Box Office Guru

Box Office Wrapup: Ender Bender as Game Wins No. 1

Meanwhile, Thor thunders out globally, Bad Grandpa stays strong, and Orson Scott Card loves our headline.

by | November 3, 2013 | Comments

A week before the Hemsworth brothers begin their double feature of November tentpoles, the sci-fi entry Ender’s Game opened atop the North American box office and was joined in the top five by fellow new releases Last Vegas and Free Birds, all of which posted moderate or respectable launches.

Debuting to an estimated $28M, the effects-driven futuristic action pic Ender’s Game landed in the number one spot with a performance that was reasonably good, but not especially impressive for an expensive production. Based on the best-selling novel, the PG-13 film averaged $8,218 from 3,407 locations including higher-priced IMAX and other large-format screens. Reviews were mixed for the Lionsgate release and the CinemaScore grade was a middling B+. Tapping into a built-in audience, not having any standout buzz, and facing the arrival of Thor: The Dark World next weekend, Game is not likely to last very long and should finish up with a front-loaded theatrical run.

Bad Grandpa enjoyed the best second weekend hold ever for a Jackass film dipping only 36% to an estimated $20.5M giving Paramount a healthy $62.1M in ten days. The low-cost $15M comedy should end its domestic run with about $110M making for yet another profitable installment for the eleven-year-old franchise. Fan feedback has been excellent.

The old timers comedy Last Vegas opened in third pace with an estimated $16.5M from 3,065 theaters for a respectable $5,390 average. Starring Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline, the PG-13 film about a group of old friends reuniting for a bachelor party in Sin City played to a mature crowd as expected. Critics were not too impressed, but moviegoers came out for the CBS Films release for the starpower and premise.

Audience data showed that 53% were female and an understandably high 83% were 25 and older. With a promising A- CinemaScore grade, a much older target audience, and no major direct competition coming, Vegas should be able to hold up well throughout the November weeks ahead and reach a domestic gross that doubles the $28M production cost.

2013 has been a tough year for animated films – especially those that are not on the very top tier – and Free Birds was the latest to lack excitement with family audiences. The PG-rated turkey flick debuted to an estimated $16.2M from 3,736 theaters for a mild $4,336 average. Relativity had relatively clear sailing for its launch as the only other kidpic out there – Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 – was in its sixth weekend. But the target audience was not excited to spend top dollar for this toon and reviews were lousy.

No animated films open until Thanksgiving so the distributor is hoping that lack of competition will help in the days and weeks ahead. The A- CinemaScore indicates that customers were fairly pleased with their purchase. Even bigger players like DreamWorks, Fox, and Sony have struggled to make toons work this year.

Space juggernaut Gravity fell back to fifth place but still posted a solid frame grossing an estimated $13.1M making for the best fifth weekend gross for any film since The Avengers. Warner Bros. has banked a stunning $219.2M to date making it the highest-grossing non-franchise film of 2013, and number eight overall. The Bullock blockbuster also smashed the $200M international and $400M global marks this weekend. The $27.1M overseas weekend gross pushed the offshore cume to $207.5M with worldwide climbing up to $426.7M.

Captain Phillips, another star-driven survival thriller getting Oscar buzz, followed with an estimated $8.5M. Down only 27%, the Tom Hanks film stands at $82.6M to date.

Fox Searchlight gave another expansion to its awards hopeful 12 Years A Slave which widened from 123 to 410 theaters and more than doubled its weekend gross in the process. The acclaimed period drama took in an estimated $4.6M and posted another promising average with $11,220 putting it in good shape for the road ahead. Many prestige films stumble when expanding to this many markets but Slave is remaining a relevant and much-talked-about film bringing in new audiences thanks in part to stellar reviews. Cume is $8.8M and next weekend it expands again into roughly 1,000 locations.

Three C’s rounded out the top ten. Toon sequel Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 dropped 33% to an estimated $4.2M for a $106.2M cume for Sony. Horror flick Carrie grossed an estimated $3.4M, down 43%, giving Sony $32M to date. Fox’s crime drama The Counselor tumbled 59% in its sophomore round to an estimated $3.3M putting the total at just $13.6M.

Rachel McAdams saw lackluster results for her latest romance About Time which was given a limited release in only 175 locations this weekend by Universal. The R-rated time travel love story bowed to an estimated $1.1M for a mild average of $6,046 which does not bode well for next weekend’s nationwide expansion. Reviews have been mixed.

Generating plenty of must-see awards buzz – especially in the acting categories – was Dallas Buyers Club which delivered a superb platform launch over the weekend as the final release for the current incarnation of Focus Features. The Matthew McConaughey film bowed to an estimated $264,000 from only nine locations in New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto for a strong $29,333 average. The R-rated true story expands on Friday to a dozen new markets – including Dallas – and will be everywhere by November 22. Reviews were sensational and McConaughey is seen as a major contender for the Academy Award for Best Actor.

A week ahead of its domestic launch, the super hero tentpole Thor: The Dark World opened across much of the planet this weekend taking in a sensational $109.4M from 36 markets led by $13.4M in the U.K. The second Thor flick lands in over 3,800 North American theaters this Friday (with first shows beginning at 8:00pm on Thursday night) and has scared away all other new wide releases. China also opens next weekend so the global tally will soar by the end of next weekend.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $118.3M which was even with last year when Wreck-it Ralph opened at number one with $49M; but up 18% from 2011 when Puss in Boots stayed in the top spot with $33.1M in its second weekend.

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