Weekend Box Office (February 15 - 18, 2013)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND The four-day Presidents' Day holiday frame saw three films generate $24-29M in ticket sales but the action sequel A Good Day to Die Hard made enough to earn the number one spot. Comedy holdover Identity Thief dropped to second place while the new romance Safe Haven bowed in third. Overall box office was down from last year's robust holiday while Oscar contenders for Best Picture remained popular with moviegoers looking for quality cinema.

Bruce Willis anchored his first solo number one hit in thirteen years with his return as John McClane in A Good Day to Die Hard which grossed $28.6M over the extended Friday-to-Monday period, according to final studio figures. The R-rated Fox release averaged a good but not stellar $8,061 over four days from 3,553 locations and grossed $36.9M since its Thursday launch on Valentine's Day. The five-day debut ended up $11.5M less than the $48.4M five-day Wednesday-to-Sunday opening of the last film in the series, Live Free or Die Hard from June 2007 which was the only PG-13 chapter in the series. The new Russian-set story enjoyed higher ticket prices plus some IMAX premiums. The prior film, 1995's Die Hard with a Vengeance, bowed to $22.2M which would be roughly $40M at today's prices.

Reviews were dreadful for the poorly-titled Good Day, easily the worst ever for the quarter-century-old franchise. The story found the wisecracking cop heading to Moscow to help his son, a CIA agent in trouble with master criminals. Older action heroes have been rejected by audiences lately with both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone striking out in recent weeks with The Last Stand and Bullet to the Head, respectively. But based on his most popular character, Bruce saw more box office on his opening day of Die Hard than those films took in on their entire opening weekends.

A Good Day to Die Hard skewed as expected to older men. Studio research showed that 55% of the crowd was male and 65% was 25 and older. The CinemaScore grade was a respectable B+. While domestic interest in Die Hard has cooled, overseas numbers were hot. The fifth Die Hard grossed $61.5M from 63 markets this weekend upping the international total to $80.1M including some Asian markets like Korea and Taiwan which debuted last weekend. Leading the way were the U.K. with $7.6M, Japan with $6.8M, Russia's $6.7M, and Germany with $6.4M. Korea stands at $8.8M after its sophomore frame with France and Brazil opening next weekend plus China and Australia launching in March. Many Latin American markets more than doubled the openings of the last Die Hard. A final worldwide cume of over $350M is possible for the new pic. Action franchises like these usually continue on thanks in large part to overseas revenue potential.

Last weekend's muscular number one smash Identity Thief found another sizable audience in its second round with $27.5M over four days for an encouraging decline of only 32% across the Friday-to-Sunday period. Universal has amassed a sizable $74.7M in 11 days and could be headed for a finish in the vicinity of $130M. That is an impressive amount for a film that cost only $35M to produce.

Young women propelled the new romance Safe Haven into third place with $24.5M from 3,223 theaters for a solid $7,592 average over the four-day holiday period. The Relativity release debuted at number one on Thursday with $8.8M because of Valentine's Day but held its own over the weekend too leading to a $33.3M five-day start from Thursday-to-Monday - just $3.6M behind the much more expensive Die Hard.

Reviews were dreadful, but that is common for romance movies based on Nicholas Sparks novels. Starring Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough, the PG-13 film played to an audience that was 71% female and 68% under 25. Safe Haven's four-day start was about even with the $30.5M three-day debut of 2010's Dear John, also based on a Sparks book, which had much more starpower with Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried.

The Weinstein Co. scored a victory in fourth place with the 3D animated film Escape From Planet Earth which bowed to $21.1M over the four days since its Friday debut. With zero kidpics released by studios so far this year, the PG-rated toon had the family market all to itself and averaged a decent $6,418 from 3,288 locations. The CinemaScore was a B+.

Hollywood has programmed an excessive number of R-rated action films into the first two months of the year to go along with the string of adult-skewing Oscar contenders which have been mostly rated R. That created a huge void for this segment of the audience and with schools off for the long holiday frame, parents had no other options. The performance of Escape was especially good for a movie not based on a well-known brand, not from a big supplier of animated movies like Pixar or DreamWorks, and not featuring any major names in the voice cast. The Monday holiday should add plenty more for the long four-day weekend. Reviews were poor.

The hit zombie romance Warm Bodies scored a hot sophomore frame dipping only 22% against stiff competition collecting $10.6M. The Summit film has now grossed a stellar $51.8M in just 18 days and should continue to see much more thanks to terrific word-of-mouth. Picking up lost business due to last weekend's east coast blizzard played a factor, but audiences are liking this unique story which is becoming a sleeper hit.

Bodies may have siphoned off some of the target audience for the supernatural tale Beautiful Creatures which bombed debuting to just $8.9M from 2,950 locations for a weak $3,032 average across four days. Taking in $11.5M since its Thursday release, the PG-13 film based on the best-selling young adult novel hoped to connect with young women. But competition was tough and reviews were not encouraging. A middling B CinemaScore does not bode well for a teen-skewing film made to make most of its money upfront.

Best Picture contender Silver Linings Playbook once again eased by a scant amount. The Weinstein Co. hit grossed $7.4M, off only 3%, for a $99.8M total. It will pass the $100M mark on Tuesday. That would bring the total number of Best Picture nominees in the century club to a new industry record of six. Steven Soderbergh's drama Side Effects enjoyed a decent hold in its second weekend dipping 33% (comparing three-day periods) to $7.3M pushing the 11-day cume to $20.1M for Open Road.

Falling to $4.2M was Paramount's Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters which has banked $50.4M to date. Rounding out the top ten was Oscar contender Zero Dark Thirty which slipped to $3.6M giving Sony $88.5M overall.

In the final full weekend before the Academy Awards, moviegoers kept sampling all the major contenders with four more Best Picture nominees filling up spots on the chart with small declines. Front-runner Argo dipped only 8% to $2.6M putting Warner Bros. at $127.3M domestically and $205M worldwide. The Ben Affleck hit lands on Blu-ray this Tuesday and is preparing itself for a new audience on multiple platforms should it win Best Picture next Sunday. Lincoln, another big player, eased 13% to $2.1M for a cume to date of $176.7M. Worldwide is $236M.

Ang Lee's Life of Pi declined by only 10% in its 13th weekend to $2.1M for $111.4M so far in North America and a stunning $577M globally. The Weinstein Co. collected $1.9M for Django Unchained, down 34%, with $157.4M domestic to date. Worldwide is now up to $366M. Les Misérables suffered the worst drop of any Best Picture contender falling 45% to $1.1M with $145.8M overall. Sony Classics expanded the French-language hit Amour and saw sales surge 87% to $858,412. Cume is $4.1M.

All eight Best Picture contenders that are still in theaters now finished in the Top 20 this weekend. The nine nominees together have grossed a whopping $922M domestically and an eye-popping $2 billion worldwide. Oscar ratings should see a boost this year since so many movie fans have actually seen so many of the top contenders.

The top ten films grossed $143.7M over four days which was down 13% from last year's Presidents' Day frame when Safe House climbed into the number one spot with $27.5M; and down 5% from 2011 when Unknown debuted in the top spot with $25.5M.

Compared to Friday-to-Monday projections, A Good Day to Die Hard opened below my $33M forecast and Safe Haven went ahead of my $21M prediction. Escape From Planet Earth doubled my $10M projection while Beautiful Creatures bowed well below my $16M forecast.

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Check the UPDATED chart of Oscar nominees and grosses.

Watch the NEW featurette for Star Trek Into Darkness. Read the NEW Blu-ray review of Peter Pan.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Snitch and Dark Skies open.

# Title Feb 15 - 18 Feb 8 - 10 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 A Good Day to Die Hard $ 28,640,657 3,553 1 $ 8,061 $ 36,879,773 Fox
2 Identity Thief 27,456,470 34,551,025 -20.5 3,165 2 8,675 74,744,255 Universal
3 Safe Haven 24,469,155 3,223 1 7,592 33,298,073 Relativity
4 Escape From Planet Earth 21,101,976 3,288 1 6,418 21,101,976 Weinstein Co.
5 Warm Bodies 10,550,103 11,356,090 -7.1 2,897 3 3,642 51,770,634 Summit
6 Beautiful Creatures 8,945,261 2,950 1 3,032 11,487,578 Warner Bros.
7 Silver Linings Playbook 7,413,756 6,425,271 15.4 2,202 14 3,367 99,788,228 Weinstein Co.
8 Side Effects 7,299,145 9,303,145 -21.5 2,605 2 2,802 20,119,981 Open Road
9 Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters 4,176,456 5,753,165 -27.4 2,103 4 1,986 50,405,251 Paramount
10 Zero Dark Thirty 3,602,315 4,006,860 -10.1 1,522 9 2,367 88,530,983 Sony
11 Mama 3,081,765 4,229,665 -27.1 1,648 5 1,870 68,561,940 Universal
12 Argo 2,625,357 2,375,344 10.5 903 19 2,907 127,288,409 Warner Bros.
13 Life of Pi 2,074,617 1,745,744 18.8 647 13 3,207 111,376,518 Fox
14 Lincoln 2,063,120 1,873,537 10.1 1,007 15 2,049 176,651,047 Disney
15 Django Unchained 1,857,164 2,303,495 -19.4 1,017 8 1,826 157,350,147 Weinstein Co.
16 Quartet 1,624,647 940,930 72.7 333 5 4,879 7,200,664 Weinstein Co.
17 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 1,276,940 1,468,374 -13.0 605 8 2,111 300,161,285 Warner Bros.
18 Wreck-It Ralph 1,102,070 1,065,817 3.4 506 16 2,178 185,835,929 Disney
19 Les Misérables 1,098,445 1,555,550 -29.4 676 8 1,625 145,764,425 Universal
20 Amour 858,412 376,233 128.2 306 9 2,805 4,081,541 Sony Classics
Top 5 $ 112,218,361 $ 67,388,696 66.5
Top 10 143,655,294 82,382,252 74.4
Top 20 161,317,831 96,894,712 66.5
Top 20 vs. Prez Day 2012 161,317,831 183,501,639 -12.1

Last Updated: February 19, 2013 at 6:20PM ET

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