Box Office Guru

Box Office Guru Wrapup: Latest Die Hard Leads Presidents' Day Weekend

by | February 17, 2013 | Comments

The Presidents’ Day holiday frame saw three films generate $20-25M in ticket sales but the action sequel A Good Day to Die Hard made enough to earn the number one spot. Comedy holdover Identity Thief dropped to second place while the new romance Safe Haven bowed in third. Overall box office was down from last year’s robust holiday while Oscar contenders for Best Picture remained popular with moviegoers looking for quality cinema.

Bruce Willis anchored his first solo number one hit in thirteen years with his return as John McClane in A Good Day to Die Hard which grossed an estimated $25M over the Friday-to-Sunday period. The R-rated Fox release averaged a good but not stellar $7,036 from 3,553 locations and grossed $33.2M since its Thursday launch on Valentine’s Day. The five-day debut including Monday Presidents’ Day should end up about $10M less than the $48.4M five-day Wednesday-to-Sunday opening of the last film in the series, Live Free or Die Hard from June 2007 which was the only PG-13 chapter in the series. The new Russian-set story enjoyed higher ticket prices plus some IMAX premiums. The prior film, 1995’s Die Hard with a Vengeance, bowed to $22.2M which would be roughly $40M at today’s prices.

Reviews were dreadful for the poorly-titled Good Day, easily the worst ever for the quarter-century-old franchise. The story found the wisecracking cop heading to Moscow to help his son, a CIA agent in trouble with master criminals. Older action heroes have been rejected by audiences lately with both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone striking out in recent weeks with The Last Stand and Bullet to the Head, respectively. But based on his most popular character, Bruce saw more box office on his opening day of Die Hard than those films took in on their entire opening weekends.

A Good Day to Die Hard skewed as expected to older men. Studio research showed that 55% of the crowd was male and 65% was 25 and older. The CinemaScore grade was a respectable B+. While domestic interest in Die Hard has cooled, overseas numbers were hot. The fifth Die Hard grossed $61.5M from 63 markets this weekend upping the international total to $80.1M including some Asian markets like Korea and Taiwan which debuted last weekend. Leading the way were the U.K. with $7.6M, Japan with $6.8M, Russia’s $6.7M, and Germany with $6.4M. Korea stands at $8.8M after its sophomore frame with France and Brazil opening next weekend plus China and Australia launching in March. Many Latin American markets more than doubled the openings of the last Die Hard. A final worldwide cume of over $350M is possible for the new pic. Action franchises like these usually continue on thanks in large part to overseas revenue potential.

Last weekend’s muscular number one smash Identity Thief found another sizable audience in its second round with an estimated $23.4M for an encouraging decline of only 32%. Universal has amassed a sizable $70.7M in ten days and could be headed for a finish in the vicinity of $130M. That is an impressive amount for a film that cost only $35M to produce.

Young women propelled the new romance Safe Haven into third place with an estimated $21.4M from 3,223 theaters for a solid $6,649 average. The Relativity release debuted at number one on Thursday with $8.8M because of Valentine’s Day but held its own over the weekend too leading to a $30.3M four-day start from Thursday-to-Sunday – just $3M behind the much more expensive Die Hard.

Reviews were dreadful, but that is common for romance movies based on Nicholas Sparks novels. Starring Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough, the PG-13 film played to an audience that was 71% female and 68% under 25. Safe Haven’s four-day start was even with the $30.5M three-day debut of 2010’s Dear John, also based on a Sparks book, which had much more starpower with Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried.

The Weinstein Co. scored a victory in fourth place with the 3D animated film Escape From Planet Earth which bowed to an estimated $16.1M over the three days since its Friday debut. With zero kidpics released by studios so far this year, the PG-rated toon had the family market all to itself and averaged a decent $4,886 from 3,288 locations. The CinemaScore was a B+.

Hollywood has programmed an excessive number of R-rated action films into the first two months of the year to go along with the string of adult-skewing Oscar contenders which have been mostly rated R. That created a huge void for this segment of the audience and with schools off for the long holiday frame, parents had no other options. The performance of Escape was especially good for a movie not based on a well-known brand, not from a big supplier of animated movies like Pixar or DreamWorks, and not featuring any major names in the voice cast. The Monday holiday should add plenty more for the long four-day weekend. Reviews were poor.

The hit zombie romance Warm Bodies scored a hot sophomore frame dipping only 21% against stiff competition collecting an estimated $9M. The Summit film has now grossed a stellar $50.2M in just 17 days and should continue to see much more thanks to terrific word-of-mouth. Picking up lost business due to last weekend’s east coast blizzard played a factor, but audiences are liking this unique story which is becoming a sleeper hit.

Bodies may have siphoned off some of the target audience for the supernatural tale Beautiful Creatures which bombed debuting to just $7.5M from 2,950 locations for a weak $2,529 average. Taking in $10M since its Thursday release, the PG-13 film based on the best-selling young adult novel hoped to connect with young women. But competition was tough and reviews were not encouraging. A middling B CinemaScore does not bode well for a teen-skewing film made to make most of its money upfront.

Steven Soderbergh’s drama Side Effects enjoyed a decent hold in its second weekend dipping 32% to an estimated $6.3M pushing the ten-day cume to $19.1M for Open Road. Best Picture contender Silver Linings Playbook once again eased by a scant amount. The Weinstein Co. hit grossed an estimated $6.1M, off only 5%, for a $98.5M total. It will crack nine digits on Monday or Tuesday.

Falling 40% to an estimated $3.5M was Paramount’s Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters which has banked $49.7M to date. Rounding out the top ten was Oscar contender Zero Dark Thirty which slipped just 23% to an estimated $3.1M giving Sony $88M overall.

In the final full weekend before the Academy Awards, moviegoers kept sampling all the major contenders with four more Best Picture nominees filling up spots on the chart with small declines. Front-runner Argo dipped only 6% to an estimated $2.2M putting Warner Bros. at $126.9M domestically and $204M worldwide. The Ben Affleck hit lands on Blu-ray this Tuesday and is preparing itself for a new audience on multiple platforms should it win Best Picture next Sunday. Lincoln, another big player, eased 10% to an estimated $1.7M for a cume to date of $176.3M. Worldwide is $235.3M.

Ang Lee’s Life of Pi declined by only 13% in its 13th weekend to an estimated $1.5M for $110.8M so far in North America and a stunning $577M globally. The Weinstein Co. collected an estimated $1.5M as well for Django Unchained, down 35%, with $157M domestic to date. Worldwide is now up to $365.6M. Les Misérables suffered the worst drop of any Best Picture contender falling 45% to an estimated $855,000 with $145.6M overall. Sony Classics expanded the French-language hit Amour and saw sales surge 92% to an estimated $721,000. Cume is $3.9M.

All eight Best Picture contenders that are still in theaters now finished in the Top 20 this weekend. The nine nominees together have grossed a whopping $918M domestically and an eye-popping $2 billion worldwide. Oscar ratings should see a boost this year since so many movie fans have actually seen so many of the top contenders.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $121.3M which was down 12% from the Friday-to-Sunday portion of last year’s Presidents’ Day frame when Safe House climbed into the number one spot with $23.6M; and down 4% from 2011 when Unknown debuted in the top spot with $21.9M.

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