Weekend Wrap-Up: Survivor Does More than Survive

Lone Survivor poster

As expected, Lone Survivor won the race to first place on the box office this past weekend. However, it crushed predictions to an astounding degree. It wasn't enough. The overall box office was down to $140 million. Granted, that was less than 1% lower than last weekend and just over 1% lower than the same weekend last year, but it is still frustrating. Besides the number one film, there's not a lot of positive news to report. Year-to-date, 2014 is a little behind 2013 at $413 million to $436 million. Granted, it is far too soon to talk about end of year results, but you obviously would want a fast start rather than a slow start.

Lone Survivor stunned analysts with its powerhouse first weekend of wide release. The film pulled in $37.85 million, which is second only to Cloverfield for biggest January opening weekends. Granted, it technically wasn't the film's opening weekend and if you include the film's limited release run, it has managed $38.23 million so far. This is a great start and with its reviews and a couple of major nominations, it could have strong enough legs to reach $100 million. That would be great news for 2014.

Frozen also beat expectations with $14.73 million over the weekend for a total of $317.32 million after 52 days of release. At this point, $350 million seems like a solid goal, putting it in close competition with Despicable Me 2 for biggest animated release of 2013. However, it does have direct competition this coming weekend, so that will likely end this film's chances at coming out on top.

The Legend of Hercules came within a rounding error of predictions with $8.87 million. Fortunately for the film, but unfortunately for the rest of the box office, this was enough for third place over the weekend. On the other hand, it is an early contender for worst movie of 2014 and its legs could be terrible. Unless it is a surprise hit internationally, this film will lose money for the studio.

The Wolf of Wall Street was next with $8.84 million over the weekend for a total of $78.43 million after three weeks of release. I'm confident the film will cross $100 million before its domestic run is over, and if it does well with the Oscar nominations this week, it might get there pretty fast.

American Hustle grabbed fifth place with $8.30 million over the weekend for a total of $101.27 million after a month of release. With its Golden Globe wins and the upcoming Oscar nominations, the film should remain in the news, and therefore on the box office chart, for a while. Where it goes from here depends a lot on how well it does with the Oscar voters.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug just missed the top five with $8.02 million. After a month of release, the film has $242.23 million domestically and should cross $250 million by this time next week.

August: Osage County was a surprise entrant in the top ten earning seventh place with $7.16 million over the weekend for a total of $7.70 million including its limited release run. Given its reviews, I figured the film would be busted Oscar-bait and not a mainstream hit. However, after this result, it looks like it could expand from its current theater count of 905.

Saving Mr. Banks slipped a spot to eighth with $6.56 million over the weekend for a total of $68.93 million after a month of release. At this pace, by this time next week, it will match original expectations. Also, it is expected to pick up a couple of Oscar nominations, so that should help its legs as well.

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones fell from second to ninth down 66% to $6.28 million over the weekend. This is not a good hold, but it didn't cost a lot to make (likely closer to $5 million than $10 million) and it already has $28.46 million after just ten days of release. It should break even early in its home market run, if not sooner.

Anchorman: The Legend Continues rounded out the top ten with $5.84 million over the weekend for a total of $118.26 million after four weeks of release. This film has now done better than the first film, even if you take into account inflation. On the other hand, it reportedly cost twice as much to make, so it won't be quite as profitable on a percent basis.

Sadly, Her failed to crack the top ten despite its stellar reviews. Granted, I knew the film would be a tough sell to mainstream audiences and the movie did open in only 1,729 theaters, but I thought it would do better than eleventh place with $5.35 million over the weekend for a total of $8.74 million. If it can pick up some major Oscar nominations, it should be able to do well enough to be considered a financial success, if not a true hit.

Finally we get to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which earned 12th place with $4.38 million over the weekend for a total of $413.78 million after 52 days of release. The film has now topped its predecessor domestically, as well as worldwide. It has also topped Iron Man 3 as the biggest hit released in 2013.


- C.S.Strowbridge


Date posted: 2014-01-14