Weekend Wrap-Up
I, Frankenstein Flops; Ride Along Tops as Box Office Slides
By John Hamann
January 26, 2014

C'mon, smile! We're #1 again!

Welcome to the post-Martin Luther King Jr. weekend at the box office, where the lone new release, I, Frankenstein, dug a hole and hid, and Universal celebrates another weekend as the distributor of the top two films at the box office, taking about one-third of the overall box office.

Our number one film for the second straight weekend is Ride Along, the new comedy with Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, and directed by Tim Story, the successful man behind Barbershop and Think Like a Man. After opening to a January record $41.6 million over three days and a MLK Jr. weekend record of $48.6 million over four, reality comes crashing in quickly. The Universal comedy earned another $21.2 million this weekend, off an ‘it-could-be-worse’ percentage drop of 49%. Long weekend follow-ups often look like hangovers, as over the previous weekend, the Sunday behaves more like a Saturday since no one has to go to school or work on Monday. Just keeping the drop where it is could be considered a success, as the previous record holder, Cloverfield, fell 68% in its second weekend, moving from $40.1 million to $12.7 million.

For Universal, they have to be extremely pleased with where Ride Along is heading. This one cost only $25 million to make and after only two weekends, it has a gross so far of $75.4 million. Ice Cube may not be known for leggy films, but he’s been in a few. 21 Jump Street opened to $36.3 million, but still managed an opening-to-total multiplier of 3.8, finishing with $138.4 million. The first Barbershop movie opened to $20.6 million and finished with $75.8 million, which is a 3.7 multiplier. Even the Barbershop sequel opened to $24.2 million and finished with $65.1 million, good for a 2.7 multiplier. If Ride Along were to earn that 2.7 multiplier, it would finish with $112 million. I see it doing a little bit better than that, finishing with about $120 million, keeping in mind that $25 million production investment.

Universal also has the number two film, Lone Survivor, which has been number one or number two for three consecutive weekends. After turning in a $22.1 million result last weekend, Lone Survivor dropped 43% in this frame, earning $12.6 million. The studio may have been looking for somewhat better legs from their well-reviewed war picture; however, given its $40 million budget and gross so far of $93.6 million, I don’t think they are going to cry too much. Lone Survivor has made a couple million overseas, but as expected, it’s causing no big waves away from home. Still, Universal is going to have two $100 million films before Valentine’s Day, and then release Endless Love ON February 14th. Look for Lone Survivor to finish with about $110 million, and combined with Ride Along, the two films should bring in over $235 million, against a spend of only $65 million. Universal may not have a major Oscar contender in Lone Survivor, but this start should make up for it.

Third spot goes to The Nut Job, the Open Road animated release that beat expectations over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. After taking in $19.4 million over three days last weekend and a solid $25.7 million over four days, The Nut Job was able to squirrel away another $12.3 million this weekend, declining 37%. The budget on The Nut Job was $42 million, an amount this one should see by next weekend. This is not going to be a huge hit with only domestic sales counted, but it could find further business overseas. So far, the Open Road release has earned $40.3 million, and is already the upstart distributor’s fourth biggest film.

Frozen is able to pop back up to fourth place in its ninth weekend of wide release. The Disney Animation release earned another $9 million this weekend, dropping a terrific 23% compared to last weekend. Frozen leapfrogs The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers to become the 27th biggest domestic release of all-time this weekend with its overall take of $347.8 million. I see Frozen topping out around $365 million, very close to Despicable Me 2’s total of $368 million. It also crossed the $800 million worldwide mark this weekend, the 10th Walt Disney Studios film ever to achieve that lofty standard.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit finishes fifth. After a three-day take last weekend of $15.5 million, and a four-day of $18 million, the Chris Pine release falls a spot compared to the previous frame. Jack Ryan pulled in $8.8 million this weekend, which means it fell 43% compared to its three-day take last weekend. The $60 million Paramount release is not going to match its production budget stateside; however, of the four openers released last weekend, Jack Ryan is likely to be the biggest overseas grosser. Shadow Recruit has already pulled in $46 million overseas, with at least $10 million of that coming from China. If it can earn $50 million stateside and $80 million overseas, it should keep the studio from taking a heavy hit on the production. Domestically, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit has earned $30.2 million.

Way down in sixth is I, Frankenstein, a bad movie that is simply not worth the investment of $65 million. I, Frankenstein earned only $8.3 million from 2,753 screens, which means it had a venue average of only $3,006. The Aaron Eckhart film was held back from critics until release, and at this point, with 38 reviews counted at RottenTomatoes, only two are positive. It has a zero "fresh" reviews from Top Critics. This one was supposed to come out a year ago, in February, but got pushed to April, and then got pushed again to this weekend. Lionsgate is the distributor on this one, but won’t take a financial hit. Lakeshore Entertainment, producers of the Underworld series, will bear the financial burden for I, Frankenstein. Even with the ugly domestic numbers, it could see some dollars overseas.

Many of the Oscar hopefuls expanded their runs this weekend, reducing the risk of an ugly percentage drop dampening their Oscar chances. American Hustle leads the Oscar charge again this weekend, albeit in seventh. The David O. Russell release earned another $7.1 million this weekend, down from the $9.9 million it earned over three days last weekend and good for a drop of 28%. The $40 million Sony release added 100 screens this weekend, and brings its domestic total up to $127 million. Overseas, it has brought in another $35 million.

Eighth is the Weinstein release August: Osage County. The Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts release earned another $5 million, which means it’s down a hefty 32% compared to last weekend. The dark comedy has earned $26.5 million stateside, and another $9 million overseas.

The Wolf of Wall Street finishes ninth as the Marty Scorsese movie continues to climb toward $100 million, which is also the amount of its production budget. This weekend, Wolf earned another $5 million and fell 29% compared to last weekend. It has brought in $98 million domestically, in addition to another $77 million overseas for Paramount.

Messing up the Oscar list is Devil’s Due, which flopped last weekend, but earned more than its $7 million production budget, so the stream of these ridiculous films will never end. This weekend, the horror film fell 67%, and has a gross so far of $12.9 million.

Eleventh is Her from Spike Jonze. Disappointingly, Her is going to be the Best Picture nomination no one has seen, as it continues to struggle to find and hold an audience. This weekend, Her earned $2.3 million, down 43% from the $4 million three-day gross from last weekend. Her has now pulled in $19.1 million stateside, and is just getting started overseas.

Both Dallas Buyers Club and 12 Years a Slave finish outside the top 12. Buyers Club earned $2 million this weekend, an increase over last weekend of 117%, as the venue count went from 419 to 1,110 this weekend. It has a running score of $20.4 million. 12 Years a Slave added 470 venues and earned $2 million, good for a 30% increase. It has a tally of $43.5 million so far.

Overall, the weekend suffered the typical post-MLK Jr. holiday blahs. The top 12 films earned $96.5 million, on par with last year, when Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters led the top 12 to $88.5 million. Next weekend brings Labor Day, a movie that is a failed Oscar candidate, and That Awkward Moment, an R-rated romantic comedy.