December 10th, 2013
It's a good week / bad week when it comes to new releases. On the positive side, there are a couple big first run releases, a couple big TV on DVD releases, and even a classic film hitting Blu-ray for the first time. On the other hand, the depth is really bad. If you look at Amazon.com's list of best selling new releases, you will find filler on the second page. That's not to say there are no contenders for Pick of the Week. Despicable Me 2 is the best selling release and the Blu-ray Combo Pack or 3D Combo Pack are also among the best, as is Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray. There are also a few more contenders where I'm waiting for a screener (Berberian Sound Studio, The Hunt, etc.). and it is a busy week for top notch releases. In the end, I went with Despicable Me 2 for that honor, but it was a real coin toss.
October 1st, 2013
It wasn't a great weekend at the box office, as four of the five films in the top five missed expectations. On the other hand, no film in the top five really bombed, so it wasn't a bad weekend either. It was solidly mediocre. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 opened in top spot with just over $34 million. This was better than its predecessor opened with, but below the lofty expectations. Overall, the box office pulled in $109 million over the weekend, which was 26% higher than last weekend. On the other hand, it was 9% lower than the same weekend last year. Year-to-date, 2013 still has a lead over 2012, but it has shrunk a little bit over the past two weeks. After this weekend, the lead was down to 1.2%, or $7.90 billion to $7.81 billion. It's not reason to panic, yet, but an extended losing streak late in the year is harder to recover from than one that happens in spring.
September 24th, 2013
The top five at the box office lived up to expectations, more or less. Prisoners were on the high end of expectations, while Battle of the Year opened on the low end. Some holdovers, like Insidious Chapter 2, sank faster than expected, while Instructions Not Included defied all logic and returned to the top five. Overall, the box office fell 16% to $87 million. This was 4% lower than last year, ending 2013's impressive winning streak. Year-to-date, 2013 is still ahead of 2013 by just over $100 million at $7.77 billion to $7.66 billion.
September 22nd, 2013
Ever since Argo won the Oscar for Best Picture, the industry has been talking and thinking about the strategy of releasing a film ahead of all the other award hopefuls and building buzz through the season. The first test of this theory comes this weekend with one wide release and one platform release. The wide release, Prisoners, will comfortably top the chart with a very respectable $21.4 million from 3,260 theaters. While hardly in record-setting territory, it is very close to Argo's $19.5 million from 3,232 venues. Audience responses have been good (with 90% audience positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, for example), but next week's drop will be a big indicator of whether the film will have the chops for an awards run: Argo declined just 15% in its second weekend. Prisoners will need to do something similar before there's real talk of nominations to come.
September 20th, 2013
There might be a close race at the box office this weekend. The buzz surrounding Prisoners is growing enough that it should earn first place, but Insidious Chapter 2 might hold on well enough to challenge the newcomer for top spot. The other new release for the week is Battle of the Year, which is opening in fewer theaters than I thought it would and with much worse reviews. It likely won't be a factor. In fact, there's a slim chance that the 3-D re-release of The Wizard of Oz will earn more this weekend than Battle of the Year will. The best new releases from this week last year was End of Watch, which only managed $13.15 million. This is close to what it cost to make, but it is low for a number one film. On the other hand, last year had much better depth than this year will have, so 2013's winning streak might come to an end.
September 13th, 2013
While there is only one truly wide release coming out next weekend, Prisoners, we've accidentally double-booked prizes for the week. (Battle of the Year is also opening, but in under 2,000 theaters.) Because it is the only film opening truly wide, it is the only choice for the target film for this week's box office prediction contest. In order to win, one must simply predict the opening weekend box office number for Prisoners.
Whoever comes the closest to predicting the film's opening 3-day weekend box office (Friday to Sunday), without going over, will win a both Homeland: Season Two on Blu-ray and Slightly Single in L.A. on Blu-ray.
Meanwhile, whoever comes the closest to predicting the film's opening 3-day weekend box office (Friday to Sunday), without going under, will also win a copy of Homeland: Season Two on Blu-ray and Slightly Single in L.A. on Blu-ray.
Entries must be received by 10 a.m., Pacific Time on Friday to be eligible, so don't delay!
September 1st, 2013
August ended, and we should be very grateful for that. Lee Daniels' The Butler was a surprise hit, while We're the Millers did better than expected. However, most other films that were expected to be solid hits failed to live up to expectations. Fortunately, August of 2012 was even worse, so 2013 regained the lead on the year-to-year comparison during the month. Looking forward, there is exactly one film that will likely become more than a midlevel hit in September: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. That film has a chance to reach $100 million in total. Most of the rest of the new releases will be lucky if they get halfway there. Fortunately, September of 2012 was even worse. Hotel Transylvania was a surprise hit, earning nearly $150 million, and there were a few others that topped $50 million, but there were also several outright bombs. If we can avoid those types of bombs, then 2013 should continue its winning streak.