Box Office Top 10 Film Film News

Box Office Decoded: The Butler Opens Strong, Kick-Ass 2 Not So Much & Paranoia=Harrison Ford’s Worst Ever Opening

To see older or more recent box office top 10 breakdowns please go here.

UPDATE: 8/20/2013 – The original box office estimates from the studios have been updated to reflect the actual grosses, a change which means The Butler and Kick-Ass 2 both made slightly less than thought while everything else made slightly more.  As a result, Kick-Ass ended up at #5 on the list, not #4.  Plus, 2 Guns has been updated to reflect its foreign box office results. 

So, here’s what happened this weekend at the domestic box office: The Butler did The Help-style business, We’re the Millers actually held stronger than most recent comedies, Elysium continued its run of okay-to-disappointing business, and Kick-Ass 2 and Jobs kind of bombed but not in the way that Paranoia reminded us that sometimes films can bomb so hard in wide release that they don’t even finish in the box office Top 10.    

Top 10 for the 8/16-8/18 Weekend Box Office (Domestic)



1. Lee Daniels’ The Butler (Opened This Weekend)
  • Opening Weekend Gross=$24.6 million
  • Budget=$30 million

Foreign: Only opened domestically; no foreign gross yet.

In a weekend of four new wide releases, the competition ended up not being remotely close, with The Butler easily ending as the highest grossing film of the weekend.  With $24.6 million, it has almost equaled its $30 million production budget meaning it will end up being a very profitable film for the Weinstein Company especially given its “A” grade on CinemaScore indicating decent-to-strong word of mouth.

The Butler performed basically identically to the similarly-themed and marketed The Help, which grossed $26 million its opening weekend.  The last film targeted almost exclusively to African American audiences  that performed as well would be last year’s Tyler Perry Presents Madea’s Witness Protection, which pulled down $25 million its opening weekend.  This is easily director Lee Daneils’ biggest opening; his last film, The Paperboy, was a bomb even for art-house fare and Precious took 19 weeks to get above $40 million whereas The Butler will likely do so in just 2 weeks.  

2. We’re the Millers

We're the Millers Haan Aniston

  • Weekend Gross=$17.9 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$69.7 million
  • Budget=$37 million

Foreign: After its exclusive domestic debut last weekend, We’re the Millers expanded into 13 foreign markets and earned $10.6 million for a combined worldwide gross to date of $80.3 million.

We reviewed it and deemed it the “kind of okay film of the summer,” but it continues to do pretty damn strong business, holding on to the #2 spot in the Top 10 for the second week in a row.  It’s week-to-week drop of only 32.7% is actually better than 2010’s Horrible Bosses (from the same studio, two of the same actors), which dropped 37.2% in its second weekend.  It’s actually even a better second week hold than the other hit comedies of the summer, The Heat (36.7% drop off) and Grown Ups 2 (52.1% drop off).  It seems likely to continue performing well in the following weeks, with a likely final domestic total of over $100 million.

3. Elysium


  • Weekend Gross=$13.6 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$56 million
  • Budget=$115 million

Foreign: After expanding into multiple major foreign markets, Elysium added $26.8 million in foreign gross this past week for a new foreign gross total of $37.7 million and combined worldwide gross total of $93.7 million.

So, how much did it end up dropping off in its second domestic weekend? Around 54%, which is only slightly worse than what Oblivion and District 9, the films to which Elysium will most often be compared, did in their second weekends.  However, it was the highest grossing film at the combined foreign markets this weekend meaning though it will fail to reach $100 million domestically it’s off to a good start overseas.

4. Planes


  • Weekend Gross=$13.38 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$45.3 million
  • Budget=$50 million

Foreign:  After its exclusive domestic debut last weekend, Planes expanded into 9 foreign markets and earned $7.3 million for a combined worldwide gross to date of $52.6 million.

Planes is a spin-off of the Cars franchise that is not doing anywhere near Cars-level business in terms of dollars and cents.  However, it actually held better in its second weekend, percentage wise, than either of the Cars films did in their respective second weekends.  Planes dropped 40% vs. 60.3% for Cars 2 vs. 43.9% for Cars.  So, that’s at least something about which they can be proud.  Well, in general, really it’s not doing great nor is it doing bad.  It’s really doing Turbo-level business while costing nearly $100 million less to make thus making its target line for profitability much lower.  It should be interesting to see how it plays overseas as it continues expanding into larger foreign territories.

5. Kick-Ass 2  (Opened This Weekend)


  • Opening Weekend Gross=$13.32 million
  • Budget=$28 million

Foreign: $6.3 million in foreign gross its opening weekend for combined worldwide gross to date of $19.52 million.

The first Kick-Ass was released to a sea of controversy surrounding its surprisingly adult treatment of Hit-Girl, a butt-kicking, foul-mouthed vigilante crime fighter who happens to be 11-years-old.  For some, seeing Chloe Grace Moretz killing people, getting bloodied and bruised, and, worst of all, daring to utter the word “cunt…inuing source of inspiration” was just too much to bear.  Perhaps as a result or in spite of this controversy, the film became a minor hit at $96.1 million worldwide on a $30 million budget.

That was enough to get a sequel, but just barely and without its original director, Matthew Vaughn.  Unfortunately, the “co-star Jim Carrey disowning the film” and critics calling it disgustingly misogynistic controversy surrounding the sequel did not translate to big business, but instead an incredibly soft $13.32 million in comparison to the original $19.8 million opening for the original Kick-Ass.  This one was easy to see coming–almost nothing about the way the film was marketed indicated the studio (Universal) had any faith in it, much as was the case earlier this summer with R.I.P.D. which also bombed with $12.7 million its opening weekend.

6. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters


  • Weekend Gross=$8.7 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$39.2 million
  • Budget=$90 million

Foreign: $26.5 million in foreign gross this past week for a new foreign gross total of $36.2 million and combined worldwide gross total of $75.4 million.

At last, there is something about Sea of Monsters‘s box office performance which is better than its predecessor’s, The Lightning Thief: it only dropped 44% in its second weekend whereas Lightning dropped over 50%.  Granted, not much of a victory, but a victory nonetheless.  After 12 days, the original Percy Jackson (he of the Lightning Thief variety) had made $60.1 million domestic; it’s sequel is only at $39.2 million after its first 12 days.  By process of simple math, that’s very clearly not as good.  In fact, you might even be tempted to call it flat out bad.  Well…you’d be both wrong and right to do so.  They are mostly targeted the overseas market where it is doing fairly well and currently projects to end up equaling  the $137 million foreign gross of Lightning Thief from 2010.

7. Jobs (Opened This Weekend)


  • Opening Weekend Gross=$6.7 million
  • Budget=$12 million

Foreign: Only opened domestically; no foreign gross yet.

Screw Ashton Kutcher, right?  He doesn’t get to be with Demi Moore, cheat on her (allegedly), back his way into a million-dollar-per-episode payday on Two & A Half Men, and also be a bankable movie star.  There has to be some sense of balance, and the universe apparently agrees.  Therefore,  it is with utter delight for some to see that Jobs, the Steve Jobs biopic he clearly rushed to the market to beat competing projects, bombed with a meager $6.7 million.  Ha-ha!  Suck it…wait, it only cost $12 million to make?  Yeaaaahhh, this is a pretty bad opening, the worst of Kutcher’s career for a film to have opened on more than 1,000 screens, and currently projects for a final domestic gross that would be among the lowest of Kutcher’s career.  However, it also made over half of its budget already.  Granted, some thought it could come closer to The Social Network’s $22.5 million 2010 opening, but that movie had an ingenious marketing campaign whereas Jobs was mostly sold as, “Look at how much our film looks like The Social Network.”  

8. 2 Guns


  • Weekend Gross=$5.8 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$59.8 million
  • Budget=$61 million

Foreign: It just opened in the UK and Ireland with expansions into markets like Russia, China, Brazil, and France in subsequent weeks.  According to, it’s international gross at the moment is $61 million for a combined worldwide gross of $120.8 million.

2 Guns steadied somewhat, falling off by only 50% this weekend after having dropped 59% its last weekend.  That recovery guaranteed that it will exceed its production budget with its final domestic gross, currently only a couple million short of doing so.  Overseas, it is doing fairly well with a combined worldwide gross to date that is double its production budget, thus indicating it has now become a profitable film for the studio. However, domestically it will still end up being Denzel Washington’s weakest performing film since either 2006’s Deja Vu ($64 million domestic) or 2009’s The Taking of Prehelm 1,2,3 ($65.5 million domestic).

9. Smurfs 2


  • Weekend Gross=$4.7 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$57 million
  • Budget=$105 million

Foreign: $20 million in foreign gross this weekend for a total foreign gross to date of $150 million and combined worldwide gross to date of $206.9 million.

Yep, that’s right, when you weren’t looking Smurfs 2 somehow raced to a worldwide gross of over $200 million in just 3 weeks.  The foreign market amounts for almost 73% of the worldwide gross, a split guaranteed to only grow wider as the film continues killing it overseas and magically disappearing domestically.  However, percentage rise that’s right on par with the original Smurfs, which owes 74% of its $563 million worldwide gross to the foreign market.  Smurfs 2 is going to come absolutely nowhere near the $142 million the first film grossed domestically, but will it be able to match the $421.1 million foreign gross?  Let me think about that for a sec….no.  However, considering the cool $150 million the studio made through product placement and tie-in deals Smurfs 2 is actually a huge mother-smurfing hit for them.

10. The Wolverine

"Let's see if we can maneuver through the spectacle and find the substance. I hope there's some somewhere."

  • Weekend Gross=$4.5 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$120.5 million
  • Budget=$120 million

Foreign: $20.1 million in foreign gross this past week for a new foreign gross total of $214.9 million and combined total worldwide gross  of $335.3 million.

Well, at the very least The Wolverine finally stopped the bleeding at the domestic box office, only falling off 44% this weekend after dropping 62% and 59% the past two weekends.  However, The Wolverine is just the latest in domestic vs. foreign market head scratchers this summer.  It will end up being  both the lowest domestic grossing and highest foreign grossing X-Men film in franchise history.  Overseas, its current total of $214.9 million is second only to X-Men: The Last Stand‘s $224.9 million, which it will likely overtake by next weekend.

*13. Paranoia (Opened This Weekend)
paranoia header
  • Opening Weekend Gross=$3.5 million
  • Budget=$35 million

Foreign: Only opened domestically; no foreign gross to report.

*Even though it finished outside the Top 10, Paranoia is being included here because it’s dysmal performance demands discussion.

Holy shit.  Paranoia looked bad, instantly became one of the worst-reviewed films of the calender year (it has a 4% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes!), and was just absolutely dumped into the marketplace by a studio who didn’t even care enough to give the promotion a half-hearted effort.  However, to bomb at the level of only making $3.5 million after having cost $35 million to make?  Wow.  Here’s, maybe, the most surprising part of all of this.  This is actually not the worst opening weekend gross in Harrison Ford’s career.  In non-adjusted dollars, the worst opening of his career among any of his films that opened on more than 1,000 screens is none other than Star Wars IV: A New Hope (or just, as they knew it back then, Star Wars), which grossed $1.5 million back in May of 1977.  Of course, after you adjust for ticket price inflation that actually comes out to roughly $5.4 million meaning that Paranoia is officially the worst opening in Harrison Ford’s career.  One would guess Liam Hemsworth’s bid for film stardom outside of Hunger Games just took a huge hit.


What Left the Top 10?

Two of the biggest success stories of the summer, The Conjuring and Despicable Me 2, fell out of the top 10 for the first time, specifically to #’s 11 and 12 while earning $3.9 million and $3.7 million respectively.  As a point of comparison for The Conjuring, among the similarly-themed and micro-budgeted recent horror films to which it has been compared (The Purge, Mama, The Devil Inside, The Last Exorcism, The Haunting in Connecticut, and The Exorcism of Emily Rose) only this year’s Mama and 2005’s The Exorcism of Emily Rose were able to stay in the top 10 for as long as The Conjuring, i.e., 4 weeks.

Grown Ups 2 fell from #10 to #15, pulling in $1.75 million for a new domestic total of $127.4 million, short of the $162 domestic total for the first Grown Ups but still more than some Sandler naysayers had hoped.  Turbo, already out of the top 10 at #11 last week, fell ever further, down to #16 with $1 million to up its domestic total to $77.6 million for a worldwide total of $144 million on a $135 million budget.  I previously wrote that it would end up doing alright for itself due to a boost from foreign sales; oops, it’s looking like I was wrong.  The home video market is probably its real chance for salvation now.

What’s Up Next?: 

There are three movies opening wide and one in limited release.  The latest YA-novel adaptation/Twilight-cash grab, The Mortal Instruments, opens on Wednesday (8/22).  The Cornetto trilogy comes to an end when Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s apocalypse comedy The World’s End opens on Friday (8/24) as does the particularly nasty looking Lionsgate horror film You’re Next.  Opening on a mere 7 screens is the The Grandmaster, the Weinstein Company’s kind of awesome looking distribution of a Chinese film which has already raked in $55 million in foreign sales.  Woody Allen’s largely adored new film Blue Jasmine, which has earned nearly $10 million in limited release, finally expands nationwide on Friday.

Oy, enough with the numbers already.


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