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Box Office: America Goes For a Ride Along

Amir here, with the weekend’s box office report. Initially I had decided to mirror last week’s column and predict Oscar winners based on their current financial gains – hey! It worked for the Globes! – but Ride Along’s performance has been so stellar that it warrants a mention.  The buddy cop comedy starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart has been described in some quarters as a comedy version of Training Day with a romantic subplot. That’s probably enticing enough; add to it the fact that Kevin Hart’s hot off the incredible box office performance of his standup show, Let Me Explain, it’s really no wonder Ride Along did so well. Still, snatching the best ever January opening, beating a six year old record set by Cloverfield in the process, is beyond the studio’s best expectations. January is always dominated by the previous year’s holdovers though, and remains a box office hell for new films. To put things in perspective, Ride Along would not have had the biggest opening of all time in any other month, coming only close to the September record (Hotel Transylvania).

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart in Ride Along

Lone Survivor occupied second place with a respectable drop. I have yet to see it for myself and my level of interest in ever seeing it can probably be found with a very powerful microscope somewhere, but the film’s been creating “controversies” because of its – depending on who you ask – realistic depiction, endorsement or sanctification of soldiers. You can count on it to continue to do good business based on the on-going conversation. Another film that’s still going strong is Frozen, which continues to sing and dance its way into American hearts in its eighth week. This week’s 18 percent drop is better than most had expected because direct competition has finally arrived in the shape of The Nut Job, which is surprisingly not a porn parody. Given the latter film’s modest budget, we can expect a profit despite its limited appeal to adult audiences.

RIDE ALONG $41.2m new
LONE SURVIVOR $23.2m (cum. 74m)
THE NUT JOB $20.5m new
FROZEN $11.9m (cum. 332.6m)
AMERICAN HUSTLE $10.6m (cum. 116.4m)
DEVIL’S DUE $8.5m new
AUGUST: OSAGE $7.6m (cum. 18.1m)
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET $7.5m (cum. 90.2m)
SAVING MR. BANKS $4.1m (cum. 75.3m)

Among the Oscar nominees, the biggest winners were American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave. The former lost more than 400 screens but had a nearly 30% improvement in sales; the latter regained 650 screens and sold five times as much as last week. Captain Phillips also added more than 700 theatres and saw a dramatic surge in ticket sales, but the nominations didn’t come to the rescue of two films: Inside Llewyn Davis and Her. Last week I mentioned that the Oscars would need to help them out if they want to turn their small fortunes around. I was proven right in the case of Llewyn Davis, as it failed to gain any momentum from Thursday’s announcement and sadly saw its numbers crash. Her experienced a more modest drop but still didn’t benefit at all from its Best Picture nomination. I have several theories, but none of them seem plausible. My best guess is that, the demographic to whom Her appeals, was always going to watch it irrespective of its awards success. Oscar nominations can’t convince everybody to watch a mustachioed, bespectacled man dressed in high pants fall in love with a computer.

Anyway, I didn’t hit the theatres this weekend, and looking ahead, nothing appeals to me before Rhymes for the Young Ghouls, which opens on January 31st in my corner of the world. What did you watch this weekend? Any theories on the Her drop?

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Reader Comments (16)

Her is destined to be more of a cult classic. I had to shut down people on my Facebook that were saying it sounded stupid.

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

I'm not surprised Inside Llewyn Davis didn't get a bounce from it's cinematography and sound nominations, but I saw it again anyway. It's my favorite film of 2013. It might be my favorite film of the past 3 years. It's a masterpiece.

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Suzanne -- It is.

I saw The Wolf of Wall Street. It was a disturbing experience because my audience was literally howling during certain scenes.

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I saw Lone Survivor to begin my journey to Oscar nominated completism. Egads! It's pretty bad.

I'll ignore the jingoism because I was turned off by the lack of feeling I had in seeing the brutality on both the Taliban and the SEALs. That's just a plain failure all-around in both writing and directing. It's unremarkable filmmaking that feels third-rate Tony Scott/Michael trying to be Kathryn Bigelow or Sam Peckinpah. It didn't help I felt like a knew so little of the men who died.

I wanted to sense how much they knew the region than just walking along, accidentally being found by a kid, and nearly thought about killing him. I don't doubt their intelligence but given how much talking and banter is done, there's more interest in Anchorman and Napoleon Dynamite than the actual Taliban. Only Ben Foster felt somewhat real to the soldiers, sailors, and Marines I grew up with. The rest felt like dress 'em up. That opening of see actual SEALs train, sorry, I want to apply my awe of those folks to the actual actors on screen. Cool, crazy stunt down the hill but it would help if I got a better sense of place or actual framing of scenes. New Mexico can pretend to be a lot of things, Afghanistan really ain't one of those places

The film's critics have been politicized in a really ugly way by the likes of Glenn Beck and his minions who feel like because it's a true story they have a license to attack 'liberals' who hate the film. But to my aesthete eye, it is just so flat and uninteresting visually. What Berg does with a digital camera and what Bigelow does in a digital camera in Zero Dark Thirty should be taught in a compare/contrast tutorial of how to properly to use and not use a digital camera in war films to future cinematographers. Also, this was the total nadir of Explosions in the Sky as composers. Shame them went out with this for 2013 when they had good scores in Prince Avalanche and Mud.

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

CORRECTION: Apparently Berg shot Lone Survivor in 35mm. It was that flat that I mistook it for digital.

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

I watched Her and Jack Ryan. I'm surprised that Jack Ryan performed the way it did on your chart. Though it will never be another Bond or Bourne it is still an action / thriller with recognizable stars in it. The fact that it came behind a movie called The Nut Job and didn't even strike a mention by you is unbelievable.

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPJ

PJ- I didn't mention it because it was just kind of... meh.
I never thought it would do better than 20m in the opening weekend. Trailers were so generic, and Chris Pine is simply not an actor people will rush to see.

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

Well... maybe audiences are angry for not having both Phoenix and Scarlett nominated in the acting categories and staying at home crying for the lack of justice of the Academy instead of going watch the movie (again) is their way to show their sadness. (kidding!)

Now, seriously... I don't know why, specially after ScarJo's appearance at David Letterman's promoting the movie, it should get a nice number this week

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEd

Saw Her. Honestly I thought the concept was stronger than the story, and it just doesn't have that ability to generate strong word of mouth, pure and simple. There's a lot to appreciate in this movie, from the location, the costumes, the effects, and foremost the performances, and it definitely aims for social commentary, but it's not 'hip' the way you would have expected a future-realistic movie to be. As a result, it's a niche movie by definition and if anything, anti-establishment, and an Oscar nomination may not reflect on it in a positive (or negative) way.

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterG.ShaQ

I saw Inside Llewyn Davis and Her. Liked the latter a great deal; the former was a little underwhelming.

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Friday I saw The Past. It's not a patch on A Separation, but what would be? The only other Farhadi I've seen is About Elly, also very good - both it and A Separation had such a laser like cultural specificity, and benefited from that tremendously in my eyes, whereas The Past felt like any number of generic French family dramas. The rigor of the writing, especially in the first half, made it recogizably Farhadi's work, and the whole is not bad, certainly - very well acted, very emotional and intense, but kind of bland and nonspecific and hobbled by increasingly shaky plotting as it wanders along.

Saturday I saw The Naked Dawn at Lincoln Center. It is one of those magical little discoveries, a B-western shot on the cheap by the great Edgar Ulmer that shouldn't work at all, featuring as it does Anthony Kennedy playing a Mexican Bandito named Santiago with an atrocious Mexican accent. But it's somehow a great performance and the movie is just dynamite - sad and mythic and sublime, with a gorgeous score, sharp plotting and some great Technicolor photography. I love coming across a random B-movie and realizing halfway through that it's better than all but one or two movies I saw last year. Not on DVD, unfortunately, but hopefully it'll make it's way there soon. It's a tiny little masterpiece.

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

A friend of mine, female, casual movie goer, said she wasn't going to see Her. Said it looked like a chick flick where the chick was replaced with a computer.

January 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

We saw American Hustle for the second time. The performances are still excellent, with Adams, Bale, and Renner my favorites. The points that I felt draggy in the first viewing, I'm thinking now might be because the tempo doesn't vary enough during the movie.

We saw Her at Christmas. I think part of its difficulty is with the title. I had to stop saying " we saw Her" and say "we saw that movie called Her". The title doesn't give you any information about the movie. It doesn't sound like a guy's movie, but it doesn't sound like a woman's movie either, as "her" implies it's someone else looking at the woman, not the woman herself. Even for those of us who have seen the movie and liked it, the title Her doesn't add anything or explain anything. It's not a title like Lost in Translation or Eternal Sunshine, etc.

January 20, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteradri

I was supposed to see "Jack Ryan" starring my future husband Kevin Costner, along with my co-worker, who has a major crush on Chris Pine, but her Real Life husband decided on other plans, and that got nixed.

So I ordered HBO instead, to watch "Looking".

January 20, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

Peggy Sue: Um...laughter (what I presume you mean by "howling") is not what you need to worry about. The Wolf of Wall Street IS a comedy (a pretty dark and long one, yes, but it's still A COMEDY) and laughing with a movie or other piece of media isn't always the same thing (and in this case, it probably wasn't) the same thing as the audience AGREEING with the morality of the protagonist. Now, if they were actually pumping their fist and shouting "Yeah" or "Bleep yeah", THAT'S when you get unambiguously disturbed at the viewing audience.

January 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I saw "The Legend of Hercules" which was exactly what I expected from a movie directed by Renny Harlin and starring Kellan Lutz.

January 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

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