//BOX OFFICE: ‘Ender’s Game’ Has a Gentle Victory

BOX OFFICE: ‘Ender’s Game’ Has a Gentle Victory

Ender's Game

Alex has just welcomed us bracingly into November. I say “bracingly” because it’s not nearly as bountiful an offering of cinematic riches as October was. Amongst the most significant box office developments we’ll be seeing this month are holdovers from last month, as 12 Years a Slave is gradually making an impression with viewers. Its slow expansion into nationwide release is proving quite beneficial for Fox Searchlight, the film now having a firm standing on the top 10 charts and still rising at $8.8 million. I’d also expect to see more of All Is Lost and Blue Is the Warmest Color in the coming weeks, both having hit it off big with limited release audiences.

Slowly cycling out is Gravity, October’s whirlwind success that’s climbing toward $250 million, possibly even to $300 million in the long term. Facing the loss of many of its IMAX screens and competing space adventure Ender’s Game, the film’s still holding its ground quite well. I wouldn’t be surprised if Warner Bros. brought it back around for a re-expansion closer to Oscar. In the meantime, we’ve still got a month packed with mainstream offerings ahead of us, though admittedly very little else.

Weekend Winners

Ender's GameEnder’s Game takes #1 in spite boycott

It was always going to be an easy victory for Ender’s Game, but I expect it could’ve fared a lot worse than its $28 million opening. It may be $2 million shy of John Carter, but that flop-buster comparison actually doesn’t seem apt in this instance. John Carter faced its own marketing woes, but it wasn’t facing a source material based boycott. A better comparison would be The Golden Compass, which opened to mediocre reviews and heavy religious controversy to debut with $25.8 million, eventually finishing with $70.1 million. Ender’s Game opened as its boycott was settling down in fervor and reviews were coming across more positively than expected, so I wouldn’t be totally surprised if it held on well in these coming weeks, as well it should. To my eyes it’s another healthy sample of what has actually been an above average year for studio releases.

Weekend Losers

Free BirdsFree Birds better savor its short life before Thanksgiving

Okay, $16+ million isn’t exactly a failure for either of this weekend’s modestly budgeted “losers”, but I get the impression we won’t be remembering about either beyond their time in the box office top 10. This Thanksgiving themed animation in particular doesn’t seem to have happy times ahead of it. Opening to miserable reviews and only a few drops of seasonal topicality, it may still do well in spite its merely fine opening gross. The run-up to Thanksgiving has no other animated offerings until Frozen crops up the day before the holiday weekend begins. Free Birds could well make back its $55 million budget, but will it have any resonance outside this season? If we’re looking for animated Oscar candidates, I should say certainly not.

Last VegasLast Vegas Gets Some, but Gives Little

Not met quite as dreadfully as Free Birds, but that’s a minor compliment for Last Vegas, a comedy that plays overtly and intentionally like The Hangover with old geezers, or the Expendables of bachelor comedies. Neither flatters the latest film from National Treasure director Jon Turtelaub, who’s made a career out of making films where the protagonists antics aren’t as amusing as they might think. Costing $28 million, it’s much more modestly budgeted than his last film, The Sorceror’s Apprentice (at an embarrassing $150 million), so success is safely assured, but what does success do if the film offers nothing significant or fresh to viewers?

Box Office Top 10 – November 1-3, 2013

1. Ender’s Game (1st Weekend: $28 million)
2. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (2nd Weekend: $20.5 million; Total: $62.1 million)
3. Last Vegas (1st Weekend: $16.5 million)
4. Free Birds (1st Weekend: $16.2 million)
5. Gravity (5th Weekend: $13.1 million; Total: $219.2 million)
6. Captain Phillips (4th Weekend: $8.5 million; Total: $82.6 million)
7. 12 Years a Slave (3rd Weekend: $4.6 million; Total: $8.8 million)
8. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (6th Weekend: $4.2 million; Total: $106.2 million)
9. Carrie (3rd Weekend: $3.4 million; Total: $32 million)
10. The Counselor (2nd Weekend: $3.3 million; Total: $13.6 million)

Limited Release Top 10

Dallas Buyers ClubThe studio estimates once again make this top 10 somewhat infuriating, if only because we don’t get to hear how well All Is Lost or Blue Is the Warmest Color are doing. I assume well in both cases, since the latter opened to $100,000 on 4 screens last weekend and the former has gathered $1.5 million by this point, so both are performing rather incredibly. However they’re both outshined this weekend by Dallas Buyers Club, the last film released by Focus Features, which is a sad loss, though they’ve had a strong final year with The Place Beyond the Pines and We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks as their other primary players. If quality is the standard of a successful distributor, as it should be, they’ve been doing very little wrong.

In terms of this week’s other indie standouts, it’s no surprise Wadjda is still chugging along rather well. I’d be shocked if that girl isn’t in the Foreign Language hunt by the end of the season. Another notable release, though in a far less favorable light than Dallas Buyers Club, is Diana, the notoriously noxious account of Princess Diana’s private life that’s been ravaged by reviews, though by all accounts it has only itself to blame for that ravaging.

1. Dallas Buyers Club (1st Weekend: $264,128)
2. Wadjda (9th Weekend: $99,153; Total: $1.1 million)
3. Kill Your Darlings (3rd Weekend: $72,648; Total: $0.2 million)
4. Diana (1st Weekend: $65,000)
5. American Promise (3rd Weekend: $15,370; Total: $60,479)
6. Capital (2nd Weekend: $41,224; Total: $71,311)
7. The Square (2nd Weekend: $12,025; Total: $32,719)
8. Spinning Plates (2nd Weekend: $10,810; Total: $38,434)
9. The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology (1st Weekend: $9,500)
10. These Birds Walk (1st Weekend: $8,000)

What did you see in theaters this weekend?

Born in California, resident in New Hampshire, Lena is film studies graduate with a intense passion for queer cinema, stop-motion animation and all things Greta Gerwig. Full Bio.