Sony's SNE +1.99% $55 million true-life pirate hijacking drama opened with a surprisingly robust $26 million debut. This is easily Tom Hank‘s biggest live-action debut since the $46m debut of Angels & Demons back in May 2009. The film parlayed strong reviews and Oscar buzz for Mr. Hanks into what’s an uncommonly strong debut for this kind of “adult drama”, just above the $24m debut weekend of Denzel Washington’s Flight last November. Even if Tom Hanks’s face wasn’t on the main US poster, this debut is very much an affirmation of his bankability in the right project. As always, it’s star+concept and this was a match made in proverbial heaven.
Flight seems as good a comparison as any, as does The Town. The Paramount release parlayed strong word-of-mouth to overcome mixed reviews and end up with a solid $94 million, or a strong 3.8x multiplier. The Warner Bros. Ben Affleck heist drama scored a 4x multiplier after a $23m debut. A similar number for Captain Phillips will get it to $95-$100m, with an extra boost coming from its PG-13 rating, the fact that tomorrow is a holiday (thus boosting its four-day total higher than usual), and a stronger Oscar buzz, as the film will be in serious contention for more than just Best Actor this time around. If it can open this strong against the second weekend of Gravity, it’ll be just fine in the long run.
Not to be remotely outdone, Warner Bros.’ Gravity proved a genuine sensation, following up scorching over/under $6 million weekday numbers for a $44.2 million second weekend, down an eyepoppingly small 21% from last weekend. The film cleared $100m yesterday and and will end today with $123.4m.
The film, which is playing 84% 3D and 20% IMAX ($9m), is a genuine sensation,. It also looks to indeed be playing like a classic Sandy Bullock long-legged blockbuster. It has surpassed Speed ($121m) and will surpass Ocean’s Twelve ($125m) tomorrow to become Bullock’s fourth-biggest and George Clooney‘s third-biggest respective grossers.
This $44 million second weekend would have been the second-biggest opening weekend for October and September, and it would have surpassed George Clooney’s Batman & Robin and Sandra Bullock‘s The Heat to be their best opening weekends ever. Of note, the film has made $26.5 million over the last ten days in IMAX alone, including the second-largest 2nd Saturday in IMAX history ($3.7m). That 21% drop marks the smallest second weekend drop for a $55m+ debut in history. At this current rate, it should cross $150m by next weekend and soar past $200m by Halloween.
The only question now, aside from overseas strength, is how well it can weather the November blockbuster onslaught of Ender’s Game, Thor: The Dark World, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and Disney’s Frozen, especially once it starts bleeding those all-important IMAX screens. Still, the film is absolutely an event and if it can survive the inevitable ”Boo-hoo, special effects!” backlash, it will surely be among the top Oscar contenders for the season.
The second new release, Open Road Films‘ Machete Kills was dead-on-arrival. The relatively unrequested sequel to the 2010 cult oddity earned just $3.79 million for the weekend. Still, this was clearly about Robert Rodriguez doing whatever Robert Rodriguez wanted to do on a reasonable budget, around $20m, and Open Road picked this one up for $2m. It’s not a hit, but it will eventually break even somewhere down the line. If we do get a Machete Kills Again, it’ll either be direct-to-DVD or because Robert Rodriguez called in some favors or was able to cast someone huge in a supporting role (think Machete versus Sandra Bullock… which would actually be cool).
Relativity’s Romeo and Juliet debuted with an estimated $500,000 on 461 screens. Not much more to see there. In holdover news, Prisoners earned $3.6 million for its fourth weekend, ending the frame with $53.6m. It’s dead as an Oscar contender, but it will have to settle for being a well-liked and profitable star vehicle. We’re the Millers now sits with $146m, and it’s officially past American Pie 2 for the biggest-grossing R-rated comedy in August history.
Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 is holding strong, with an estimated $14.2m for its third weekend, obviously aided by the holiday. The $78m sequel now has basically matched its budget domestically by today. The first film had $81m by its 17th day, with a $15m third weekend as well. At this point, it’s basically a coin toss as to whether Cloudy 2 will surpass the $124m domestic gross of Cloudy 1. But since the film was so cheap to produce, it’s really a pointless debate.
Baggage Claim now has $18m domestic while Don Juan and Rush both topped $20m by today, with the latter at $22.2m following a $2.4m weekend. 20th Century Fox’s Runner, Runner earned another $3.73m in its second weekend, bringing its total to $14.1m. It will barely top $20m when all is said and done. Insidious Chapter 2 earned another $2.6m (down just 32%) for a $78.4m cume. Riddick has surpassed $40m, with $41m domestic.
That’s it for now. Next weekend sees the wide releases of Carrie, Escape Plan, and The Fifth Estate, along with the limited debuts of the Twelve Years A Slave and All Is Lost. Next weekend will crazy for me, so you probably won’t see box office stuff from me until Monday morning. If you need your fix next weekend and can’t wait, don’t settle for a paragraph or two from the trades. Go to Box Office Voodoo for a detailed and nuanced write-up.