Monday, November 4, 2013

"Ender's Game" solid with $27 million, "Last Vegas" surprises, "Free Birds" disappoints at weekend box office

The month of November began this past weekend with three new releases, all in different genres. Ender's Game was the star of the pack, with an all-star cast led by Asa Butterfield and Harrison Ford, and a massive $110 million budget. The film debuted to $27 million this weekend, which is in line with most expectations. But given its monumental budget, Ender's Game could be considered a disappointment. It performed around the level of Elysium and After Earth, both of which had similar budgets, but was far behind Oblivion, Pacific Rim and Star Trek Into Darkness. All in all, with a "B+" Cinemascore, Ender's Game could hold well for a couple weeks. However, with strong competition from the Thor and Hunger Games sequels, Ender's Game will have a hard time reaching a number above $80 million.

In second place was Paramount's faux-documentary comedy Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. Despite a "B" Cinemascore from audiences in its opening weekend, Bad Grandpa dropped a minuscule 38% for a second weekend total of $20 million. That impressive second weekend raises Bad Grandpa's total gross to $61.5 million, and the film now has a legitimate shot of reaching $100 million. Comedy continued to dominate the box office further down in third place, with CBS Films' Robert De Niro and Morgan Freeman-starred Last Vegas, debuting to $16.3 million. That's an impressive total for an older-skewing film with little appeal to younger generations. But the good news keeps on going for CBS Films as Last Vegas also received an "A-" Cinemascore from audiences. I found the film highly entertaining and I hope you check it out soon.

The biggest disappointment of the weekend was Relativity's Free Birds. The animated comedy (which happened to be the first since Sony's Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2) debuted to $15.8 million, which is below any other animated film this year. Granted, the trailers never truly sold the film, and it was from a studio that is less than prominent in the animated film world, but with the dearth of animated films at the box office, a better total should have been expected. Good news for Free Birds is that it received an "A-" Cinemascore and has no direct competition until Frozen. Still, don't expect this film to break out.

In fifth place this weekend was Warner Bros.' Gravity, which held strong with a 36% drop for a $12.8 million weekend. The space epic has now grossed $218.8 million, a strong total for a film with just a $100 million budget. Gravity now has a legit shot at $250 million and will likely take home several Oscars with it. Also holding strong was Sony's Captain Phillips, which finished in sixth place with an $8.4 million weekend. The hostage drama has grossed a strong $82 million so far, which outpaces 2012's Argo in that same stretch.

Fox Searchlight's 12 Years a Slave finally expanded into a large number of theaters, and grossed an impressive $4.79 million. That's enough to raise its total to $8.9 million. The drama should continue to spread through word of mouth over the next few weeks. In eighth place was Sony's Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. The animated comedy held decently with new competition, and grossed $4.1 million this weekend. The film has now grossed $106.1 million.

And to round out the top ten, we had The Counselor in ninth place with $3.3 million. The poorly-reviewed drama has now grossed $13.7 million. And finally, we had Carrie in tenth place with $3.2 million for a total of $31.8 million.

Next weekend sees the release of Thor: The Dark World and the wide release of About Time. Here are my predictions:

1. Thor: The Dark World- $98.2 million
2. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa- $12.5 million
3. Ender's Game- $12.2 million
4. Last Vegas- $10 million
5. Free Birds- $8.7 million
6. Gravity- $7.8 million
7. Captain Phillips- $5.1 million
8. About Time- $4.9 million
9. 12 Years a Slave- $4.2 million
10. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2- $2.4 million

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