Weekend Wrap-Up

By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower

October 7, 2012

Our hero takes a moment to remember all the people he's killed.

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Looper, the critically beloved science fiction movie from Sony, fell 41% from last weekend’s debut to $12.2 million. Given that this film is somewhat challenging (and dark), the fact that its hold was in the 40% range is absolutely exemplary. We noted last weekend that critical response was seeming to be more positive than that of the general public, but it looks like audiences are giving the complex time travel tale a chance. So far, the Joseph Gordon-Levitt/Bruce Willis movie has earned $40.3 million, well in excess of its reported $30 million budget. Not only will this be a box office success, but it’s also the kind of movie that people will discuss and champion for years to come.

Our second completely new release this weekend is Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, which comes up in fifth place with $11.5 million. Disney had been marketing and promoting the stop-motion animated film for months, with the trailer appearing in front of all varieties of animated and family films. Why, then, did it earn only a quarter of Hotel Transylvania’s debut weekend total and $3 million less than ParaNorman? All three had similar gothic subject matter, after all.

We discussed this question somewhat last weekend with the debut of Hotel Transylvania. That movie, an accessible comedy that is really about family rather than being truly macabre, was clearly always going to be the populist choice. ParaNorman, like Coraline before it, was critically beloved and had a lot of advocates amongst its viewers, but was perhaps too scary for little ones.

Now we come to Frankenweenie, which should have had a lot going for it. First off, I mentioned that Disney marketed the heck out of it, so awareness amongst potential audience members was high. Additionally, Tim Burton has a built-in fan base, people who will see his films no matter what. But if you look at the early ads for Frankenweenie, the movie effectively looks like a more genial Pet Sematary. I think, though, that the ultimate hurdle for Frankenweenie is that ultimately, it’s about the death of a beloved pet. Yes, the pet is brought back to life, but it’s still painful subject matter, one that is difficult to discuss with children, ostensibly the film’s target audience. As someone who has lost two pets over the last couple of years, I decided to wait for the safety of home video to watch the movie. This is bad news, because I’m one of those Burton fans who will see almost anything he creates. I think I’d rather see people being made into pies, frankly.


Perhaps because this is such a personal project for Burton, critics are lauding the film as one of his most inventive and emotionally resonant projects ever. As an interesting side note, Frankenweenie is based on one of Burton’s first movies ever, a short he created in 1984 that had been planned to appear before a re-release of Pinocchio. Instead, Disney fired Burton, saying that he had wasted company resources on a project that wound up being too macabre and scary for its target audience. Almost 20 years later, I wonder if they’re realizing the enduring truth of that sentiment.

Sixth and seventh place this weekend are held by a couple of fading September releases. End of Watch, the Jake Gyllenhaal cop drama, fell 49% to $4 million. Its running total of $32.9 million is phenomenal for a movie that cost less than $12 million to produce. Trouble with the Curve fell a similar 47% to $3.9 million, bringing its domestic grand total to $29.8 million. It appears likely to fall a bit short of expectations, just as the team from the movie, The Atlanta Braves, did during the National League Wild Card game. Nobody understands the Infield Fly Rule, not even Clint Eastwood’s Empty Chair.

The rest of the top ten is comprised of a horror film, an arthouse sensation and an animated re-release. House at the End of the Street accrued another $3.7 million, bringing its total earnings to $27.5 million. The Master has not been as popular with mainstream audiences as it had been in metropolitan areas during its extremely limited release. Another $1.8 million this weekend gives The Master domestic revenue of $12.3 million; its $2,130 per-location average, however, represents only 1.4% of its opening weekend’s record-setting $147,262. Finally, Finding Nemo 3D garners $1.6 million and has a total of $39 million during its re-release.

Combined revenue for the top 12 this week was $132.4 million. In comparison to 2011, this is a massive improvement of 55.5%, up from $85.1 million. While cynics could point out that Taken 2 alone accounts for the difference, this argument misses the point. The other films in the top 12 this week matched last year before we include the third largest October performance ever. That’s the bonus money that once again demonstrates a true blockbuster can open huge on any weekend of a given year.

Top Weekend Box Office for 10/5/12-10/7/12 (Estimates)
Rank Film Distributor Estimated Gross Weekly Change Running Total
1 Taken 2 Twentieth Century Fox $50,000,000 New $50,000,000
2 Hotel Transylvania Columbia Pictures (Sony) $26,300,000 - 38% $76,000,000
3 Pitch Perfect Universal $14,736,400 +186% $21,582,608
4 Looper Sony/Columbia $12,200,000 - 41% $40,300,000
5 Frankenweenie Walt Disney Pictures $11,500,000 New $11,500,000
6 End of Watch Open Road $4,000,000 - 49% $32,845,946
7 Trouble With the Curve Warner Bros. $3,870,000 - 47% $29,760,000
8 House at the End of the Street Relativity $3,698,000 - 48% $27,531,144
9 The Master The Weinstein Company $1,840,000 - 31% $12,315,329
10 Finding Nemo 3d WALT DISNEY $1,555,000 - 61% $38,969,000
11 The Perks of Being a Wallflower Summit Entertainment $1,525,000 + 38% $3,300,000
12 Resident Evil: Retribution Sony/Columbia $1,150,000 - 61% $41,000,000
  Also Opening/Notables
  The Oranges Ato Pictures $180,000 New $180,000
  The Paperboy Millennium $110,033 New $110,033
  Butter The Weinstein Company $75,000 New $75,000
  V/h/s Magnolia $40,000 New $40,000
  Escape Fire Roadside Attractions $25,956 New $25,956
  The House i Live In Abramorama $19,654 New $19,654
  Wuthering Heights $8,785 New $8,785
  Wake In Fright Drafthouse Films $6,749 New $6,749
  Decoding Deepak Snagfilms/paladin $9,050 New $9,050
  Bel Borba Aqui Abramorama $2,135 New $2,135
  Won't Back Down Twentieth Century Fox $1,015,000 - 61% $4,482,513
  Dredd Lionsgate $625,000 - 74% $12,675,414
  The Possession Lionsgate $635,000 - 53% $48,402,883
Box office data supplied by Exhibitor Relations
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