Here's your three-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. A Good Day to Die Hard - $25.0 million
2. Identity Thief - $23.4 million
3. Safe Haven - $21.4 million
4. Escape from Planet Earth - $16.0 million
5. Warm Bodies - $9.0 million
6. Beautiful Creatures - $7.4 million
7. Side Effects - $6.3 million
8. Silver Linings Playbook - $6.0 million
9 . Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters - $3.4 million
10. Zero Dark Thirty - $3.1 million
The Big Stories
The Presidents' Day numbers are not in yet. Because the day has not happened. Neither has a full Sunday for that matter. So go ahead and do all the speculating you want. Maybe there will be a giant surge of Beautiful Creatures fans waiting for Monday because its one day closer to the full moon. Until then we can just assume that the film was claimed for the dark while far worse films got people to show up.
Was It Really a "Good" Day?
Die Hard fans were happy when the fifth entry in the series got its "R" rating back. That was the last time they were happy. The fourth worst-reviewed wide release of 2013 (behind even Identity Thief and Texas Chainsaw 3D) nevertheless rode its franchise name to a number-one finish, but just barely above last week's number one and its Nicholas Sparks challenger. Three of the four newbies this week opened on Valentine's Day, so the numbers are skewed in their placement on the all-time Presidents' Day holiday chart. If speculation is in place, the John Moore travesty would just barely break in.
Valentine's Day ($63.1 million), Ghost Rider ($52.0), 50 First Dates ($45.1), Daredevil ($45.0), Friday the 13th 2009 ($43.5), Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief ($38.6), The Wolfman ($35.5), Constantine ($33.6), Jumper ($32.0), A Good Day to Die Hard ($31.0 estimated)
Guesstimates are putting Die Hard at just under $40 million for its first five days, roughly $9-10 million behind the PG-13-rated Live Free or Die Hard, which opened just before the July 4 holiday in 2007 on its way to $134.5 million, the biggest grosser in the series' history. People can look at the rating or the release date all they want. If the film cannot maintain its number-one slot next week against Snitch and Dark Skies, we could be looking at a word-of-mouth sink that might prevent it from reaching $100 million here in the States.
"A Safe, Safe Place?"
Number five did open to an $8.2 million tally on Thursday, but even then was beaten on the day of love by the Sleeping with the Enemy redux, Safe Haven, started with $8.8 million. Those words above coined by the Chicago Daily Herald's Dann Gire about the film's overkill title does accurately describe Hollywood's own romance with green-lighting the next Sparks project. With the exception of The Notebook gaining traction back in 2004, the more recent Nicholas Sparks films have followed a very similar pattern after their first five days in release and, aside from guys forced to watch them, nobody is complaining.
Dear John ($34.5 million/$80.0 total), Safe Haven ($34.1 million estimated/$80.8 total est.), The Lucky One ($25.8 million/$60.4 total), The Last Song ($25.3 million/$62.9 total), Message in a Bottle ($19.9 million estimated/$52.8 total), The Notebook ($17.7 million/$81.0 total), Nights in Rodanthe ($15.6 million/$41.8 total), A Walk to Remember ($13.3 million/$41.2 total)
If the numbers hold on Safe Haven, it is running neck and neck with The Notebook and Dear John to be the most successful in the Sparks-inspired "beautiful-people-and-then-someone-dies" canon. The last three Sparks films ended up multiplying their five-day grosses in between a consistent 2.31-to-2.48 final tally. That will put the "where's Patrick Bergin" film in the vicinity of $80 million. It will also mean that Lasse Hallström is likely to look for the next Nicholas Sparks film to sell out to. Michael Hoffman (who can use an easy hit if this Gambit date shuffling is any indication) is reportedly doing The Best of Me, but there are plenty more to choose from.
Weinsteins Opened a Movie Outside of Oscar Season?
That's news to us too. Sure they "open" films between January and August, but nobody really seems to notice. This time they actually "opened" a movie. Money-wise. Ironic in how they didn't want anyone to see it before it opened - especially critics. But Escape from Planet Earth got off to an OK at best start for an animated feature. Nearly as much as Coraline did ($16.8 million) back in February '09. For the Weinsteins though, they are likely counting this as a success. The $40 million-budgeted film is likely to still come up short on the books, but consider their list of all-time openers.
Scary Movie 4 ($40.2 million), Inglourious Basterds ($38.0), Django Unchained ($30.1), Scream 4 ($18.6), Halloween II 2009 ($16.3), Escape from Planet Earth ($16.0), Hoodwinked ($12.4), Derailed ($12.2), Spy Kids: All the Time in the World ($11.6), Grindhouse ($11.5)
Three sequels and two Tarantino films are all that separate Escape from Planet Earth from being THE BIGGEST WEINSTEIN CO. OPENING EVER! It has a way to climb if it is to pass Hoodwinked's $51.3 million (to be the sixth highest-grossing film, if not profitable) film in its catalog and there are big family fantasy films right around the corner. Just remember -- Weinstein did not want the adults to see it. Can anyone hear the commercial theme for Halloween III?
Not Even Beautiful-on-the-Inside Creatures
It may indeed be the best film of the week, but the leopard with the least amount of spots isn't winning any prizes from critics or audiences. The latest Twilight/Harry Potter void filler was an absolute dud over Valentine's Day AND Presidents' Day weekend keeping Warner Bros. in the basement of 2013 with a trifecta of major underperformers. The $60-million budgeted Gangster Squad has only done $87 million worldwide. The $55-million budgeted Bullet to the Head has barely made $10 million at home. Now another $60-million production is going to labor to make half that in the States and must hope its international cast makes some of that up overseas.
Warner Bros.' 2012 successes of The Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit, Magic Mike and Argo may have eased the pain of Dark Shadows, Rock of Ages and Cloud Atlas, but this year is nothing but pain for the studio and things might not get much better. Jack the Giant Slayer's budget likely didn't come in with a discount and it has already moved itself away from last summer and into the impending wake of Sam Raimi's likely massive Oz: The Great and Powerful. That could make it this year's Wrath of the Titans for the studio. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is opening the South by Southwest Festival on March 8 and then opens just one week after Oz. We'll see how the reviews are coming out of the fest, though its $30-million budget with Steve Carell and Jim Carrey could generate a modest profit. After that Warner Bros. has the Jackie Robinson biopic (42) and Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby. It may ultimately take a bunch of drunks (The Hangover Part III) and the Man of Steel to begin saving the studio's 2013.
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]