“You cooperate. You don’t question. You don’t argue. You don’t look at your watch. You just do the work you’re told to do and keep your personal opinion where it belongs.” Oh, I’m sorry. It’s just sometimes doing the box office numbers makes me feel like Toby Jones in Berberian Sound Studio, trapped in a nightmarish production with no hope of escape.
None of these feelings, I should point out, are pointed necessarily at Thor: The Dark World. That film’s success is expected and assured. My displeasure is in the films directly behind it in the box office chain, Free Birds, Last Vegas and Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. Perhaps I should’ve been better prepared for those endure through the holiday stretches, but there isn’t even a worthwhile excuse for seeking out mediocre fare. In a market still populated with Gravity, Captain Phillips, and the newly expanded 12 Years a Slave, I suppose audiences are maybe just looking for a little levity.
I’d be fine with that if there was any worthwhile light entertainment in theaters, but the closest thing in the mainstream vein is Ender’s Game, which is currently saddled with preconceived opinions and its own weightier issues to tackle. I suppose there’s still reason to take comfort in the rest of the year, where Frozen, American Hustle, Saving Mr. Banks and Anchorman: The Legend Continues approach to hopefully offer a more rewarding brand of whimsy and hilarity. Until then, Dark World indeed.
The colossal success of The Avengers only quantified the brand value Marvel carries with it, at least for its preexisting properties. That’s a particularly good thing for Thor and Captain America, two franchises that didn’t do quite the lively business of the Downey Jr. fueled Iron Man films. We shouldn’t expect The Dark World to suddenly match the $170+ million debut Iron Man 3 hauled in, but its ratio of improvement is similar. Where Iron Man 3 opened 35% above its predecessor, Thor‘s debut got boosted 31% above the first film. Where should Thor: The Dark World end, then? If it follows the exact same trajectory as the first film, $237 million, but I’ll wager it packs on a few extra pound and finishes at $265 million domestically. The overseas haul, however, could eventually pull it over the $1 billion mark. It’d be a long haul, but movies be breaking that barrier up and down these days.
Another example of audiences seeking levity wherever they can get it, though I can’t quite call this a winner exactly. It’s certainly not a winner to the same standard Thor: The Dark World is, but it managed a higher per theater average than any non-superhero film in the top 10, so it’s not a major tanker. That said, would it have done so well if just released immediately in wide? I don’t think so, and evidently neither did Universal. Expect this vanilla rom-fantasy to coast in past $15 million, but not much higher.
Well this is unfortunate, though we can’t quite blame Ender’s Game’s sudden drop on negative audience reactions. Any film of similar sci-fantasy action sentiment is going to shrivel up against the weight of Marvel and their fans’ habitual geek-lust. Unfortunately the fanbase for X-Men Origins: Wolverine director Gavid Hood and ill-politicized Orson Scott Card are not particularly formidable against any contender. The film’s only defense is itself, and those turned off by its CG-chintz or unmotivating marketing could be excused for not taking a chance on it. For my money it’s an unexpected blockbuster standout of the fall season, with Hood’s zip-bang video game aesthetic eye being mindfully dialed though a humanist, morally questioning outlook on militarism and warfare. If my suggestion counts for anything, it still won’t be enough to earn the film back its budget. If only in monetary terms, the game’s pretty much lost at this point.
Box Office Top 10 – November 10, 2013
1. Thor: The Dark World (1st Weekend: $86.1 million)
2. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (3rd Weekend: $11.3 million; Total: $78.7 million)
3. Free Birds (2nd Weekend: $11.2 million; Total: $30.2 million)
4. Last Vegas (2nd Weekend: $11.1 million; Total: $33.5 million)
5. Ender’s Game (2nd Weekend: $10.3 million; Total: $44 million)
6. Gravity (6th Weekend: $8.4 million; Total: $231.1 million)
7. 12 Years a Slave (4th Weekend: $6.6 million; Total: $17.3 million)
8. Captain Phillips (5th Weekend: $5.8 million; Total: $90.9 million)
9. About Time (2nd Weekend: $5.2 million; Total: $6.7 million)
10. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (7th Weekend: $2.8 million; Total: $110 million)
Limited Release Top 10
Another week of Dallas Buyers Club in front position, but at least we have numbers in for Blue Is the Warmest Color, which is doing not bad at all given its length and growing notoriety. The heavyweight of the indie bracket won’t be here for long, as its expansion next week should bar us from talking about The Book Thief in this space much longer. The film rallied up $108,000 on 4 screens, which is not all that bad, though I should question whether this film is getting any traction in terms of awards, because I’m not hearing any. So much for the Academy’s Holocaust fancy.
1. Dallas Buyers Club (2nd Weekend: $629,038; Total: $1 million)
2. Blue Is the Warmest Color (3rd Weekend: $254,000; Total: $0.8 million)
3. The Book Thief (1st Weekend: $108,000)
4. Kill Your Darlings (4th Weekend: $87,000; Total: $0.3 million)
5. Wadjda (9th Weekend: $52,975; Total: $1.2 million)
6. The Armstrong Lie (1st Weekend: $30,904)
7. American Promise (3rd Weekend: $9,325; Total: $0.1 million)
8. Go for Sisters (1st Weekend: $8,000)
9. The Square (3rd Weekend: $6,644; Total: $47,054)
10. At Berkeley (1st Weekend: $6,075)