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Entries in box office (151)

Sunday
Feb232014

Box Office: Can a Plane Stop The LEGO Movie?

Amir with the weekend’s box office report. The LEGO Movie managed to fend off meek competition and remain in the number one spot. Three weeks at the top and the amount of money it has cashed in so far have warranted Warner Brothers to announce a sequel, already planned for 2017! But don’t expect it to stay number one next week, when the Liam Neeson no-snakes airplane thriller, Non-Stop (featuring Lupita Nyong'o in an abrupt change of pace) hits the screens. That film has taken its title as a cue for its advertising and I suspect enough people are intrigued to see it despite what sounds like a ludicrous plot.

BOX OFFICE
01. THE LEGO MOVIE $31.4M (cum. $183.1m)
02. 3 DAYS TO KILL $12.3m new
03. POMPEII $10m new
04. ROBOCOP $9.4m (cum. $43.6m)
05. THE MONUMENTS MEN $8.1m (cum. $58m)

This weekend saw two new wide openings: Paul W.S. Anderson’s Pompeii, which managed to earn back 1/10th of its production budget and died faster than an entire city under a volcano.  When I was a child, I was absolutely obsessed with the real life story of this natural disaster - I had a large collection of books, pictures and other pre-internet Pompeii-related memorabilia. That the marketing campaign of this film managed to keep me away from the theatre tells you just how much the studio did everything wrong. 3 Days to Kill was the other offering. I can’t think of anything interesting to say about this one, which is possibly the same position McG and Kevin Costner have found themselves in since signing on.

In limited release The Wind Rises, Hayao Miyazaki’s maybe-last-film-maybe-not, maybe-a-masterpiece-maybe-just-propaganda opened on 21 screens did modest business. (Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, reviewed here, was the only film with a better per screen average this weekend.) I’m afraid I found Miyazaki's Oscar nominee a bit underwhelming at TIFF – and I still hold a grudge because the screening kept me from guesting on Nathaniel’s festival podcast – but it’s definitely worth your time. What is not worth your time is In Secret, formerly known as Therese, that I caught up with at the same festival. In my review I called it the second worst film I have ever seen in seven years of attending the festival. I stand by that statement and advise you against spending any money on this atrocity, unless you are looking for a lot of unintentional laughs.

As you read this I'm watching Agnès Varda’s Cléo de 5 à 7 (1962) for the first time. For the FIRST time! What have you watched this weekend?

Monday
Feb172014

Box Office: Everything Is (Still) Awesome!

Amir here, with the long weekend’s box office report. It was Valentine’s so romantic flicks opened, one of which didn’t do too well financially. But enough about RoboCop! How about that About Last Night? It’s been a few weeks since the last time we were collectively surprised that a “black” film did well at the box office, so let’s go at it again: can you believe that a film with a non-white cast can sell tickets too? Unbelievable, no? It turns out Hollywood doesn’t need to cast white people in every role, not even in all romantic comedies. (Perhaps not coincidentally, the last rom-com to do this well, Think Like a Man, starred three of the actors in this quartet: Kevin Hart, Regina Hall and Michael Ealy.)

oh, wait. that's not right somehow

BOX OFFICE
THE LEGO MOVIE
$63.5m (cum. $143.8m)
ABOUT LAST NIGHT
$28.5 new
ROBOCOP
$25.6m (cum. $30.3m) new
THE MONUMENTS MEN
$18m (cum. $46.1m)
ENDLESS LOVE
$15m new
RIDE ALONG
$10m (cum. $117.4m)
WINTER’S TALE
$8.1m new
FROZEN
$8m (cum. $378.2m)
LONE SURVIVOR
$4.7m (cum. $119m)
THAT AWKWARD MOMENT
$3.8 (cum. $21.9m)

The other new release targeted to the lovey-dovey crowd was Endless Love – three 80s remakes in one weekend is a new low for the creatively constipated Hollywood – and according to Box Office Mojo, it nearly broke a record for the absurd title of “the most front-loaded release of all time”; 56% of the film’s gross was pocketed on Friday. The LEGO Movie held on to the throne, though, and after two weeks, is already a major contender for 2014's year-end top ten. I re-watched it and it was even funnier and smarter than I’d remembered --  we already have our first solid contender in the best animated film race. I also watched Blue Jasmine a second time and this one also improved significantly upon a revisit. Later tonight, I’ll be off to see Palestine’s Oscar nominee, Omar. (You can always follow everything I see here on this page.)

What did you watch this weekend?

Sunday
Feb092014

Box Office: Lord Business Does Big Business with "The LEGO Movie"

Amir here, with the weekend’s box office report. To the surprise of nobody, tiny little yellow people beat middle-aged white men to the top spot at the box office. The LEGO Movie, advertised around the world building toys we loved as kids, took the top spot with $69.1m, which makes it the second best February opening of all time and among the best original releases ever – only a little off the all time high set by The Simpsons Movie, though you can judge for yourself how 'original' they are. The Lord/Miller directing duo is going to have a terrific year with their sequel to 21 Jump Street also on the way. With box office and critics both in their camp, expect their stock to rise even higher within studios. The LEGO Movie is the first blockbuster I watched on the opening Friday in ages (Skyfall was the last!) and I was thoroughly rewarded with an unstoppable thrill ride. 

chart adapted from boxoffice.com

The Monuments Men was obviously never going to win the weekend but it did very respectable business. Whether it can sustain these numbers over long run despite terrible word of mouth is to be seen, but I can’t help but think Clooney and co. saved themselves a lot of embarrassment by switching their release date to February. Awards expectations are anathema to weak prestige projects like this and competition at the multiplex is no less lenient in late December. In other news, Frozen just passed Despicable Me 2 to become 2013’s third highest grosser. It won’t be able to go any further up the ranking, but the numbers are beyond impressive at this point. International sales is also nearing one billion dollars, a feat very few films can lay claim to.

In Oscar related news, seven of the nine best picture nominees are still in the top 20. Most of them lost a lot of theaters this weekend and as the shine of their nomination wears off, they’ll continue to drop. Still, most can be considered financial successes at this point. Considering budget and overseas sales, Nebraska is the one film that missed the mark, though who knows how Dallas Buyers Club and Her will perform internationally.

Anyway, other than The LEGO Movie, I watched a European co-production called Girl on a Bicycle, about which the less said the better. What did you watch this weekend?

Sunday
Jan262014

Box Office: I, Failure

Amir here, with the weekend’s box office report.

It was a quiet weekend for new releases, with only one film opening wide, and it might as well have not bothered at all. I, Frankenstein opened to a catastrophic $8m on a $65m budget. By next weekend, it will most likely be out of the top ten and most definitely out of our collective memory. I really don’t have much to add the pile of ridicule that’s already been heaped on the film, chiefly because I can’t figure out what the hell it’s even about despite the good half an hour I spent this morning researching its advertisements. I will just leave you with this brilliant tweet instead:

Ride Along remained at the top of the chart after its strong opening weekend, though it’s sure to be dethroned when the bizarrely titled That Awkward Moment opens next week. Meanwhile, Frozen broke yet another record this week and became the highest grossing original animated film of all time. That is a fantastic feat for Disney and an indication that despite what the studios continue to believe, female protagonists can sell as many as tickets as their boy counterparts – though I don’t mean to insinuate in any way that Frozen’s appeal is limited to gender or age; it’s been successful precisely because it’s drawing everybody in. Next weekend it gets a sing-along version in theaters.

BOX OFFICE
RIDE ALONG
$21.1m (cum. $75.4m)
LONE SURVIVOR
$12.6 (cum. $93.6m)
THE NUT JOB
$12.3m (cum. $40.2m)
FROZEN
$9m (cum. $347.8m)
JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT
$8.8m (cum. $30.1m)
I, FRANKENSTEIN
$8.2m new
AMERICAN HUSTLE
$7.1m (cum. $127m)
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY
$5m (cum. $26.5m)
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
$5m (cum. $98m)
DEVIL’S DUE $2.7m (cum. $12.8m)

On the Oscar front, Hustle and Wolf are still going strong, while Nebraska, Dallas Buyers Club and 12 Years a Slave all expanded (or re-expanded, as in the case of the latter) and did modest business. Not enough has been written about the box office success of Steve McQueen’s film, but I personally think $43 is a really solid number for a film that has been constantly dubbed 'brutal' and 'unwatchable' in the media. Irrespective of how well the nominees do in the remainder of their theatrical run, the sum total of their gross will remain the second lowest in the post-5 best picture era after 2011, when only one film (The Help) sold more than $100m.

I didn't hit the theatres this weekend but dedicated my time to some classics instead. What did you watch?

Sunday
Jan192014

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.

BOX OFFICE
RIDE ALONG $41.2m new
LONE SURVIVOR $23.2m (cum. 74m)
THE NUT JOB $20.5m new
JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT $17.2m 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?