Box Office Top 10 Film Film News

Box Office Decoded: Gravity=Amazing, Captain Phillips=Good, Machete Kills=Bomb

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: Gravity had one of the best non-Holiday second week holds in history, Captain Phillips is among star Tom Hanks’ biggest openings in a decade, and Machete Kills proved stunt-casting can only get you so far (thank God the budget was probably pretty reasonable).

Let’s break it down:

Top 10 Estimates for the 10/11-10/13 Weekend Box Office (Domestic)

1. Gravity 


  • Weekend Gross=$44.2million
  • Total Gross to Date=$123.4 million
  • Budget=$100 million

Foreign: $28 million from 38 foreign territories this weekend for a new total foreign gross of $68 million for a  worldwide total of $191.4 million.

In its second weekend, Gravity only dipped 21%, the best non-Holiday second week hold for a movie to have opened with more than $50 million.  There are so many qualifiers in that record that it is rendered pretty much meaningless.  So, let’s just say that it’s ridiculously rare for a movie to open this big and drop off this little.  Moreover, the $9 million of its weekend gross from IMAX is the second-highest showing for the second weekend of a film playing at IMAX theaters.  This is not a fair comparison since there are so many more IMAX theaters than there used to be, though.  Maybe more impressive (and a sure sign that Warner Bros.’ marketing did its job) is that the share of weekend gross attributable to 3D ticket sales actually increased to 82% from last weekend’s already-impressive 80%.  So, basically, this movie is just a huge bomb, right?

2. Captain Phillips (Opening Weekend)


  • Opening Weekend Gross=$26 million
  • Budget=$55 million

Foreign: Opened in 9 overseas territories, including Hong Kong.  There is no estimate as to performance in those territories at the time of this writing.

I guess you can’t count out Tom Hanks just yet who had been on a real box office cold streak after Cloud Atlas, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, and Larry Crowne.  In fact, if you take away his Ron Howard-directed Dan Brown novel adaptations (The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons) Hanks hasn’t had a live action movie open with more than $20 million since Catch Me If You Can debuted with $30 million in 2003.  Clearly, Sony’s aggressive “this is a big, important movie that also happens to be crazily entertaining ala the Bourne franchise” marketing and strong film festival word-of-mouth did the trick, not to mention last Saturday’s limited preview screenings.

3. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2


  • Weekend Gross=$14.2 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$78 million
  • Budget=$78 million

Foreign: $9.1 million from 12 territories (most notably Mexico and Brazil) this weekend for a new total foreign gross of $21.4 million and worldwide gross of $99.4 million.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 has made only a million or so less in its first 17 days than the first Cloudy did in the same number of days in 2009.  That’s good, though you’d like to see it improve upon its predecessor.  At 2013 ticket prices, the first Cloudy would have grossed $87 million in its first 17 days, $9 million more than Cloudy 2.  That’s bad.  The studio managed to lower the production budget for Cloudy 2 by $22 million compared to the first Cloudy meaning they don’t actually have to make as much as the first one to make a profit.  That’s good.  Moving on…

4. Machete Kills (Opening Weekend)


  • Opening Weekend Gross=$3.79 million
  • Budget=They’re Not Telling; likely very small

Foreign: Currently playing in 15 foreign territories, most notably the U.K., Brazil, and France.  There is no estimate as to performance in those territories at the time of this writing.

Maybe it was never a good idea to convert a trailer homage to grimey B movies into a film franchise.  Sure, the first Machete didn’t perform all that poorly, pulling in $44 million worldwide on a $10.5 million budget.  The sequel?  Well, it bombed enough that it holds the unfortunate distinction of having the eighth worst opening of all films to have opened on more than 2,500 screens since 1982.  Of course, that’s not necessarily a fault of the film but more owing to whoever it was at the studio who thought Machete was a “let’s open it on more than 2,500 screens because the kids of America love themselves some Danny Trejo” type of franchise.

5. Runner Runner 


  • Weekend Gross=$3.72 million
  • Total Gross to De=$14.1 million
  • Budget=$30 million

Foreign: $31.1 million total foreign gross from 34 territories to date for a combined worldwide total gross of $45.2 million.  It has already opened in the major foreign markets with very few scheduled additional foreign openings form this point forward.

Wow.  Honestly, a 50% drop in its second weekend is way better than expected after its soft opening weekend, dreadful reviews, and incredibly negative word of mouth as indicated by C grade on Cinemascore.

6. Prisoners


  • Weekend Gross=$3.6 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$53.6 million
  • Budget=$46 million

Foreign: Currently playing in 25 foreign territories, with releases in Brazil and Hong Kong just around the corner.  $22.6 million total foreign gross to date for a combined worldwide total gross of $76.2 million.

Finally, Prisoners managed to stop the bleeding for one week, and hold on to most of its audience (only a 36% drop) after dropping nearly 50% every weekend since its release.  With releases in several major foreign markets still on the horizon, it will certainly end up doubling its budget in worldwide gross although not by a whole lot.  The studio will most likely make their money on home video, with fingers crossed for acting nominations during film awards season to renew interest in the film.

7. Insidious: Chapter 2

Insidious 2 trailer (Screengrab)

  • Weekend Gross=$2.6 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$78.4 million
  • Budget=$5 million

Foreign: $26.4 million total foreign gross to date from 20 territories (with many more scheduled additional foreign openings in the coming weeks) for a combined worldwide total gross of $104.9 million.

The strange thing here is that with Insidious: Chapter 2 having actually moved up the charts from #8 to #7 this week you would have expected it to have made more money this weekend due to a “it’s a horror film during the month of Halloween” reasons.  Nope.  It continued its soft decline, losing just over 30% of its audience.  The reasons it jumped up a spot is due to the plummeting business of Rush, Don Jon, and Baggage Claim.

8. Rush


  • Weekend Gross=$2.36 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$22.2 million
  • Budget=$38 million

Foreign: Now playing in 40 foreign territories, after having expanded to China this weekend.  $47.5 million total foreign gross to date for a combined worldwide total gross of $69.7 million.

Not surprisingly, domestic audiences have largely ignored Rush, a film dramatizing the infamous real life story of two legendary F1 car racers.  It dropped another 47% in its third  weekend in wide release.  For American audiences, if is not animated and/or doesn’t star Vin Diesel car movies are a no-go.  Foreign audiences haven’t exactly turned Rush into a surefire hit either.  It’s all a shame because the word is that Rush is actually a pretty good movie.

9. Don Jon


  • Weekend Gross=$2.34 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$20.1 million
  • Budget=$6 Million (with an estimated additional $25 million devoted to marketing)

Foreign: $1.5 million total foreign gross to date from 9 territories for a combined worldwide total gross of $21.6 million.

This looks like a colossal blunder on distributor Relativity Media’s part who are thought to have invested around $29 million in combined purchasing fees and marketing for the independently produced Don Jon.   However, given the film’s heavy sexual content and uncomfortable subject matter (i.e., porn addiction) it was never going to become the sleeper hit some desperately hoped.  It has arguably only made as much as it has because Relativity’s intense marketing and star/director/writer Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s relentless promotion lead to total gross wherein nearly half came from the opening weekend.  For their part, Relativity maintains a public front of confidence, arguing that their business model is more complex than mere box office numbers can capture.  I sure hope so.

10. Baggage Claim


  • Weekend Gross=$2 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$18.2 million
  • Budget=They’re Not Telling

Foreign: Opened in the U.K./Ireland and France this weekend.  There is no estimate as to performance over there at the time of this writing.

Still on track for that predicted $20 million or so domestic gross.


What Happened Outside of the Top 10?

Enough Said and Pulling the Strings all left the top 10 a week after entering  it for the first time.  They both still have top 5 per-screen averages, but are playing on the fewest overall screens of any films in the top 15 by at least 400 screens.  Pulling the Strings is certainly not going to replicate Instructions Not Included‘s impressive business for a Spanish-language film, dropping over 50% in its second weekend.  Hybrid concert film Metallica Through the Never dropped 10 spots from #16 to #26, and has now only grossed a little over $3 million on a $18 million budget.  This is one concert film arguably two decades too late in terms of Metallica’s popularity, and was horribly timed considering it is designed to be shown in IMAX but came out when Gravity was gobbling up IMAX screens everywhere.

What’s Up Next?: 

There are two movies opening in limited release (Kill Your Darlings, All Is Lost), and three opening in wide release (Carrie, Escape Plan, The Fifth Estate).  It’s about to get very crowded out there, although the safe money is on Carrie enjoying a big opening due to its status as the only new horror movie receiving a wide release this close to Halloween.

Jeez, enough with the numbers already.


  1. What I love about Gravity’s 3D numbers is that it proves that if you make a movie that’s worth seeing in 3D, the audience will actually go do just that. Perhaps we’ll get some studios to pay attention to their 3D more rather than just try to money-grab by converting after-the-fact or using cheap 3D tricks.

    1. I have to admit to being surprised at how well Gravity has done. I mean absolutely everything we’d seen in terms of box office performance over the summer with 3D was negative. Like I mentioned last week, some studios just simply stopped announcing the 3D/2D splits in their box office estimates because it didn’t benefit them to do so anymore. It seemed like the honeymoon was over. However, Warner Bros. has done a brilliant job in convincing audiences that Gravity was different. It was like “look, our bad, I know we’ve had some cash-grab 3D retroconversions that were just awful, and now you’re mad at us. But, seriously, this one was 100% designed for 3D. Honest.”

      I think what Gravity has proven, like you said, is that despite what the stats had indicated the passion for 3D has not necessarily waned. It’s simply that audiences have adapted out of necessity to be able to tell the difference between a truly immersive 3D experience and a cheap cash grab. I think the interesting next step will be to see how much of a boost Thor and Ender’s Game will get next month from 3D/IMAX despite not offering the Avatar/Gravity-like 3D immersion. So close to the heels of Gravity, will audiences be more willing to try and replicate that awesome 3D experience, and will those movies have done anything interesting with the format to justify it? We’ll soon find out.

      1. Given the nature of the Battle School simulations in Ender’s Game, that would be the more likely to be worth seeing in 3D.

        However, as a 3D consumer, I haven’t heard anything that would make me think either of those follows the lead of Gravity in the 3D field.

        I think that Gravity’s 3D numbers will be a fluke for now. I hope it’s good for the art form long-term (and I do think that 3D is an art form when done well), but I’d be surprised to see it shift things short-term. But as you said, it’d be interesting to see!

      2. I’m inclined to agree with you – Gravity is a unique situation that is a testament to the possibilities of 3D; not an Avatar-like phenomenon that is going to ignite another 3D copy-cat craze.

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