For those who overlooked the record-breaking success of The Hunger Games one year ago, it was a great weekend at the US box office. Two of the three new releases exceeded expectations, with Olympus Has Fallen nearly doubling studio projections. Only the Tina Fey comedy Admission stumbled – barely topping what Spring Breakers brought in from half as many locations.
|2.||Olympus Has Fallen||$30,500,000||$30.5|
|3.||Oz the Great and Powerful||$22,031,700||$177.5|
|7.||The Incredible Burt Wonderstone||$4,275,000||$17.3|
|8.||Jack the Giant Slayer||$2,965,000||$59|
At another time, this weekend’s overall gross would be seen in negative terms. After all, the top ten films combined don’t equal last year’s singular hit: The Hunger Games. Thanks to that outsized-debut, 2013 will have to swallow another big year-to-year loss; though pointing that out seems a bit cruel on one of the healthiest frames of an otherwise anemic year. So, putting Katniss aside, it is my pleasure to point out that, for the first time in twelve weeks, the box office has produced two viable hits on the same weekend.
First up, The Croods. Given 2013’s surprising lack of family fare, The DreamWorks Animation title was almost guaranteed to take first place this weekend. Even with a wide-open field, however, the studio’s follow-up to Rise of the Guardians was not expected to exceed $40 million. But The Croods proved far more capable than DWA’s last release: earning an estimated $44.7 million from 4,046 locations (74% of those in 3D). That is one million more than How to Train Your Dragon (another DreamWorks release) earned in March of 2010, though, given the current state of 3D entertainment, it seems unlikely that The Croods will enjoy the kind of week-to-week holds that Dragon ultimately did.
2013 has had just one debut that topped The Croods – Oz the Great and Powerful. After three weeks, the Disney pic is still potent at number three, with a domestic total of $177 million and over $300 million worldwide. But, where Oz had its debut weekend all to itself, this particular frame stood out by making room for more than one success story.
Olympus Has Fallen debuted in second place with an estimated $30.5 million from 3,098 runs. Earlier this week, the R-rated action thriller was projected to open in the high teens or low twenties, making its actual number a welcome surprise for FilmDistrict. Known primarily for smaller films like Drive and The Rum Diary, Olympus Has Fallen is, by far, the biggest debut in the studio’s history. Gerard Butler must also be happy this morning, considering that Olympus Has Fallen is the highest opening the actor has seen since 2007’s 300.
Of course, it wouldn’t feel like 2013 if the box office didn’t offer up at least one stark disappointment. This week, that honor goes to Admission. The comedy starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd opened with an estimated $6.4 million from 2,160 locations, instead of the $10 million its studio hoped for. That is less than Rudd realized from notable duds like Wanderlust and How Do You Know, and is down 97% (!) from Fey’s last live-action debut in 2010’s Date Night.
Though it ceded fifth place to Admission after Friday, Spring Breakers has nothing to be ashamed of this weekend. The much-hyped indie hit expanded to 1,104 locations, and earned an estimated $5 million in the process. The film’s per-screen average of $4,529 does pale in comparison to the $87,766 it earned from each of its three engagements one week ago, but Spring Breakers still beat out Admission in terms of attendance.
After this mostly-positive frame, I feel a mostly-negative cloud gathering over next weekend’s box office. Next Thursday will see the long-awaited release of G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Though the sequel is expected to earn over $45 million, that won’t be enough to top 2012’s overall total. Again.