Weekend Box Office (January 24 - 26, 2014)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND It was a sluggish session at the North American box office as Hollywood offered just one new movie which was rejected by audiences allowing the top five to be filled by the same faces as last week. The action-horror thriller I, Frankenstein flopped while the hit buddy comedy Ride Along once again took first place for a second weekend in a row with a reasonably good hold. Moviegoers did spend some time sampling the Academy Award nominees for Best Picture as eight of the nine contenders found themselves in the Top 20.

Kevin Hart and Ice Cube once again ruled the box office with their runaway hit Ride Along which collected $21.3M in its sophomore round easily beating all competitors according to final studio figures. The Universal hit dropped 49% which was a decent hold considering it was coming off of a holiday weekend when Sunday numbers were stronger than usual. With a robust $75.5M grossed in the first ten days, look for the PG-13 film to end up with roughly $125M which would be a career high for each star in a lead role, and also five times bigger than its $25M production cost. Ride Along is also set to soar higher than many of last year's big comedy titles like This is the End, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa and The Hangover Part III and will reach the same vicinity as Anchorman 2.

Mark Wahlberg and his fellow soldiers held their ground in second with Lone Survivor which fell back 42% to $12.9M in its third round of wide release. The Universal hit has grossed an impressive $93.9M and will cross the $100M mark before the Super Bowl. The studio is off to a fantastic start in 2014 topping the charts over the last three weeks with two films about to join the century club.

Advertising itself as the #1 family movie in America, the animated comedy The Nut Job finished its second weekend in third place with $12.1M after a good hold that saw sales drop just 38%. The Open Road release has banked $40.1M in ten days and could be headed for a $75M final. A sequel has already been announced and will follow the same release pattern opening over the Martin Luther King holiday in 2016.

Toon juggernaut, and double Oscar nominee, Frozen enjoyed great stamina again dipping only 23% to $9.1M in its ninth weekend of wide release boosting the remarkable domestic haul up to $347.9M. Next weekend, Disney will replace over 1,000 of the runs with a new sing-along version of the popular film in hopes of generating even more repeat business.

Frozen now sits at number 27 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters just two spots behind last year's sensation Despicable Me 2 which had the added advantage of being a sequel playing in summer when kids were out of school. The snow sisters will surpass the Minions in a couple of weeks to steal away the animated box office crown for 2013. Frozen also zoomed past the $800M global mark this weekend with a worldwide tally of $810M and counting. With China and Japan still to open, breaking the billion dollar mark is looking more and more likely.

The CIA reboot Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit followed its weak opening weekend with a moderate 41% decline to $9.1M for a disappointing ten-day take of $30.5M. With a reported production cost of $60M, the Paramount release should end its domestic run with only $50M or so. Overseas sales, though, are at a respectable $46.5M early in its run with nearly half coming from China.

Moviegoers showed no interest in paying to see the new monster movie I, Frankenstein which opened poorly in sixth place with $8.6M. Averaging a weak $3,128 from 2,753 locations, the PG-13 film starring Aaron Eckhart failed to generate much heat and the higher-priced 3D and IMAX options did not seem to be premium experiences that ticket buyers felt like spending cash for on this particular title. The opening was even worse than the $11.2M debut of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein from back in 1994 when tickets cost half as much as today.

Films like I, Frankenstein used to be able to count on teen males to turn out. But that demo's lower attendance today (especially for non-tentpoles) is once again hurting big-budget action films. This one reportedly cost $65M to produce. Lionsgate research showed that 60% of the audience was over 25 and 62% was male. The CinemaScore grade was a B which was decent for this genre of action-horror fare. But past films of this category have opened much better like Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters' $19.7M from this same weekend last year and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter's $16.3M.

A handful of Oscar nominees caught business from the public led by American Hustle with $7.1M, off just 28%, for a strong $127M cume to date for Sony. Paramount's The Wolf of Wall Street followed dipping 23% to $5.5M as well raising the total to $98.5M. Later this week it will become the fourth consecutive $100M+ grosser for the dynamic duo of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo Dicaprio.

The Weinstein Co. added 360 theaters to the run of August: Osage County and saw sales dip 32% to $5M. Sum to date is $26.5M. Rounding out the top ten with $2.8M was the fright flop Devil's Due which tumbled 67% in its second weekend. The Fox release has scared up a lousy $12.9M in ten days and should end off with only $17M.

The seven remaining Oscar nominees for Best Picture not in the top ten were all still out in national release looking to cash in on the awards attention with some adding screens. Dallas Buyers Club expanded by 691 theaters more than doubling its run and saw a 116% spike to $2M this weekend and $20.4M to date for Focus. Fox Searchlight's 12 Years a Slave, seen by many as the one to beat, widened by 470 locations and grossed $2M, up 32%. Total is now $43.5M heading to $50M+.

Adding 316 runs was Gravity which rose 9% to $2M for a new total of $261.2M. The Warner Bros. smash earned the prestigious DGA Award on Saturday for director Alfonso Cuaron. Paramount's black-and-white film Nebraska more than doubled its run adding 560 extra screens and collected $1.6M - the biggest weekend gross yet of its 11-week run. Cume is $11.7M.

The offbeat romance Her with Joaquin Phoenix and the voice of Scarlett Johansson lost 404 locations and fell 43% to $2.3M giving Warner Bros. $19.2M overall. Judi Dench's Philomena held steady in 505 locations and took in $1.1M, off 15%, for a $25.8M total. After an expansion last weekend, Captain Phillips lost two-thirds of its screens and collected $312,133, down 40%, for a $106.2M cume.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $93.5M which was up 15% from last year when Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters opened at number one with $19.7M; but up 2% from 2012 when The Grey debuted in the top spot with $19.7M as well.

Compared to projections, I, Frankenstein opened with half of my $17M forecast.

Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.

Check the UPDATED box office chart of Oscar nominations and grosses.

Watch the trailer for The Raid 2.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when That Awkward Moment and Labor Day both open.

# Title Jan 24 - 26 Jan 17 - 19 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Ride Along $ 21,299,495 $ 41,516,170 -48.7 2,759 2 $ 7,720 $ 75,544,805 Universal
2 Lone Survivor 12,900,960 22,058,815 -41.5 3,162 5 4,080 93,914,921 Universal
3 The Nut Job 12,101,118 19,423,000 -37.7 3,472 2 3,485 40,056,363 Open Road
4 Frozen 9,118,806 11,771,854 -22.5 2,757 10 3,308 347,899,011 Disney
5 Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit 9,084,687 15,451,981 -41.2 3,387 2 2,682 30,452,820 Paramount
6 I, Frankenstein 8,610,441 2,753 1 3,128 8,610,441 Lionsgate
7 American Hustle 7,061,676 9,866,363 -28.4 2,304 7 3,065 127,000,429 Sony
8 The Wolf of Wall Street 5,478,368 7,069,383 -22.5 1,804 5 3,037 98,508,822 Paramount
9 August: Osage County 5,029,030 7,364,721 -31.7 2,411 5 2,086 26,514,531 Weinstein Co.
10 Devil's Due 2,786,341 8,308,220 -66.5 2,544 2 1,095 12,922,304 Fox
11 Her 2,289,318 4,034,417 -43.3 1,325 6 1,728 19,179,726 Warner Bros.
12 Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug 2,147,414 3,704,957 -42.0 1,285 7 1,671 252,326,338 Warner Bros.
13 Saving Mr. Banks 2,080,948 3,915,229 -46.8 1,660 7 1,254 79,158,310 Disney
14 12 Years a Slave 2,031,316 1,539,838 31.9 1,231 15 1,650 43,560,133 Fox Searchlight
15 Dallas Buyers Club 2,028,570 941,207 115.5 1,110 13 1,828 20,357,277 Focus
16 Gravity 2,025,493 1,867,037 8.5 1,260 17 1,608 261,208,962 Warner Bros.
17 Nebraska 1,552,426 883,208 75.8 968 11 1,604 11,720,400 Paramount
18 Hunger Games: Catching Fire 1,539,949 2,451,181 -37.2 1,051 10 1,465 420,021,917 Lionsgate
19 The Legend of Hercules 1,232,828 3,397,143 -63.7 1,371 3 899 17,045,036 Lionsgate
20 Philomena 1,075,904 1,261,381 -14.7 505 10 2,131 25,814,483 Weinstein Co.
Top 5 $ 64,505,066 $ 110,221,820 -41.5
Top 10 93,470,922 146,864,924 -36.4
Top 20 111,475,088 169,869,603 -34.4
Top 20 vs. 2013 111,475,088 104,728,398 6.4

Last Updated: January 27, 2014 at 4:55PM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Thursday at 6:40pm ET.

©1997 - 2014 Box Office Guru