Here are your three-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Insidious: Chapter 2 - $41.0 million
2. The Family - $14.5 million
3. Riddick - $7.0 million
4. Lee Daniels' The Butler - $5.5 million
5. We're the Millers - $5.4 million
6. Instructions Not Included - $4.2 million
7. Planes - $3.0 million
8. One Direction: This Is Us - $2.4 million
9. Elysium - $2.0 million
10. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters - $1.8 million
The Big Stories
Welcome to this week's edition of "Who Wants to Be James Wan This Year?" Seriously, is any one person having a better year in Hollywood in 2013? First he grabs the reins of the Fast & Furious franchise. Then The Conjuring became his biggest success as a filmmaker (currently the 12th highest grossing domestic film of the year and the sixth most profitable.) Then he adds Kurt Russell to his Furious cast, thus ensuring the film will double up on personality alone. This weekend, Wan added to his riches by grabbing what could be the biggest opening of his career and the biggest live-action September opening of all time. Friday the 13th might be considered unlucky for some, but in Wan's case luck has nothing to do with it.
Conjuring Up Big Bucks
The first Insidious premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2010. Produced for a mere $1.5 million it became a nice little word-of-mouth hit in the spring of 2011 and went on to gross over $97 million worldwide. Jason Blum (along with Paranormal Activity director Oren Peli) now has a second series under his belt raking in the dollars (and a Purge sequel is in the works as well.) This is also the producer's second biggest opening (behind just Paranormal Activity 3's $52.5 million) as well as, arguably, the second best film on a resume that includes four Paranormals, a Purge, a Sinister and even a Tooth Fairy.) Wan's resume is infinitely more impressive with The Conjuring, Saw and the criminally overlooked Death Sentence. Where would you rank Insidious: Chapter 2 in quality compared to these other big September openings?
Hotel Transylvania ($42.5 million), Insidious: Chapter 2 ($41.0), Sweet Home Alabama ($35.6), Rush Hour ($33.0), Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs ($30.3), The Lion King 3D ($30.1), The Exorcism of Emily Rose ($30.0), Eagle Eye ($29.1), Jackass: Number Two ($29.0), Resident Evil: Afterlife ($26.6)
The first Insidious wore Poltergeist firmly on its sleeve and the sequel makes a little more room for The Shining, though its more creative ideas evolve from screenwriter and costar Leigh Whannell going for a bit of Back to the Future Part II in its storytelling. It helps elevate the sequel from just more of the same to one that actually attempts to expand upon its mythology. And as it ends with the promise of a big reveal, perhaps we can expect a chpater three to be another big earner after Fast & Furious 7 becomes the biggest film of that franchise next summer. Seriously, who doesn't want to be James Wan right now?
That Includes You, Luc Besson
Speaking of bad resumes, does anyone look upon the work of this hack beyond a couple overpraised cult films? I'll personally take The Professional all day; easily the best of his career and it introduced us to Natalie Portman (if in a creepy French way.) The Fifth Element was certainly the most successful of his releases in the U.S. and should have been the first clue that this is a guy who doesn't mix genres easily and knows as much about comedy as Kenny Banya in a spousal-abuse clinic. Which brings us to The Family, a film that doesn't even seem to recognize what funny is in any scene.
Trying to find the silver lining on De Niro's most recent lackluster career choice is not exactly hard though. It did nearly twice the opening of his last comedic disaster, The Big Wedding, from back in April. It is the sixth best opening in the history of Relativity studios. With only a $30 million budget, another $45 million overseas and the film will be in the black. Even Besson's The Messenger: Joan of Arc grossed over $52 million abroad. In other words, The Family is basically a nonstory that nobody should waste any more words to remind us of its existence.
Tales of the Top Ten
We're the Millers remains in the top five after six weeks. As it sticks in the top 10 throughout the month of September it is headed for over $145 million in the U.S. and will be Warner Bros.' second most profitable film of the year after The Conjuring; two films budgeted at less than $60 million combined. Lee Daniels' The Butler is just a day or two away from cracking the $100 million mark; just the fifth in the Weinstein catalog. The other four (Django Unchained, The King's Speech, Silver Linings Playbook, Inglourious Basterds) all have something else in common too. Guess we won't see Oprah trying to get the word out about 12 Years a Slave when it opens next month. Why interfere with her own film's Oscar chances, right? Sony's own campaign for This Is the End to hit the $100 million mark (by rereleasing it in theaters a month before its DVD release) has paid off. The Seth Rogen and co. comedy is the studio's second most profitable film of the year (after the Evil Dead remake.) Sony may be hoping for a moral victory with Neill Blomkamp's Elysium which remains in the top 10 though is still $12 million away from the nine-digit benchmark in the U.S. and about $70 million away from breaking even.
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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