bleached eyebrows, and Assange’s signature white hair, as well as intensive vocal work to capture Assange’s particular way of speaking. He reached out directly to Assange and established an email connection. Assange asked Cumberbatch not to do the role. The WikiLeaker was right.
Finishing in 16th place, Fox Searchlight/New Regency’s Oscar frontrunner 12 Years A Slave platformed in 6 markets for a total of 19 theaters. There was tremendous curiosity in Hollywood as to its box office potential because pre-sales showed the strongest per-screen opening of the weekend before it opens wide November 1. Director Steve McQueen’s pre-U.S. Civil War drama grossed $960K for an impressive per screen average of over $50,000 a theater. Written by John Ridley based on the book by Solomon Northup) the film features a stellar cast including Brad Pitt, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson, and Alfre Woodward. Financed and produced by New Regency, pic is being marketed and distributed by Fox Searchlight to a satisfied audience of mostly cinephiles and African-Americans for an ‘A’ CinemaScore. Next weekend adds 6 cities and expands theater count to about 125.