Here are your three-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Ride Along - $21.6 million
2. Lone Survivor - $12.6 million
3. The Nut Job - $12.3 million
4. Frozen - $9.0 million
5. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit - $8.8 million
6. I, Frankenstein - $8.2 million
7. American Hustle - $7.1 million
8. August: Osage County - $5.04 million
8. The Wolf of Wall Street - $5.0 million
10. Devil's Due - $2.7 million
The Big Stories
This is a week when I can say that I'm proud of America. At least on a limited basis. Hollywood only offered you one new movie this week. It advertised it pretty heavily; another bastardization of a true classic with the ugly words "from the producers of Underworld" splashed across its trailers. Like most of that worthless series, the film wasn't screened for critics. Of the 34 who did review it to date and post to Rotten Tomatoes, only two of them rated it positively. But you all didn't take the bait. Most of you anyway. And that's a good thing. Maybe that's progress.
Maybe the proper phonetic spelling of that still needs another "I" in there, but that doesn't mean it spells out "hit." The $65 million production is yet the latest to rely on its overseas haul to even have a chance of making its money back. That's the second Lionsgate-sponsored film this year to look bad. Real bad. Summit's The Legend of Hercules cost $70 million and has grossed barely $18 million worldwide. You remember The Legend of Hercules, don't you? It also didn't screen for critics other than the night before its release. It is not a secret what this means. It says that the studio thinks the movies sucks and it knows it's going to be eviscerated by critics (and likely moviegoers as well.) Preserve that opening weekend as much as it can and get out while the gettin' is OK.
Maybe there needs to be some kind of Smokey the Bear for films that the studios try to hide from the press. A message in cute animal form that says to the public "only YOU can prevent studios from trying to reap the benefits of a film they know is bad." OK, we'll work on the slogan but you get the picture. At least you should by now. Here is the list of films not screened for critics in 2013 with their first three-day grosses:
Texas Chainsaw 3D ($21.7), Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor ($21.6), Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters ($19.6), A Haunted House ($18.1), Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas ($16.0), 47 Ronin ($14.17), Scary Movie 5 ($14.15), R.I.P.D. ($12.6), The Last Exorcism Part II ($7.7), Movie 43 ($4.8), Justin Bieber's Believe ($3.0)
Nine of those films rank amongst the 25 worst-reviewed films of 2013. Consider how little the studios thought of those movies when they still managed to screen films like Getaway, The Big Wedding and The Host. I, Frankenstein and its $9 million is the sixth film in the last five weeks to not screen for critics along with Devil's Due ($8.3 million opening), The Legend of Hercules ($8.8) and Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones ($18.3). Paramount and Fox can get away with it with their found-footage cheapies. Doesn't mean you should let them. And based on the last three, clearly most of you are making that effort.
Tales of the Top 10
Universal takes the one-two punch at the box office for the second straight weekend and both films are headed towards $100 million here in the U.S. Kevin Hart's coming-out party Ride Along once again grabbed the top spot and is now hovering at around $75 million. With little competition next week, it is reasonable to assume it is a lock for a third straight week at the top. Just below it is Peter Berg's Lone Survivor, only about a week away from hitting nine digits in the U.S. and recouping its costs before a single dollar is spent overseas. This is an impressive start for the studio after a strong 2013 ended with the biggest bomb of the year in 47 Ronin.
Open Road hasn't had a hit since last January's A Haunted House. Is it any surprise then that it has already green-lit a sequel to The Nut Job and that its next release is A Haunted House 2? A string of losers that includes Side Effects, The Host, Jobs, Machete Kills, Homefront and Justin Bieber's Believe also includes The Nut Job until it rakes in about another $71 million. Heck, it still needs another $40 million to not be the biggest loser amongst all those from last year. The studio must have a good feeling about its overseas prospects.
As for the rest of the list, Disney's Frozen is nearing the $350 million mark in the U.S. with hopes of knocking Despicable Me 2 out of the number-one slot for highest grossing animated film of 2013 and the 25th of all time. American Hustle is over $126 million and hopes to keep its momentum to be a serious challenger for Best Picture at the Oscars. The Wolf of Wall Street is just a few days away from hitting $100 million itself but still needs about another $54 million worldwide to recoup its costs. Now only if Paramount can release Nebraska wide to make back its limited budget. Just another $20 million or so, Paramount. C'mon, you can do it. Of course, that will only make the grosses on Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit look even worse as it would be the studio's first failure since Michael Bay's Pain & Gain. $30 million in the U.S. and Chris Pine's Jack Ryan is going to need over $100 million more to not register as a loser.
Erik Childress can be seen each Thursday morning on WCIU-TV's First Business breaking down the box office on the Movies & Money segment.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]
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