Weekend Box Office (November 1 - 3, 2013)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND A week before the Hemsworth brothers begin their double feature of November tentpoles, the sci-fi entry Ender's Game opened atop the North American box office and was joined in the top five by fellow new releases Last Vegas and Free Birds, all of which posted moderate or respectable launches.

Debuting to $27M, according to final studio figures, the effects-driven futuristic action pic Ender's Game landed in the number one spot with a performance that was reasonably good, but not especially impressive for an expensive production. Based on the best-selling novel, the PG-13 film averaged $7,930 from 3,407 locations including higher-priced IMAX and other large-format screens. Reviews were mixed for the Lionsgate release and the CinemaScore grade was a middling B+. Tapping into a built-in audience, not having any standout buzz, and facing the arrival of Thor: The Dark World next weekend, Game is not likely to last very long and should finish up with a front-loaded theatrical run. Its cost was estimated to be north of $100M.

Bad Grandpa enjoyed the best second weekend hold ever for a Jackass film dipping only 38% to $20M giving Paramount a healthy $61.6M in ten days. The low-cost $15M comedy should end its domestic run with $100-110M making for yet another profitable installment for the eleven-year-old franchise. Fan feedback has been excellent.

The old timers comedy Last Vegas opened in third pace with $16.3M from 3,065 theaters for a respectable $5,329 average. Starring Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline, the PG-13 film about a group of old friends reuniting for a bachelor party in Sin City played to a mature crowd as expected. Critics were not too impressed, but moviegoers came out for the CBS Films release for the starpower and premise.

Audience data showed that 53% were female and an understandably high 83% were 25 and older. With a promising A- CinemaScore grade, a much older target audience, and no major direct competition coming, Vegas should be able to hold up well throughout the November weeks ahead and reach a domestic gross that doubles the $28M production cost.

2013 has been a tough year for animated films - especially those that are not on the very top tier - and Free Birds was the latest to lack excitement with family audiences. The PG-rated turkey flick debuted to $15.8M from 3,736 theaters for a mild $4,231 average. Relativity had relatively clear sailing for its launch as the only other kidpic out there - Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 - was in its sixth weekend. But the target audience was not excited to spend top dollar for this toon and reviews were lousy.

No animated films open until Thanksgiving so the distributor is hoping that lack of competition will help in the days and weeks ahead. The A- CinemaScore indicates that customers were fairly pleased with their purchase. Even bigger players like DreamWorks, Fox, and Sony have struggled to make toons work this year.

Space juggernaut Gravity fell back to fifth place but still posted a solid frame grossing $12.8M, off 36%, making for the best fifth weekend gross for any film since The Avengers. Warner Bros. has banked a stunning $218.9M to date making it the highest-grossing non-franchise film of 2013, and number eight overall. The Bullock blockbuster also smashed the $200M international and $400M global marks this weekend. The $27M overseas weekend gross pushed the offshore cume to $208M with worldwide climbing up to $427M.

Captain Phillips, another star-driven survival thriller getting Oscar buzz, followed with $8.4M. Down only 28%, the Tom Hanks film stands at $82.5M to date.

Fox Searchlight gave another expansion to its awards hopeful 12 Years A Slave which widened from 123 to 410 theaters and more than doubled its weekend gross in the process. The acclaimed period drama took in $4.8M and posted another promising average with $11,688 putting it in good shape for the road ahead. Many prestige films stumble when expanding to this many markets but Slave is remaining a relevant and much-talked-about film bringing in new audiences thanks in part to stellar reviews. Cume is $9M and next weekend it expands again into roughly 1,000 locations.

Three C's rounded out the top ten. Toon sequel Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 dropped 34% to $4.2M for a $106.1M cume for Sony. Fox's crime drama The Counselor tumbled 57% in its sophomore round to $3.4M putting the total at just $13.8M. Horror flick Carrie grossed $3.3M, down 46%, giving Sony $31.8M to date.

Rachel McAdams saw lackluster results for her latest romance About Time which was given a limited release in only 175 locations this weekend by Universal. The R-rated time travel love story bowed to $1.1M for a mild average of $6,150 which does not bode well for next weekend's nationwide expansion. Reviews have been mixed.

Generating plenty of must-see awards buzz - especially in the acting categories - was Dallas Buyers Club which delivered a superb platform launch over the weekend as the final release for the current incarnation of Focus Features. The Matthew McConaughey film bowed to $260,865 from only nine locations in New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto for a strong $28,985 average. The R-rated true story expands on Friday to a dozen new markets - including Dallas - and will be everywhere by November 22. Reviews were sensational and McConaughey is seen as a major contender for the Academy Award for Best Actor.

A week ahead of its domestic launch, the super hero tentpole Thor: The Dark World opened across much of the planet this weekend taking in a sensational $109.4M from 36 markets led by $13.4M in the U.K. The second Thor flick lands in over 3,800 North American theaters this Friday (with first shows beginning at 8:00pm on Thursday night) and has scared away all other new wide releases. China also opens next weekend so the global tally will soar by the end of next weekend.

The top ten films grossed $116M which was down 2% from last year when Wreck-it Ralph opened at number one with $49M; but up 16% from 2011 when Puss in Boots stayed in the top spot with $33.1M in its second weekend.

Compared to projections, Ender's Game and Last Vegas both opened very close to my respective forecasts of $27M and $15M while Free Birds came in above my $11M prediction.

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

Watch the NEW trailer for The Wolf of Wall Street.

For a NEW review of Thor: The Dark World visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Thor: The Dark World opens as the frame's solo player.

# Title Nov 1 - 3 Oct 25 - 27 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Ender's Game $ 27,017,351 3,407 1 $ 7,930 $ 27,017,351 Lionsgate
2 Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa 20,010,303 32,055,177 -37.6 3,345 2 5,982 61,568,639 Paramount
3 Last Vegas 16,334,566 3,065 1 5,329 16,334,566 CBS
4 Free Birds 15,805,237 3,736 1 4,231 15,805,237 Relativity
5 Gravity 12,825,346 20,135,387 -36.3 3,024 5 4,241 218,891,359 Warner Bros.
6 Captain Phillips 8,407,725 11,642,040 -27.8 3,021 4 2,783 82,458,232 Sony
7 12 Years A Slave 4,792,214 2,134,325 124.5 410 3 11,688 8,952,538 Fox Searchlight
8 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 4,150,983 6,275,325 -33.9 2,430 6 1,708 106,146,160 Sony
9 The Counselor 3,379,850 7,842,930 -56.9 3,044 2 1,110 13,767,359 Fox
10 Carrie 3,263,524 5,988,713 -45.5 2,252 3 1,449 31,836,412 Sony
11 Escape Plan 2,271,200 4,558,239 -50.2 1,966 3 1,155 21,590,946 Lionsgate
12 Enough Said 1,086,284 1,588,004 -31.6 662 7 1,641 14,809,964 Fox Searchlight
13 About Time 1,076,250 175 1 6,150 1,076,250 Universal
14 All is Lost 569,838 503,178 13.2 130 3 4,383 1,433,530 Roadside Attr.
15 Despicable Me 2 423,340 390,370 8.4 309 18 1,370 364,774,325 Universal
16 We're the Millers 413,159 582,445 -29.1 555 13 744 149,221,405 Warner Bros.
17 Insidious Chapter 2 408,149 880,293 -53.6 553 8 738 82,820,580 FilmDistrict
18 Prisoners 401,278 1,068,339 -62.4 465 7 863 59,949,885 Warner Bros.
19 Rush 340,910 700,695 -51.3 303 7 1,125 26,491,919 Universal
20 Planes 264,055 242,498 8.9 289 13 914 89,330,810 Disney
Top 5 $ 91,992,803 $ 77,950,859 18.0
Top 10 115,987,099 93,288,479 24.3
Top 20 123,241,562 99,038,828 24.4
Top 20 vs. 2012 123,241,562 134,540,174 -8.4

Last Updated: November 5, 2013 at 4:00PM ET

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

©1997 - 2013 Box Office Guru