Monday, November 4, 2013

‘Ender’s’ does decent domestic business, ‘Thor’ nails the competition overseas

Thanks to Gravity, October’s box-office highlights were flush with excitement and the hyperbolic language of success: The film was record-breaking, Oscar-worthy, earth-shattering (more or less). Now that the fervor surrounding Alfonso Cuaron’s hit has cooled - Gravity dipped 35% this weekend, its largest drop in sales to date - box-office numbers have stabilized accordingly. The first weekend in November wasn’t a dud, simply one in which expectations were met without being exceeded. It’s back to business as usual.

At least until Thor: The Dark World opens domestically, that is. The Marvel comic-book flick and sequel to 2011’s Thor earned $109 million in 36 overseas markets.  It had the fourth best international debut this year, and will likely experience little trouble overtaking Ender’s Game when it opens in theatres across the country this weekend. Game proved a stable player, grossing $28 million domestically. That’s certainly a respectable bow, though many pundits are questioning the film’s tenacity. For how long can the sci-fi feature remain No. 1 in the face of the tough, hammer-wielding competition?  Is the scrappy Ender any match for big, blonde and beautiful Thor? The odds don’t seem to be in his favor.

Last Vegas performed as predicted, earning approximately $16.5 million. That’s a nice haul for CBS Films, whose highest grossing film, The Woman in Black, earned only a few million more ($20.9 million) when it debuted last year. Of course, Last Vegas’ opening doesn’t compare with many of its actors’ successes past (on more than one level) but it’s likely the enjoyable comedy will enjoy a nice run before ending up a footnote in its cast’s long list of credits.

Likewise, it doesn’t look as if Free Birds is in danger of becoming a children’s classic. Critics don’t like it, and, according to the film’s opening numbers, audiences are a bit lukewarm. Clocking in at No. 4, the animated feature about a group of turkeys who travel back in time to prevent their ritualistic slaughter from becoming a Thanksgiving tradition, earned $16.2 million. For weeks, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 has been the only kid-friendly feature available. There was certainly an opening for a new smart, fun and inventive cartoon. Unfortunately, Birds doesn’t fit the bill.


This weekend’s domestic box wasn’t all ho-hum, however. Bad Grandpa continued to do great business, earning a little over $20 million. To date, the Jackass film has earned $62 million and is on track to surpass the franchise’s most successful movie, Jackass: Number 2, sometime this week.

The specialty division  also chugged along at a good clip. One Oscar hopeful, 12 Years A Slave,  grossed $4.6 million from 410 locations, while another, Dallas Buyers Club, made $264,000 from nine theatres. Both are set to expand this coming weekend, and will most likely keep spinning their critical praise and positive word-of-mouth into more profits.

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