Box Office Top 10 Film Film News

Box Office Decoded: Gravity & Captain Phillips=Strong, Carrie & Escape Plan=Soft, Fifth Estate=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 and Captain Phillips continued their wicked 1-2 punch atop the chart while Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 kept pace with the performance of the first Cloudy.  Two of the new entries opened soft (Carrie, Escape Plan) while one straight up bombed (The Fifth Estate).  Plus, Machete Kills dropped out of the top 10 in its just its second weekend.  

Let’s break it down:

Top 10 Estimates for the 10/18-10/20 Weekend Box Office (Domestic)

1. Gravity 


  • Weekend Gross=$31 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$170.5 million
  • Budget=$100 million

Foreign: $33.5 million from 51 foreign territories this weekend for a new total foreign gross of $114.2 million for a  worldwide total of $284.7 million.

For as long as Gravity has a stranglehold of the IMAX and 3D screens, it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down in any significant way.  It dropped a mere 28% in its third weekend, which is good just not as good as its amazing 23% last weekend.  It is now the 10th highest grossing (domestic) film of 2013.  Funnily enough, what’s the 11th highest grossing? The Sandra Bullock-Melissa McCarthy comedy The Heat.  This is clearly the year of Sandra Bullock.  By the time Thor: The Dark World arrives in a couple of weeks to take over most IMAX and 3D screens, Gravity will have long since passed $200 million domestic.

2. Captain Phillips


  • Weekend Gross=$17.3 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$53.3 million
  • Budget=$55 million

Foreign: In 11 overseas territories, Captain Phillips brought in $9.1 million for a combined total worldwide gross of $62.4 million.

At this point, no one knows what the heck to use as a direct comparison for Gravity.  Captain Phillips, on the other hand, is receiving endless comparisons to Argo.  It’s a thrilling action film based upon a true story, and released in October, just like Argo on all three counts.  So, it behooves distributor Sony/Columbia to point out they took Warner Bros.’ formula from Argo, replicated it, and are making more money (plus comparisons to Argo bring the Oscars to mind).  In 10 days, Captain Phillips is sitting at $53.3 million domestic gross whereas Argo was only at $43 million after its first 10 days.  The difference?  Argo was a huge word-of-mouth hit, dropping off an astonishingly low 15% in its second weekend while Captain Phillips dropped a good-but-not-as-good 33% here in its second weekend.  Argo started slower but ended with a total domestic gross of $136 million.  Can Captain Phillips get there?  Probably not, but this is a hit for all involved parties (Sony/Columbia, Tom Hanks, Paul Greengrass).

3. Carrie (Opening Weekend)

Carrie Chloe Grace Moretz

  • Opening Weekend Gross=$17 million
  • Budget=$30 million

Foreign: Coinciding with its domestic debut, Carrie also opened in 7 foreign territories (e.g, Czech Republic, Thailand, Poland).  There is no estimation yet as to the amount of money grossed in those territories.

Let this be a lesson to all who might fancy themselves amateur box office prognosticators: just because a horror film opens two weeks before Halloween with no competition from a single other new horror film does not automatically equal big business.  Even though it appeared to have zero buzz Carrie seemed positioned to open big, but instead it failed to even equal the business of the Evil Dead re-make/revival from earlier this year (which opened with over $25 million).  The reviews (49% on RottenTomatoes) and word-of-mouth (B- CinemaScore) profile a decent-but-not-great movie, and that’s exactly the type of business it ended up doing (not that there’s always a direct correlation between quality of film and box office performance).

4. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2


  • Weekend Gross=$10.1 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$93.1 million
  • Budget=$78 million

Foreign: $9.7 million in foreign gross this past week for a new total foreign gross of $31.1 million and combined total worldwide gross of $124.2 million.  It only added 2 new foreign territories this weekend (Macedonia and Ireland) meaning it is only playing in 14 foreign markets (big ones like Brazil but not in the U.K. or China).

It is enjoying a healthy box office run, not as good as last year’s Hotel Transylvania from the same distributor (Sony Animation) but at least as good in actual dollars the first Cloudy in 2009.  Cloudy 2‘s $93 million domestic gross after 24 days is barely short of the first Cloudy‘s $95 million domestic gross after its first 24 days.  After you adjust for ticket price inflation, though, that gap widens to roughly $12 million.  So, the story with Cloudy 2 at this point is that it is doing as good as the first Cloudy in actual dollars, a wee bit behind in adjusted dollars, but makes up for the gap by having cost the studio $22 million less to make than the first Cloudy.  It will end up being Sony Animation’s third highest grossing film of all time, though that really only means it will make more than Monster House, Open Season, and Surf’s Up but not the first Cloudy or Hotel Transylvania.

5. Escape Plan (Opening Weekend)


  • Opening Weekend Gross=$9.8 million
  • Budget=$50 million (estimated)

Foreign: Is currently playing in 34 foreign territories, 11 of which got it last weekend prior to its domestic debut.  From these 34 territories, it pulled down $9.4 million this weekend for a new total foreign gross of $14.1 million and a combined total worldwide gross of $23.9 million.

Please, go back in time and make this movie back in 1991.  The younger version of me who grew up on Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone action films would have killed to see that, although I was always more of a Terminator guy than Rambo/Rocky.  It’s that type of nostalgia that has elevated Stallone’s Expendables films into $275-300 million worldwide-grossers.  However, those films played the 1980s nostalgia card as well as the Schwarzenegger-Stallone team-up already, thus limiting the uniqueness of Escape Plan.  So, instead Schwarzenegger and Stallone’s combined powers were only enough to improve upon the openings for their respective earlier 2013 box office duds, Bullet to the Head ($4.5 million opening/$9.4 million domestic total) for Stallone and The Last Stand ($6.2 million domestic opening/$37.1 million total worldwide on a $45 million budget) for Schwarzenegger.  Escape Plan has already made more than Bullet to the Head, and opened nearly $4 million higher than The Last Stand.  It has a shot with strong word-of-mouth to stick around and flirt with a final domestic total around $30 million, but ultimately it’s a case of how far the mighty have fallen.  Asta la vista, Adrian!

6. Prisoners


  • Weekend Gross=$2 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$57.2 million
  • Budget=$46 million

Foreign: $11.7 million this past week for a new total foreign gross of $34.3 and a combined total worldwide gross of $91.5 million.  It just added 4 new territories bringing its total up to 29 (not counting domestic), and the biggest market awaiting its release is China.

This week, there wasn’t a whole lot of money to be made outside of the top 5, but Prisoners managed to stick to its #6 spot for the second weekend in a row despite its weekend gross dropping 43%.  It has pretty much doubled its production budget in worldwide gross at this point, and is certain to make some more meager gains in the coming weeks.  However, the studio will most likely make their real money on home video, with fingers crossed for acting nominations during film awards season to renew interest in the film

7. Enough Said


  • Weekend Gross=$1.8 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$10.7 million
  • Budget=They’re Not Telling

Foreign: It expanded to its first foreign territories this weekend (U.K./Ireland), but at the moment the only available box office information is domestic.

Fox Searchlight expanded to an additional 151 screens for a new total of 757, and business stayed almost identical (only a 5% drop).  So, Enough Said managed to jump back into the top 10 this week by mostly making the exact same amount of money as last week while everything ahead of it dipped.  There was no great surge in business here but instead a really strong hold.  This has now become director/writer Nicole Holofcener’s second highest grossing film behind 2006’s Friends with Money. In-between directing episodes of TV shows like Sex and the City and Parks and Recreation, Holofcener has made a series of independent films usually focused on slightly unlikable, definitely affluent white, New York women.  The central topics have ranged from interracial adoption (Lovely & Amazing) to aimlessness and social stratification among the wealthy (Friends with Money) to reaching down and realizing there may not be anything more to yourself than surface level (Please Give).  Enough Said is her first real romantic comedy.

8. The Fifth Estate (Opening Weekend)

The Fifth Estate

  • Opening Weekend Gross=$1.7 million
  • Budget=$28 million

Foreign: It made its worldwide (non-film festival) debut last weekend in the U.K./Ireland and expanded into Spain, Lithuania, Estonia, and Portugal alongside the U.S. and Canada this weekend.  Foreign gross totals from this weekend are not yet available, but it made $1.6 million in the U.K. over the past week meaning it currently has a total worldwide gross of $3.3 million.

Well, that could have been better…a lot better.  This stars Benedict Cumberbatch playing Julian Assange and tells the backstory of one of the biggest stories of the internet era, i.e., Wikileaks.  However, before you could even muster up a Social Network comparison the word out of the Toronto Film Festival was so mixed-to-negative that the project took on a new air of bomb-waiting-to-happen. This is what a slow-motion explosion looks like.  There is no silver lining (e.g., “well, it’s per-screen average was good, or it opened on so few screens”).  Nope, this opened on nearly 1800 screens, made less than a thousand per, and limped to a $1.7 domestic debut after a weak opening in the U.K. last week.  In the race to be the next Social Network, Fifth Estate is dead on arrival, having failed to even equal the already meager opening business of Ashton Kutcher’s similarly Social Network-aspiring Jobs earlier this year ($6.7 million opening weekend).

9. Runner Runner


  • Weekend Gross=$1.6 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$17.5 million
  • Budget=$30 Million

Foreign: $6.4 million foreign gross this past week from 34 territories for a new total foreign gross of $37.5 million and a combined total worldwide gross of $55 million.

Domestic audiences are turning a cold shoulder to Runner Runner, with drops of over 50% in its second and third weekends.  It will end as Justin Limberlake’s lowest domestic grossing film to feature him in a starring role since 2007’s Alpha Dog, although you could argue that was more of an ensemble film.  However, it’s doing quite a bit better overseas although not nearly enough to turn this into a success story (not yet).

10. Insidious Chapter 2

Insidious 2 trailer (Screengrab)

  • Weekend Gross=$1.5 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$80.9 million
  • Budget=$5 million

Foreign: $10.6 million foreign gross this past week from 22 territories for a new total foreign gross of $37 million and a combined total worldwide gross of $117.9 million.  It has yet to open in places like Brazil, China, Japan, Australia, and Spain.

It’s not going to enjoy as long of a word-of-mouth life as the first Insidious, but Chapter 2 is up to nearly $120 million worldwide on a $5 million budget.  It is shrewd business like that lead to the president of the film’s distributor getting hired by Universal for the same position at Focus Features, which will now serve as the distributor for the inevitable Insidious Chapter 3.


What Happened Outside of the Top 10?

Rush, Machete Kills, Don Jon, and Baggage Claim fell in at #’s 11-14 respectively, each one making a little over $1 million in their first weekends’ outside of the top 10.  Of those 4, Machete Kills is the most notable in that it dropped off 68% in falling out of the top 10 in only its second weekend of release.  In 10 days it has managed a craptastic $6.4 million domestic gross.  As a point of comparison, the first Machete film managed to double its production in its first 10 days by grossing $20.9 million on the way toward a $26.5 million domestic total ($44 million worldwide).

In limited release, marketed-toward-Christian-churches-I’m in Love with a Church Girl debuted with an average $1 million on 457 screens (for a $2,243 per-screen-average, the 7th best of the top 15 films this weekend).  12 Years a Slave did so much better, falling just short of a domestic total of $1 million from only 19 screens (that’s over $50,000 per screen).

What’s Up Next?: 

We get to see first hand how exactly it is that a movie starring Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, directed by Ridley Scott, and written by Cormac McCarthy can have next to zero buzz this close to its release when The Counselor opens wide on Friday (10/25).  Could they end being bested by Johnny Knoxville’s attempts to spin-off one of his Jackass characters into a Borat-style film?  Say hello to Bad Grandpa, also opening wide on Friday.

Jeez, enough with the numbers already.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: