It was a packed weekend in North America this time around. Three movies of different genres were opening wide. An action film, a horror flick and a drama biopic. They would have expected an intense battle amongst each other, a gruelling race to finish at the top. There might have been some competition from the releases of the previous weekend, and a dwindling fight from the ones that released a weekend even before. This is how it usually is, why would it have been any different now? They could not have been more mistaken. Things turned out so different in fact, that no one could have seen it coming, not even the winners of the weekend, and definitely not the losers. Without further beating around the bush, the box-office results from the weekend in North America turned out to be something like this: Gravity became the first film of 2013 to top three straight weekends, and has earned more in its third weekend than the combined earnings of all the three new releases! If you don’t find that impressive, then even Houdini would not have been able to dazzle you.
We talk of the new releases first. Amongst the three, it was the horror flick Carrie starring Chloë Grace Moretz that brought home the highest earnings, though it still landed up in third spot on the box-office charts. A remake of the classic Brian De Palma film of 1976, the latest version has turned out to be an underperformer. Carrie opened its first weekend with earnings of $17 million, which comes nowhere close to the $40 million opening of Insidious Chapter 2 or the $42 million opening of The Conjuring. On top of that, Carrie has a pretty high production budget of $30 million for a horror movie. Wasn’t the rule to make a horror film in a sub-$10 million budget? In what has otherwise been a great year for horror films, Carrie might just be the odd one out.
While Carrie could attract only limited viewership, Escape Plan fared worse. After Schwarzenegger’s The Last Stand and Stallone’s Bullet to the Head had fared miserably at the box-office earlier in the year, they both came together in Escape Plan to do slightly better than their solo outings but hardly anything praise-worthy. The budget of Escape Plan is mentioned somewhere as $70 million, which then makes its $9.8 million earnings on the opening weekend appear quite poor. While the action stars do not command the viewership that they held two decades back, the failure of Escape Plan stems from poor screenplay and direction more than anything else. The studios would be hoping for a stronger run in foreign markets to cut their losses, as the action duo command a huge fanbase worldwide. The worldwide earnings are already at $24 million, but there is still a lot to recover.
But nothing could have turned out to be as disastrous as the fate of The Fifth Estate. A story about a man much in the news, being played by an actor who is undoubtedly a rising star, there had been enough expectation for this movie to make an impact. It turns out hardly anyone was interested. The movie opened to a terrible $1.7 million earnings in the domestic market, which is the worst opening this year for a movie that released in more than 1500 theatres. Compare this to the other bomb of the year Paranoia with the legendary cast of Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford. While Paranoia had a production budget of $35 million, the budget of The Fifth Estate is slightly lower at $28 million. Paranoia opened to a dismal $3.5 million which was then seen as a disaster no one could match, until The Fifth Estate raked in only half of that. If you are desperate to make a case for The Fifth Estate, it did open in 690 theatres lesser than Paranoia, though that would hardly win you much points. Paranoia has completed its run in the domestic theatres earning $7.4 million in all; The Fifth Estate is not likely to do any better, though it may have a foreign run, it still has turned out to be Benedict Cumberbatch’s worst nightmare. He’s still young, and talented of course; so time for him to move on.
As the new releases flickered and faded, without ever casting any meaningful light, it was left to the awesome duo at the top to save the day. Gravity is refusing to be pulled down, staying atop for the third weekend in a row, and dropping another mild 28% as compared to the previous weekend. If the Oscar buzz on the opening day itself was not enough, this phenomenal run almost ensures a few awards in the bag for the movie. Gravity has raked in $171 million so far in the domestic market, and another $114 million in the foreign markets, to have a combined worldwide collection so far of $285 million. Is there anyone who can take it down, that remains the question, as the movie is marching on to bigger numbers with each passing week, its production budget of $100 million long forgotten. Below it is another movie that has earned waves of praise, Captain Phillips, which also dipped only 33% for its second weekend. Incredibly, both movies which are supposed to have a similar target audience, continue to enjoy fine runs beyond their first week, and have left the newcomers miles behind. Deciding the right weekend to release a movie does play a role in the movie’s fate, but things like these the studios behind the new releases of the weekend could never have predicted. Now Ridley Scott’s The Counselor and the latest R-rated comedy Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa will step up in the coming weekend to challenge the might of Gravity and Captain Phillips. Will there be a new movie atop the box-office charts soon? This has become really interesting!
Here are the top 5 weekend earners at the US box-office (estimates):
1. Gravity ($31.0 million; third weekend)
2. Captain Phillips ($17.3 million; second weekend)
3. Carrie ($17.0 million)
4. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 ($10.1 million; fourth weekend)
5. Escape Plan ($9.8 million)