Weekend Box Office (January 31 - February 2, 2014)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Moviegoing took a backseat to football as the North American box office slumped to its worst performance in over four months with the hit comedy Ride Along ruling the chart for a third week in a row. The animated smash Frozen enjoyed an uptick in business, thanks in part to a new sing-along version, and rose to second place. The weekend's new releases failed to generate much business and most holdovers averaged below $3,000 as the marketplace struggled to attract audiences.

Sitting pretty at number one for a third time were Kevin Hart and Ice Cube with Ride Along which witnessed a moderate 42% drop to an estimated $12.3M. Universal has collected an impressive $93M after 17 days and the PG-13 film has now become the highest-grossing film of all-time for each actor in a lead role. Finishing in the neighborhood of $125M seems likely.

In its tenth weekend of wide release, Disney's runaway hit Frozen climbed up to number two grossing an estimated $9.3M, according to estimates. The snow sisters got some help from the studio launching a special sing-along version this weekend featuring the words to all the hit songs. Music has been a key driving force for the business with the soundtrack hitting number one for three weeks - the first for any movie soundtrack in over a decade. The gross was up 2% from last weekend despite the theater count staying mostly the same.

Winning five Annie Awards this weekend including Best Animated Feature, Frozen upped its domestic haul to an eye-popping $360M putting it at number 26 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters passing the $352.4M of 2011's Transformers: Dark of the Moon. A domestic final of $390M+ seems possible with its long-lasting legs, although the release of The Lego Movie on Friday will surely steal away the attention of kids.

The Oscar-nominated toon's international run continued on its collision course with the one billion dollar mark. Overseas markets grossed $24M this weekend allowing the offshore haul to crack the $500M barrier. With $504.4M internationally and $864.4M worldwide so far, Frozen opens in China next weekend and then Japan on March 15.

The newly-designed Focus opened the buddy comedy That Awkward Moment but was met with lousy results with an estimated $9M opening weekend. Averaging a soft $3,208 from 2,809 locations, the R-rated film starring Zac Efron connected with its target audience of young women, but didn't draw a sizable number of them to the multiplexes. Harsh reviews hurt and there was little starpower in the cast outside of the former Disney star.

Studio research showed that 64% of the audience was female and 61% were under 25. Typically, young females are the quadrant least interested in the Super Bowl so Hollywood routinely targets them over this particular weekend. But normally stronger results are achieved. Awkward's CinemaScore grade was a lukewarm B. The low-budget film only cost $8M to produce with Focus (and its former FilmDistrict side) paying $1.5M to acquire, plus marketing costs.

The animated comedy The Nut Job dropped to an estimated $7.6M, down 37%, and has given Open Road a solid $50.2M to date. Falling 44% to an estimated $7.2M was Mark Wahlberg's war story Lone Survivor which has collected an impressive $104.9M for Universal. It became the first wide opener of 2014 to enter the century club and should have 30 or so more joining it by year's end.

Not living up to the standards set by its predecessors, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit took in an estimated $5.4M, off 41%, for a weak $39M cume for Paramount. It will easily end as the lowest-grossing installment in the five-film series despite having the highest ticket prices.

Failing to lure in mature women, the Kate Winslet-Josh Brolin drama Labor Day flopped in seventh with a puny $5.3M, according to estimates. Paramount's poorly-reviewed new entry from writer/director Jason Reitman averaged a dull $2,051 from 2,584 theaters and generated no excitement with its target audience, or beyond. Those who did pay to see it were unsatisfied as it earned a lackluster B- CinemaScore grade. Adult dramas with Oscar buzz and terrific reviews provided tough competition.

Academy Award hopeful American Hustle followed with an estimated $4.3M, off 39%, for a new cume of $133.6M for Sony. It is now the top-grossing film ever for director David O. Russell surpassing the $132.1M of last year's Silver Linings Playbook. Martin Scorsese's rival Best Picture contender The Wolf of Wall Street dropped 35% to an estimated $3.6M lifting the total for Paramount to $104.1M.

Action-horror hybrid I, Frankenstein tumbled 59% in its second weekend, to no surprise, and grossed an estimated $3.5M. The Lionsgate release has taken in only $14.5M in ten days and is headed for a weak final of about $20M.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $67.5M which was up 4% from last year when Warm Bodies opened at number one with $20.4M; but down 23% from 2012 when Chronicle debuted in the top spot with $22M.

Compared to projections, That Awkward Moment opened a few notches below my forecast of $13M and Labor Day debuted close to my $7M prediction.

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 NEW Frozen Sing-Along video for "Let It Go".

Be sure to check back on Monday for final figures and again on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Lego Movie, The Monuments Men, and Vampire Academy all open.

# Title Jan 31 - Feb 2 Jan 24 - 26 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Ride Along $ 12,035,720 $ 21,299,495 -43.5 2,867 3 $ 4,198 $ 92,698,470 Universal
2 Frozen 8,933,513 9,118,806 -2.0 2,754 11 3,244 359,635,842 Disney
3 That Awkward Moment 8,742,109 2,809 1 3,112 8,742,109 Focus
4 The Nut Job 7,278,450 12,101,118 -39.9 3,472 3 2,096 49,911,445 Open Road
5 Lone Survivor 7,096,330 12,900,960 -45.0 3,285 6 2,160 104,789,886 Universal
6 Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit 5,310,447 9,084,687 -41.5 2,907 3 1,827 38,878,417 Paramount
7 Labor Day 5,175,282 2,584 1 2,003 5,175,282 Paramount
8 American Hustle 4,160,234 7,061,676 -41.1 2,216 8 1,877 133,481,413 Sony
9 I, Frankenstein 3,754,423 8,610,441 -56.4 2,753 2 1,364 14,724,493 Lionsgate
10 The Wolf of Wall Street 3,400,780 5,478,368 -37.9 1,607 6 2,116 103,927,541 Paramount
11 August: Osage County 2,952,698 5,029,030 -41.3 2,319 6 1,273 31,580,844 Weinstein Co.
12 Gravity 2,063,212 2,025,493 1.9 1,132 18 1,823 264,030,558 Warner Bros.
13 12 Years a Slave 1,442,164 2,031,316 -29.0 1,172 16 1,231 45,850,559 Fox Searchlight
14 Dallas Buyers Club 1,363,086 2,028,570 -32.8 1,052 14 1,296 22,542,486 Focus
15 Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug 1,235,102 2,147,414 -42.5 933 8 1,324 254,264,916 Warner Bros.
16 Her 1,189,397 2,289,318 -48.0 803 7 1,481 21,236,913 Warner Bros.
17 Nebraska 1,142,673 1,552,426 -26.4 875 12 1,306 13,659,571 Paramount
18 Saving Mr. Banks 1,069,136 2,080,948 -48.6 1,075 8 995 81,042,113 Disney
19 Devil's Due 1,034,167 2,786,341 -62.9 1,290 3 802 14,790,035 Fox
20 Philomena 965,107 1,075,904 -10.3 567 11 1,702 27,380,353 Weinstein Co.
Top 5 $ 44,086,122 $ 64,505,066 -31.7
Top 10 65,887,288 93,470,922 -29.5
Top 20 80,344,030 111,475,088 -27.9
Top 20 vs. 2013 80,344,030 81,511,306 -1.4

Last Updated: February 2, 2014 at 3:25PM 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