Weekend Box Office: ENDER’S GAME Wins Frame with $28 Million; THOR: THE DARK WORLD Hits $109 Million in International Debut

     November 3, 2013


The adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s beloved science fiction novel Ender’s Game hit theatres on Friday, and while it’s not looking like a break-out hit, it did not embarrass itself either. Fellow newcomers Last Vegas and Free Birds, came in about equal, but – considering the latter’s family-earning potential – its estimate seems a bit underwhelming. In more impressive news, Thor: The Dark World flexed its muscles overseas, taking in $109.4 million from its first 30 territories.

Title Weekend Total
1.  Ender’s Game $28,000,000 $28
2.  Bad Grandpa $20,500,000 $62
3.  Last Vegas $16,520,000 $16.5
4.  Free Birds $16,200,000 $16.2
5.  Gravity $15,130,000 $219.1
6.  Captain Phillips $8,500,000 $82.5
7.  12 Years a Slave $4,600,000 $8.7
8.  Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 $4,200,000 $106.1
9.  Carrie $3,400,000 $31.9
10.  The Counselor $3,250,000 $13.3

enders-game-final-posterOn what is proving to be a very tepid start to the 2013 holiday season, Ender’s Game easily took first place with an estimated $28 million from 3,407 locations. That’s higher than the film’s initial projection of $25 million, but lower than early sales indicated. After Friday night, it looked like Ender’s might wind up with close to $33 million, which would have been a big win for distributor Lionsgate. In fact, anything over $30 million would have put Ender’s in-line with 2013’s previous sci-fi releases: above Elysium ($29.8 million) and below Oblivion ($37 million). Instead, Ender’s ended up looking more like After Earth, which is not what any fan of the property wants to hear.

After Earth opened to $27.5 million back in May and topped out at just $60.5 million by the end of its domestic run. The film did better overseas, but is still not the kind of comp a studio hopes for on opening weekend. To be fair, box office pundits were not expecting Ender’s to be a blockbuster. Though adapted from a well-known (and oft updated) sci-fi property, Card’s story is not necessarily well-known to general audiences. Reviews have been decent, with Rotten Tomatoes rating Ender’s at 61%, but with Thor: The Dark World on the horizon, ‘decent’ probably won’t help the film find its holiday legs.

Ender’s Game cost a reported $110 million, which is in the same range as this summer’s Elysium. That film wound up earning $283 worldwide, but it is too early to tell if international sales will be strong enough to push Ender’s past the profit margin. With its YA spin and PG-13 rating, Ender’s should have the advantage over Elysium in many territories but – between Thor 2 and Gravity – there may not be enough box office oxygen left to sustain a film like Ender’s.

last-vegas-posterOverall box office receipts were down approximately 8% from this week in 2012, when Wreck It Ralph debuted with $49 million. The film that should have bridged that gap was Free Birds. Considering the dearth of family features following Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, the animated feature had the potential to gross far in excess of its tiny $15 million projection. Featuring the voices of Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson, Free Birds had the widest release of the week, at 3,736 locations, but the lowest per-theatre average among this morning’s top five. Of course, the movie’s Thanksgiving theme could drive attendance over the long holiday season, but that seems like a long shot at this point.

In more promising news, Last Vegas looks like a much better bet for long-term success. The CBS Films release earned an estimated $16.5 million from 3,065 locations, which beat most weekend projections – if only by a slim margin. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa also got some good news. Last weekend’s winner was down just 36% this weekend: a remarkable hold considering that Jackass 3D declined by 57% on its own sophomore frame. Total domestic earnings for Bad Grandpa still trail the last Jackass 3D at the ten-day mark, but it now seems clear that Irv Zisman will surpass Jackass Number Two’s $72 million final US total.

I probably don’t need to tell any of you what next weekend’s number one film will be. The only question is how much will Thor: The Dark World bring in from its first three days? It’s without question that the sequel will top the 2011 original’s $65.7 million opening, but after it’s strong overseas launch, is $100 million possible? More? Hazard your guesses below.


  • Strong Enough

    how is 28 mil not embarrassing especially for a 110 mil production? Thor 2 is going to crush this next week and it will fade to black. it will be lucky to break 70 mil in us alone.

  • http://twitter.com/JPaulo645 João Paulo

    Thanks Nicole and I agree with you this could difficult to Ender’s survive, but I think the movie have chances to make the same numbers of Elysium.

  • axalon

    Why did they release Thor overseas first?

    • Norrtron

      Marvel has done this with all their movies I believe, don’t know the reason why.

      • Alexander Calvo

        Many big budget studios do this (as an american living in colombia I get to tease my brothers about it lol) I think I’ve heard it’s because if the movies are released in the u.s. first the other countries just pirate them. Which is easy to believe when you can buy pirated new releases on dvds any day of the week just about anywhere in the city. Americans are basically the only people who will see a movie in theaters even if they can just watch a crappy version on dvd.

      • Scurvy

        Alexander might be right but I thought it was because there are less blockbuster releases overseas so they can be more flexible with the release date. They also tend to work releases around international holidays that aren’t celebrated here.

    • Batman

      Because it made 109mill

      • Norrtron

        That’s the result of their decision, not the reason.

  • Chapo_MartinJames ll

    I reckon Thor will make 82-95 million in the opening weekend