Box Office Report: 'Wolf' a Hit AND Miss with Audiences While Christmas Belongs to Old Favorites

Box Office Report: 'Wolf' a Hit AND Miss with Audiences While Christmas Belongs to Old Favorites

Dec 29, 2013

Here are your five-day Christmas box office returns (new releases bolded):

1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - $49.6 million

2. Frozen - $44.3 million

3. Anchorman: The Legend Continues - $35.6 million

4. The Wolf of Wall Street - $34.3 million

5. American Hustle - $33.3 million

6. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - $25.5 million

7. Saving Mr. Banks - $23.8 million

8. 47 Ronin - $20.5 million

9. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - $15.7 million

10. Grudge Match - $13.4 million

The Big Stories

As usual, everyone had enough money left over from the holidays to give to Hollywood this week. Films everyone were down on as potential disappointments got their expected Christmas bounce. The Hobbit will be hitting $200 million this week and Anchorman 2 will be crossing $100, not to mention the total domestic gross of the original. Even the film destined to be the biggest bomb of 2013 grossed more in five days than Jason Statham in Homefront, Mark Wahlberg in Broken City and whatever Beautiful Creatures was supposed to be. While the big winner amongst the new openers with critics was The Wolf of Wall Street, audiences gave B pluses to the other big releases and gave Scorsese and DiCaprio the rare "C" grade. No matter, Paramount still got them to show up to watch drugs and sex over the holiday.


What Did People Expect?

With the exception of his family-friendly Hugo and Academy-friendly The Aviator in recent years, you know the R rating attached to a Martin Scorsese film is not going to be a close call. That R rating is earned. And to hear Academy members heckling him when most of them should be getting their eyes checked DMV style if they want to continue voting, it's pathetic. Only eight movies this year were rated lower than a "C+" at Cinemascore and this is the company that The Wolf of Wall Street shares:

The Counselor, The Family, The Last Exorcism Part II, Movie 43, The Purge, Runner Runner, Scary Movie 5

No matter where you lie in the debate of what The Wolf of Wall Street is supposed to be or what you think it is, to see anyone rank it lower than Machete Kills, Jobs and The freakin' Host (sorry, Open Road) makes one want to smack the next person who asks why they don't make films for grown-ups anymore. By Monday, Wolf will have already outgrossed all of those films (except The Purge) and it will be interesting to see how it plays out with another holiday week ahead and the Oscar nominations just a few short weeks away. Here are your top 20 five-day Christmas Day openers:

Sherlock Holmes ($83.6 million), Les Miserables ($58.5), Marley & Me ($58.2), Django Unchained ($54.3), Catch Me if You Can ($48.6), Bedtime Stories ($44.4), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ($43.7), Cheaper by the Dozen ($42.0), Patch Adams ($35.4), The Wolf of Wall Street ($34.3), Valkyrie ($33.5), It's Complicated ($30.6), Ali ($30.5), War Horse ($26.0), The Secret Life of Walter Mitty ($25.5), Parental Guidance ($25.1), Aliens vs. Predator - Requiem ($23.7), Cold Mountain ($21.7), Paycheck ($20.8), 47 Ronin ($20.5)

That lands Scorsese smack dab in no-man's land at the Christmas box office. Every one of the films ranked above him eventually grossed over $100 million. Only one film below Wolf on that list did. I guess by films for adults, people mean those by Nancy Meyers. Proof not everyone is as grown up as they think.


Does Anyone Else Have a Chance?

Not really. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty might be one of the better of Fox's annual stinkeroo holiday offerings (a list over the years that not only includes this year's Walking with Dinosaurs but also Parental Guidance, Gulliver's Travels, Fat Albert, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem and countless Chipmunks films) but it's going to continue to compete with Saving Mr. Banks for the PG-rated adult dollar. And only one of them will be getting any mention through awards season. Banks is up to over $37 million to date with more than half of that coming over the past five days. Mitty is likely to finish somewhere in the $70-80 million range and will be nowhere close to getting back its $90 million budget unless overseas audiences latch onto the dreamer who stops dreaming halfway through the film.

Notice the opener that didn't make the Top 20 above? Warner Bros.' Grudge Match certainly did not suffer from a lack of publicity. Though apparently that Twitter campaign they extended to the ads (using anonymous tweeters to sell their movie until junketeers Greg Russell and Nancy Jay could get in on the pun party) was not very successful in spreading the word. Here is the rest of that list for Christmas Day openers on over 1,000 screens in their first five days:

Fat Albert ($19.8), Peter Pan ($17.1), Rumor Has It ($15.07), Gulliver's Travels ($15.05), The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep ($14.0), Grudge Match ($13.4), The Great Debaters ($11.5), The Spirit ($11.4), Darkness ($10.6), The Darkest Hour ($8.97), Black Christmas ($8.71), Wolf Creek ($8.40), Pinocchio ($1.80)

Grumpy Old Men (1993) and Grumpier Old Men (1995) grossed $70.1 and $71.5, respectively over their Christmas openings. The five films above Grudge Match all grossed in the $40-49 million range. If the film can do $70-80 million overseas (something that Rambo, Rocky Balboa, Escape Plan and both Expendables films did) the film could break even for the studio unlike its big Stallone debacle Bullet to the Head back in February.


Warner Bros., Disney and Bieber Thankfully Taken Down a Peg

Up until this week it looked as if Warner Bros.' Jack the Giant Slayer and Disney's The Lone Ranger were going to be the one-two punch on the biggest bombs of 2013. When Universal's 47 Ronin failed to connect in its initial overseas launch in Japan (prior to its U.S. debut), just about all bets were off. The FX-heavy martial arts extravaganza was pimped at the annual Cinemacon theater owners convention in Las Vegas as Universal's big November release... in 2012. Once the film was delayed an entire year, its $175 million budget was looming on the studio's books with the hopes it could pull off a World War Z-like miracle.

A $7 million start on Christmas day wasn't bad. Only $13 million over the next four was. Universal needs 47 Ronin to gross roughly $152.4 million to not be the biggest bomb of 2013. Over $173 million worldwide to not be its own biggest bomb of the year, currently owned by R.I.P.D. All that being said, even with two of the four biggest box office bombs of 2013 and closing out the year with six-of-seven box office losers (including 2 Guns, Kick-Ass 2, Riddick and Rush), Universal is still going to net over $800 million profit, second only to Walt Disney which, banking on Frozen (over $400 million worldwide) and Saving Mr. Banks is going to make a run at a cool billion. Oh yeah, and Justin Bieber's Believe grossed only $4.2 million since Christmas. That's not even a third of what Never Say Never grossed on its opening day in 2011. How the mighty have fallen. Now everyone point at him and laugh.

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]




Categories: Features, Box office
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