Cloudy 2 Reigns Over Adult-Oriented Fare
By John Hamann
September 29, 2013
Second place goes to last weekend’s number one film, Prisoners, starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaall. Prisoners stumbled in its second frame, earning only $11.3 million and dropping a large 46%. Given the strong opening last weekend, I thought this one would have held better, but with a lot of new product out this weekend, and both Rush and Enough Said expanding, adult viewers went elsewhere. Remember, this is a dark, adult thriller – a film that wouldn’t normally open beyond $20 million, but did thanks to the star power involved. Prisoners cost $46 million to make, and has a domestic take so far of $39 million. It should find similar business overseas, where it’s just getting started. It opened in the UK this weekend, followed by its Australian debut in mid-October.
Finishing third this weekend is Ron Howard’s Rush, a film that just about everyone knew was going to struggle at the domestic box office. A film about Formula One racing, centered around real life racers many Americans have never heard of, is destined to struggle, despite starring Thor and being directed by Opie. Last weekend, Rush opened in limited release where it took in $187,289 from five theaters, good for a venue average of $37,458. Sounds pretty good, right? Problem is, the romantic comedy Enough Said also opened in limited release, and earned almost $50,000 more than Rush, despite being in one less venue. That simple statistic told me that while some were interested in the well-reviewed Oscar contender, the walls weren’t being pushed down to get in to see it.
Rush expanded to 2,297 venues this weekend, and earned $3.7 million on Friday night. Neither really good or really bad, the Universal release parlayed that opening day into a weekend take of $10.3 million. Universal will be happy that they were able to eclipse the $10 million mark, but I imagine they were looking for a $15-20 million debut, like Argo’s $19.5 million last year. A higher amount would have reduced the pressure to hold well in its follow-up weekends, as this one does not want to lose the eye of Oscar. Reviews have indicated that the two lead performances here are worthy of Academy Awards.
Given the venue count Rush was given, Universal has left room for the movie to expand, but with Gravity opening next weekend (with $30 million plus expectations) and Captain Phillips the weekend after, it is going to get crushed underneath early Oscar contenders (see Prisoners this weekend). The good news financially for Rush is that it was not an expensive film to make, with a budget at $38 million. That’s a number this one could make domestically given its A- Cinemascore, as well as big amounts coming from overseas, since this is about a European sport. Rush has already taken in $7.5 million from the UK, and $2.5 million in Italy, which means that the producers of this independent release are pretty much guaranteed to make money. I predict that Rush will make as little as 25% of its overall take from North American box office.