Here's your weekend box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Argo - $12.3 million
2. Hotel Transylvania - $9.5 million
3. Cloud Atlas - $9.4 million
4. Paranormal Activity 4 - $8.6 million
5. Taken 2 - $8.0 million
6. Silent Hill: Revelation - $8.0 million
7. Here Comes the Boom - $5.5 million
8. Sinister - $5.07 million
9. Alex Cross - $5.05 million
10. Fun Size - $4.06 million
The Big Stories
We told you that word of mouth on Ben Affleck's Argo was going to be good. A drop last week of over 15.5% has turned into only a 25% drop this week and good enough to enjoy its first week at number one. It's only the second film this year to make the leap to number one after at least a week in release after Safe House in February and the first film to do it in its third weekend since the Coen brothers' True Grit. That makes Argo only the ninth film to achieve that feat since 1996. The drops will get a little more steady over the new few weeks as more adult fare like Flight, Skyfall and Lincoln enter the market. With its current $60 million tally in the bank, you are likely to see Argo remain in the top 10 at least through Thanksgiving weekend and likely into early December as it begins its awards run into February.
No Silver Lining
Warner Bros. wishes they had a Bradley Cooper playbook on how to sell a movie like Cloud Atlas to the masses. To their credit they did everything they could. But five-minute trailers don't play on television and even with Tom Hanks seemingly everywhere trying to bring awareness of it, critics were split on it and the $100 million-budgeted film just couldn't find an audience. It's "C+" Cinemascore does not bode well for spreading the word on its ambitious narrative and that's a shame. The co-effort between the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer only opened on 2,008 screens, which could not have helped. Here are this year's biggest openers on films that started between 1500-2200 screens:
Think Like a Man ($33.6 million), Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection ($25.3), Tyler Perry's Good Deeds ($15.5), Chimpanzee ($10.6), Cloud Atlas ($9.4), Big Miracle ($7.7), Silent House ($6.6), Wanderlust ($6.5), The Secret World of Arrietty ($6.4), A Thousand Words ($6.1)
"...It goes on and on and on and onnnn."
If only Cloud Atlas decided to use Tyler Perry or Steve Harvey instead of trying to switch the actors with makeup, huh? Hell, even Alex Cross opened better than Cloud Atlas. "Why do we keep making the same mistakes over and over" is right. At 172 minutes there are some complaints that the film is too long. Well, at least from one guy on Twitter. Hey, so are awards season and the presidential campaign. Deal with it. Ten dollars for nearly three hours of entertainment or 18 months that cost the rest of your life? The two highest-grossing films of the year (The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises) clock in at 142 and 165 minutes, respectively. When Francis Ford Coppola turned in a 126-minute cut of The Godfather, producer Robert Evans demanded it be longer to fit with his "smell the spaghetti" mantra and another 50 minutes were added. Not counting rereleases and any limited-release Bollywood titles, there have been only eight films released wide in 2012 that clock-in at 135 minutes or longer.
Cloud Atlas (172 minutes), The Dark Knight Rises (165), For Greater Glory (143), The Avengers (142), The Hunger Games (142), The Master (137), The Amazing Spider-Man (136), The Bourne Legacy (135)
Hardly seems like an epidemic. Though the successful films of that batch clearly have name recognition and franchise rights. Of the three that don't, two of them never made it to 900 screens and Cloud Atlas is going to struggle to gross a quarter of its budget in the U.S. Running times are unlikely to even be called into question with the upcoming Skyfall (143 minutes) and The Hobbit (160 minutes). Robert Zemeckis' Flight runs 138 minutes and is getting a surprisingly limited launch on only around 1800-plus screens. No word on final running times yet for Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty and Les Miserables though safe bets will have them exceeding 135. Judd Apatow's This Is 40 currently rests at 134 minutes.
Bad Weekend For New Releases
The final weekend of October was pretty much owned by Saw since the series debuted in 2004. Five of the best eight debuts on this weekend since then belong to that franchise. Silent Hill: Revelation did not exactly make a claim to become the next big horror event. A six year layoff since the original led to a dismal (yet generous) "C" rating from Cinemascore that is likely to have the film scrambling to even match the $20.1 million the 2006 film managed in its first three days. I guess this Halloween this wasn't "the one movie everyone's dying to see." Even Paranormal Activity 4 managed to edge it out in its second week and it suffered one of the biggest second-week drops of the year.
The Apparition (-77.7%), The Devil Inside (-76.2%), Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (-72%), Paranormal Activity 4 (-70.4%), Total Recall (-68.7%), Silent House (-68.3%), Resident Evil: Retribution (-68.2%), Safe (66.1%), Sparkle (-65.8%), Atlas Shrugged: Part II (-64.9%)
Expect something similar for Silent Hill Deux next weekend. Back to this weekend though, there were still two other new wide releases, finishing 10th and 12th. For America, a near three-hour epic that makes you think, a Silent Hill sequel, a PG-13 Nickelodeon live action tweener without a laugh track and a Gerard Butler film is what you call flooding the market with horror films. For the final weekend in October, the real horror is just where they rank among new wide openers since 2004.
Puss in Boots ($34.0 million), Saw III ($33.6), Saw IV ($31.75), Saw II ($31.72), Michael Jackson's This Is It ($23.2), Saw 3D ($22.5), Ray ($20.0), Saw ($18.2), The Legend of Zorro ($16.3), In Time ($12.0), Dan in Real Life ($11.8), Zack and Miri Make a Porno ($10.0), Cloud Atlas ($9.4), Silent Hill: Revelation ($8.0), Prime ($6.2), The Haunting of Molly Hartley ($5.4), The Rum Diary ($5.1), The Weather Man ($4.2), Fun Size ($3.8), Chasing Mavericks ($2.2), Catch a Fire ($2.0)
Next weekend we'll be back to examine whether 2012 can make a run to be the biggest box office year on record.
[All figures via Box Office Mojo]