It was another weekend of potently visceral thrillers holding focus with audiences this October. I suppose since there’s a notable lack of horror titles people are scrambling for whatever near-death thrills they can get. At $170 million, Gravity is showing no signs of slowing down in spite being nearly three weeks into release. It could well still be in the box office top 10 by the time its name is called on the morning of Oscar nominations. If Captain Phillips doesn’t have quite as astonishing a staying power, it’s because it tackles nervier socio-political material and is likelier to have controversy-obsessive detractors. It’s still setting a clear course past $90 million on the horizon, a barrier five out of the nine Best Picture nominees last year cleared. Not that it’s a requisite milestone, but it certainly doesn’t hurt in the scheme of an Academy worried ever more about public interest.
Weekend (Sorta) Winner
Is Brian De Palma’s Carrie classic horror or just a cult classic, because I don’t really get the impression of either based on how little people talk about it. That leaves two outcomes for Kimberley Pierce’s remake: It either wows viewers and excuses them from doing their cinematic homework or drives audiences back to the original in hopes of something better. Given the reception, I’m more inclined towards the latter. While not performing dismally by any accounts, its $17 million debut only feels a modest success next to its $30 million budget tag. If it holds up well next weekend, it’s due to a dire fervor for anything remotely in the horror vein.
This is just a hunch, but I don’t think Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger carry much weight with contemporary audiences. Both had their “comeback films” in January, both of which performed pretty dismally. Pooling their star credentials together, Escape Plan was only able to muster $9.8 million upon opening weekend. I suppose in theory they were meant to pull in the exact same audiences who saw their original films, but the number of middle-age to elderly men alive for those films is, to put it slightly morbidly, dwindling away over time. Put simply, they can’t keep going on if they don’t start doing something (*gasp*) new.
This was a pretty desperate maneuver on Disney’s part, pushing a clear indie property into wide release out of fear it would vanish in huff if it opened small. While the move may have payed off in the grand scheme of things, the wikileaks drama’s thoroughly mediocre $1.7 million opening gross shows how botched a situation this film was always going to be. Usually with such a film it debuts at TIFF to gradually build excitement and momentum. The excitement wasn’t there in the first place for this film, so where is there to go? It’s a sad situation.
Box Office Top 10
1. Gravity (3rd Weekend: $31 million; Total: $170.5 million)
2. Captain Phillips (2nd Weekend: $17.3 million; Total: $53.3 million)
3. Carrie (1st Weekend: $17 million)
4. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (4th Weekend: $10.1 million; Total: $93.1 million)
5. Escape Plan (1st Weekend: $9.8 million)
6. Prisoners (5th Weekend: $2.1 million; Total: $57.3 million)
7. Enough Said (5th Weekend: $1.8 million; Total: $10.8 million)
8. The Fifth Estate (1st Weekend: $1.7 million)
9. Runner Runner (3rd Weekend: $1.6 million; Total: $17.5 million)
10. Insidious Chapter 2 (6th Weekend: $1.5 million; Total: $80.9 million)
Limited Release Top 10
The foregone conclusion of this weekend, 12 Years a Slave became a significant hit in the indie market, opening to nearly $1 million across 18 venues. With a per theater average of $50,526, it’s still behind Fruitvale Station, Enough Said and Blue Jasmine for the year’s best. It’s also had the undue promotional tags of “brutal” and “grueling” slapped on it by every critic. “Why should I see a film that’ll just make me feel miserable?” It’s a morally repugnant statement for anybody who’s seen the film and knows how vital it is, but I’ll digress. In any case, the film will nonetheless expand to wider and greater prosperity in the coming weeks/months, so let’s not get up in arms that not everyone can see the film just yet.
As for the rest of the indie market, it was business as usual. Saudi Arabian Oscar entry Wadjda is winningly close to $1 million, a mark it’ll claim with spirit before eventually making waves on the Oscar turf. Shakespeare adaptation Romeo and Juliet also scraped $1 million, but with a miserable PTA of $501 embittering its 461 venue take. Also new this weekend were Kill Your Darlings, the beat generation drama that’s received modest, though not exceptional, reviews since Sundance. Fellow Sundance debut, American Promise, also cracked a small bit of income. Finally scraping out the bottom of the heap is Mother of George, which may well not make its way to even $200,000. It’s a shame, since it’s deeply hued, finely dramatized piece of work.
1. 12 Years a Slave (1st Weekend: $960,000)
2. Romeo and Juliet (2nd Weekend: $231,000; Total: $1 million)
3. Wadjda (6th Weekend: $149,676; Total: $0.8 million)
4. The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete (2nd Weekend: $87,000; Total: $0.4 million)
5. Kill Your Darlings (1st Weekend: $57,772)
6. A.C.O.D. (3rd Weekend: $50,655; Total: $0.1 million)
7. Parkland (3rd Weekend: $32,681; Total: $0.6 million)
8. American Promise (1st Weekend: $18,250)
9. Escape From Tomorrow (2nd Weekend: $17,966; Total: $0.1 million)
10. Mother of George (6th Weekend: $14,000; Total: $0.1 million)