Here are your three-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Frozen - $31.6 million
2. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - $27.5 million
3. Out of the Furnace - $5.3 million
4. Thor: The Dark World - $4.7 million
5. Delivery Man - $3.7 million
6. Homefront - $3.3 million
7. The Book Thief - $2.7 million
8. The Best Man Holiday - $2.6 million
9. Philomena - $2.2 million
10. Dallas Buyers Club - $1.4 million
The Big Stories
Did you know that there are two big movies at the box office right now? Certainly bigger than anything else of mention. Taking the number one spot this weekend certainly does not qualify as any victory for either of them except as some footnote on a historical chart. Yay, we won our third straight weekend. Yay, look who took the top spot from the biggest movie of 2013 in their third weekend in our second weekend. Big deal. Each film is a success in its own right. Both have female heroines overtaking the injection of macho into the marketplace. Blah, blah, blah. In other words, it's a boring weekend at the box office no matter what the numbers. So let us take a quick look and then look forward, OK?
Those Two Big Movies
The weekend after Thanksgiving is always a big comedown. But who is looking at just the numbers this weekend? The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is at $336 million in the U.S. Frozen is at $134 million. Hunger Games Part 2 of 3.2 is over $600 million in the world. By next week it will be amongst the top five grossers of the year internationally, surpassing Man of Steel. Another $28 million and it will be passing Despicable Me 2 for second on the U.S. charts. Only $72 million away from besting Iron Man 3 as the year's champion. (Can you imagine the 2015 holiday when Mockingjay Part 2 opens a month before the new Star Wars? In the same year when Avengers 2 drops?) Frozen's numbers may look pale in comparison, but as it plays in a very family-free marketplace this month it will find itself with over $200 million. Enough to make its way into the top 10 films of the year, just before possibly a pair of films knock it back out again. If you do care to just look at this weekend's numbers though, this is how they faired compared to the post-Thanksgiving players this century.
Frozen ($31.6 million), How the Grinch Stole Christmas ($27.09), The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ($27.0 million), The Last Samurai ($24.27), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone ($23.64), Tangled ($21.60), The Blind Side ($20.04), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire ($19.87), Behind Enemy Lines ($18.73), Happy Feet ($17.54)
Yes, they even won that battle. Ahem. Let's move on.
Back into the Oven
If you had asked me what Scott Cooper's Crazy Heart made back in 2009-'10, I don't believe I would have come up with the number of $39.4 million. Most of that came during its expansion in the wake of Jeff Bridges' run towards his first Best Actor Oscar. The film kept chugging along, never making more than $4.27 million over a three-day weekend. His follow-up, Out of the Furnace, is likely to suffer the opposite fate. Despite a lot of mentions of Academy Award nominees in the trailer, this is a film unlikely to garner any new nominations. Its opening wider (2101 theaters) than Crazy Heart ever did. It's going to have a bigger weekend ($6 million) than Crazy Heart ever did. But it is going to bow out pretty quickly and not even make half of its earnings. With a $27 million budget, this is looking like another big loser for Relativity this year; a list that includes Free Birds, Paranoia and The Family. Where does Out of the Furnace rank this century on post-Thanksgiving openers?
The Last Samurai ($24.2), Behind Enemy Lines ($18.7), Honey ($12.8), Analyze That ($11.0), Brothers ($9.5), The Nativity Story ($7.8), Closer ($7.7), Killing Them Softly ($6.8), Armored ($6.5), Awake ($5.8), Out of the Furnace ($5.3), Punisher: War Zone ($4.2), Everybody's Fine ($3.8), Cadillac Records ($3.4), The Collection ($3.1), The Warrior's Way ($3.0)
Looking Ahead In December
The final month of 2013 is going to get crowded really quickly with over a dozen films opening wide or expanding upon their existing release. What should surely be the biggest film of the month opens next week. Despite the ridiculous padding of the source material, fans kept showing up for Peter Jackson's first Hobbit film, which grossed over $303 million in the U.S. and over a billion dollars worldwide. Will their be fatigue now with The Desolation of Smaug? It's a little shorter, has more action and takes audiences about two paragraphs away from the end of the book's Wikipedia description. The Two Towers grossed $27 million more than its predecessor, so anything less than $300 million in the U.S. would be a surprise.
The Hobbit's closest challenger this month will be another long-awaited follow-up as Anchorman 2 finally hits theaters after years of speculation and months of Dodge commercials. This is a sequel that should show the kind of jump that Austin Powers saw in its second outing and with positive word-of-mouth could even find itself doing Fockers money. Speaking of Fockers, Tyler Perry has A Madea Christmas opening next week. If The Best Man Holiday could do over $70 million, do not be surprised if this is Perry's biggest grosser to date and his first $100 million film. Merry Christmas and God bless us, everyone!
Other potential $100 million grossers this month (in order) include The Wolf of Wall Street, Saving Mr. Banks and American Hustle, especially as the awards race heats up. If Grudge Match is any good it could potentially be a sleeper, but opening in the wake of Anchorman 2 is not going to help. The success of Mr. Banks will probably keep the same audience away from Fox's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which along with the $85 million budgeted Walking with Dinosaurs could leave the studio entering 2014 with six straight losers. Universal is also suffering a similar fateful end to an otherwise very successful year. With the exception of The Best Man Holiday, the studio has not had a film in the black since the summer's Despicable Me 2. It is well over a billion dollars in net on the year, but if the delayed, megabudgeted 47 Ronin doesn't do some significant overseas dollars (since its U.S. prospects look bleak), Universal could find itself behind Disney in the only dollar column that really matters.
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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