Argo: No Longer Just a Mid-Week Champ
By John Hamann
October 28, 2012
Ben Affleck is proving once again he can climb out of a big hole.
The star of what should have been career-killing films like Surviving Christmas, Paycheck and Gigli has climbed all the way back to the top this weekend, as Ben Affleck’s Argo beats five new films, including the "horror for Halloween" release Silent Hill: Revelation, and the Wachowski’s $100 million Cloud Atlas. No opener lived up to its tracking expectations this weekend, as the lead-up to Hurricane Sandy may have played a role in an uber-weak Halloween box office frame, where the top 12 at the box office failed to hit a combined $90 million for the first time in five weekends. In the end, it’s all about Affleck this weekend, as Argo climbs to the top, and if Oscar is watching, Argo’s star and director might just do the same. If I had said that after Surviving Christmas, you all would have gone Walking Dead on me.
Our number one film this weekend is Affleck’s Argo, which is not only critically praised, but earned the elusive A+ Cinemascore, despite not having a fanbase show up on opening night to push it to that high score. Argo opened on October 12th to $19.5 million from 3,232 venues. Then, despite the large venue count, Argo fell a tiny 15% in its second weekend to $16.4 million. It spent every weekday in release – save one – at number one, but couldn’t break through on weekends. That changed this weekend, despite Warner Bros. reducing the venue count by 392 - from 3,247 venues last weekend to 2,855 this weekend. The result is a diminished score of $12.3 million for the weekend, and a drop of 25%. Had Warner Bros. kept the venues it dropped, one could assume that Argo would have earned another$1.7 million (392 x $4,327 venue average), and improved on the percentage drops by a number of points.
Regardless, Argo is already a big hit for its genre, and likely not only a hit on the domestic front. Argo has Lance Armstrong legs. Solid word-of-mouth is propelling it along, but that could be inflated due to the steroid called lack of any decent competition. Cloud Atlas competed poorly this weekend, and the rest of the releases were poorly-made money grabs. Argo cost only $45 million to make, and has already earned back $60.8 million so far. Given the legs, the opening-to-total multiplier is going to be quite big here, larger than The Town’s 3.87. Argo did open lower than The Town ($23.8 million), but Argo has seen lower drops since opening. The Town’s third weekend came in at $9.75 million, and carried a cume of $64.1 million, or about $3 million more than Argo has now. Given the wide release Argo has received, I don’t think the final multiplier will break 4.5, but if it reaches it, Argo will earn $87.6 million, just short of The Town’s $92.2 million. It will be close and certainly interesting). Next weekend brings Denzel in Flight, and Russell Crowe in The Man with the Iron Fists, so we will have to see how it holds up against the male-driven action/dramas.