Box Office Top 10 Film Film News

Box Office Decoded: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 Gobbles Up The Competition

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

So, here’s what happened this weekend at the domestic box office: the kids saw Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, the adults saw Prisoners, and despite a massive marketing campaign by Relativity Media Don Jon did about as well as a porn addiction dramedy marketed as a bawdy romantic comedy could be expected to do.   

Let’s break it down:

Top 10 Estimates for the 9/27-9/29 Weekend Box Office (Domestic)

1. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Opening Weekend)


  • Opening Weekend Gross=$35 million
  • Budget=$78 million

Foreign: The studio has yet to release an estimate as to how much the film grossed in Chile, Peru, and Mexico, i.e., the only foreign territories showing the film at the moment.

The $35 million weekend gross is on the low end of the expected $35-40 million weekend total, but still enough to best the opening weekend gross of the first Cloudy with Chance of Meatballs, which opened with $30.3 million in 2009 which adjusts to $33.1 million at 2013 ticket prices.   On top of that, $35 million is enough to qualify Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 as having the fourth best opening weekend for a movie released in September since 1980, the top spot still belonging to the $42 million pulled down by Hotel Transylvania last year.  It should be noted that Meatballs 2 was by a fair margin the widest release of the weekend, playing on over 4000 screens.  However, it still had the best per-screen average ($8,748) of any movie in the top 10.  The original Cloudy ended with a $124 million domestic total ($243 million worldwide), albeit at a higher production budget ($100 million vs. the $78 million for Cloudy 2). As such, if Cloudy 2 keeps on/slightly of pace with the first Cloudy it could end up being far more profitable for Sony.

2. Prisoners


  • Weekend Gross=$11.2 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$38.9 million
  • Budget=$46 million

Foreign: Currently playing in 14 foreign territories, including in the U.K./Ireland where it just opened this weekend.  Total foreign gross to date is $6.3 million for a combined worldwide gross of $45.2 million.

So, Prisoners opened with a respectable $21 million last weekend, but its subject matter and unflinching depiction of violence along with a bloated running time (2 hrs. 26 min.) drew into question how well it could hold.  Now we know – it dropped 46% in its second weekend, at least 6% percentage points lower and in some cases more than 10% percentage points lower than recent dramas released in September by the same studio, Warner Bros. (e.g., Contagion, Trouble with the Curve, The Town).  At this rate, Prisoners is on pace to end with a domestic total gross in the $60-70 million range, which if combined with a similar overseas performance would equate to reaching profitability.  Those hoping for an Argo-like finish of well over $100 million domestic will be disappointed, though.

3. Rush (Opening Weekend)


  • Opening Weekend Gross=$10.3 million
  • Budget=$38 million

Foreign: Currently playing in 28 foreign territories, including the U.K./Ireland where it opened two weeks ago.  Total foreign gross to date is $13.1 million for a combined worldwide gross of $23.6 million.

Technically released last weekend (on a mere 5 screens…for some reason), Rush‘s true opening weekend proved yet again that domestic audiences just simply will not support car racing movies set in the world of professional car racing like Formula 1 or Nascar (we clearly like our cars to be far more fast and furious…or animated by Pixar).  The most famous such examples (Driven with $12.1 million in 2001, Days of Thunder with $15.4 million in 1990) actually enjoyed bigger opening weekends than Rush, and that’s before adjusting for ticket price inflation (e.g., Days of Thunder would have made nearly $30 million at current prices).  However, there’s no way the studio seriously believed Rush had a shot with domestic audiences considering that its true story of two well-known competitive F-1 drivers will resonate most with European audiences, where it is currently also playing and not exactly setting the world on fire.  The bright side, though, is that Rush‘s per-screen average ($4,588) was second best among all films in the top 10, and a solid CinemaScore (A-) along with surprisingly strong reviews (88% on RottenTomatoes) indicates potential for positive word-of-mouth.  Let’s see how well it holds next weekend before completely writing it off, although it will likely struggle to even make back its $38 million production budget in total domestic gross.

4. Baggage Claim (Opening Weekend)


  • Opening Weekend Gross=$9.3 million
  • Budget=N/A

Foreign: Not currently playing in any foreign territories.

Despite the many jokes that argue otherwise, there are actually a handful of non-Tyler-Perry-produced films released every year that are targeted at African American audiences.  These tend to be lower budget affairs starring almost entirely African American actors, sometimes actors mainstream audiences would know, sometimes not.  They kind of come and go rather quickly at the box office, with very low expectations.  Baggage Claim is the latest such example, and its $9.3 million opening is way behind the colossal success of last year’s Think Like a Man ($33.6 million opening weekend) as well as the more modest opening of 2011’s Jumping the Broom ($15.1 million).  However, it is at least ahead of 2010’s Just Wright ($8.3 million) and Our Family Wedding ($7.6 million).  Based on those examples, Baggage Claim is likely to end up with a total domestic gross in the $20-30 million territory, which is a fine total considering the expected minimal marketing and production budget for the film.

5. Don Jon (Opening Weekend)


  • Opening Weekend Gross=$9 million
  • Budget=$6 million

Foreign: Also opened in Russia, China, Iceland, and Taiwan, although Relativity Media has not yet announced an estimate of box office performance in those territories.

Remember that in addition to its $6 million production budget the independently produced Don Jon is thought to have cost its distributor, Relativity Media, $4 million to pick up in a bidding war at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.  Even though its subject matter (i.e., porn addiction) and eventual hard R-rating presented marketing challenges, Relativity must have thought they were hitching their wagon to a rising star like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, making his directorial and writing debut in addition to starring in the film.  On the high end, Gordon-Levitt’s Looper opened with over $20 million last year on the way to a $68 million total domestic gross, and on the low end Gordon-Levitt’s 50/50 and (500) Days of Summer managed final domestic totals above $30 million on minimal budgets.  So, based on his past performance Relativity seemed set to at least easily recoup their investment.  The $9 million opening is actually better than that of 50/50 ($8.6 million).  However, Relativity likely shot themselves in the foot by utilizing misleading marketing which completely misrepresents Don Jon as being about a goofy womanizer who finally meets his match when in fact it is about a womanizer addicted to online pornography.  Now that the secret is out and audiences responded angrily with a C+ CinemaScore, indicating weak word-of-mouth, even with almost no competition from other ostensible romantic comedies Don Jon seems set for significant drop-offs in subsequent weeks whereas 50/50 and Days of Summer were word-of-mouth hits.

6. Insidious: Chapter 2

Insidious 2 trailer (Screengrab)

  • Weekend Gross=$6.7 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$69.5 million
  • Budget=$5 million

Foreign: $9.2 million foreign gross total from 5 foreign territories and a combined worldwide gross total of $78.8 million.

It’s shedding its audience, dropping over 50% in its third weekend after dropping nearly 66% last weekend.  After a domestic opening of over $40 million it is going to fall far short of $100 million, and unlike the first Insidious is another classic case of a horror film carried by a big opening weekend.  This became a hit because people liked the first Insidious was well-liked (and easily available to stream through Netflix Instant), and now because Chapter 2 has made so much money they are discussing a sequel.  However, it certainly seems as if Chapter 2 is not particularly well-liked by audiences thus diminishing the fervor for a Chapter 3.  Then again, with these micro-budgets all they need is a good enough opening weekend, and then it’s on to Chapter 4.

7. The Family


  • Weekend Gross=$3.6 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$31.9 million
  • Budget=$30 million

Foreign: $3.9 million in total foreign gross from 7 different territories (mostly Russia) for a combined worldwide gross total of $35.8 million.

It dropped 50% last weekend and 48% this weekend, making enough in the process to be director Luc Besson’s highest domestic grossing film since The Fifth Element scored $63 million in 1997.  However, these days Besson is primarily known as a producer, most notably for the Taken and Transporter franchises, whose films tend to make their real money at the foreign markets.  At the moment, The Family is still slowly being released in those markets meaning we won’t know for a while if Besson is again able to work his market.

8. Instructions Not Included


  • Weekend Gross=$3.3 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$38.5 million
  • Budget=N/A

Foreign:  $11.5 million in foreign gross from Mexico, its only other territory, for a combined worldwide gross total of $50.1 million.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Instructions Not Included has now grossed enough in just 31 days to become the top-grossing Spanish language film of all time at the domestic box office, besting Pans Labyrinth‘s $37.6 million.  It’s also now the fourth-highest domestic grossing foreign language film. That’s great.  Of course, Pans Labyrinth‘s ticket price-adjusted domestic gross comes out to $44.3, and Instructions Not Included actually only qualifies as #9 on the list of foreign language films after adjusting for ticket price inflation.  So, there’s also that.

9. We’re the Millers

Aniston Millers Strip Tease

  • Weekend Gross=$2.8 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$142.4 million
  • Budget=$37 million

Foreign: $10.9 million in foreign gross this past week for a new foreign gross total of $95.4 million from 43 foreign territories and a combined worldwide gross total of $237.8 million.

We’re the Millers is now a bigger hit than 40-Year-Old Virgin.  No, seriously.  We’re the Millers is a bigger hit than 40-Year-Old Virgin.  Wow!  Granted, the only reason you would compare the movies at all is because they are both R-rated comedies that came out in August, but, still, it’s a startling turn of events.  In fact, We’re the Millers is the highest-grossing R-rated comedy released in August of all time, with only Superbad able to make the “yeah, but we made more after you adjust for inflation” (which equates to $144 million) argument.

10. Lee Daniels’ The Butler


  • Weekend Gross=$2.4 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$110.2 million
  • Budget=$30 million

Foreign: $3 million foreign gross this past week for a new total foreign gross of $6.1 million and combined worldwide gross of $116.4 million.

That’ll do, Butler.  That’ll do.  You are no The Help ($169 total domestic gross in 2011), but you weren’t even supposed to get near $100 million.  So, good on you.


What Left the Top 10?

Battle of the Year dropped out of the top 10 in just its second weekend, standing at $7.4 total domestic gross on a $20 million budget.  Riddick, Planes, and The Wizard of Oz 3D all also left the top 10, with Riddick continuing to play better overseas than domestically.     

What’s Up Next?: 

The Sandra Bullock/George Clooney 3D experience Gravity and Justin Timberlake/Ben Affleck film Runner Runner both open nationwide on Friday (10/4), and after a week in limited release Metallica Through the Never expands wide on the same day.

Jeez, enough with the numbers already.

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