Here’s your 3-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Ride Along – $ 12.3 million
2. Frozen – $ 9.3 million
3. That Awkward Moment – $ 9.0 million
4. The Nut Job – $ 7.6 million
5. Lone Survivor – $ 7.1 million
6. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – $ 5.4 million
7. Labor Day – $ 5.3 million
8. American Hustle – $ 4.3 million
9. The Wolf of Wall Street – $ 3.55 million
10. I, Frankenstein – $ 3.52 million
The Big Stories
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Fast and Furious 6, Gravity, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and Ride Along. Those are your last five films to rule the box office for three straight weekends. Interesting list, right? That’s what happens when word of mouth takes over. Or there’s nothing out worth seeing. A film hasn’t taken three straight weekends in January since Avatar. Ride Along and Avatar..there’s a trivia question for you. How else is anyone going to remember a movie named Ride Along existed? Other than those at Universal and those whose memories are sparked when Ride Along 2 comes out in a year or two.
Riding Along Into January History
Tim Story’s film owns the highest grossing opening weekend ever in January. Soon he’s going to own the second highest grossing film to ever open in January. Forget the films that open limited the previous year and find their stride when they finally open the next month. Like Lone Survivor and the $ 100 million it made last month.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop ($ 146.3 million), Taken ($ 145.0), The Green Hornet ($ 98.7), The Book of Eli ($ 94.8), Ride Along ($ 92.9), Save the Last Dance ($ 91.0), Along Came Polly ($ 88.09), The Hand That Rocks the Cradle ($ 88.03), Are We There Yet? ($ 82.6), Snow Dogs ($ 81.1),
Two Ice Cube movies and a Cuba Gooding Jr. movie in the snow. That’s what we get in January, America. And you go see it. You have to stop that. Otherwise you get movies like…
That Awkward Moment
That should be the title of the next meeting that Jason Reitman has at Paramount when he asks them why they buried his latest movie. After back-to-back Best Picture nominees, Juno and Up in the Air grossing $ 143 million and $ 83 million, respectively, Paramount barely released Young Adult in theaters and may have cost Charlize Theron an Oscar nomination for it. $ 16.3 million on no more than 987 theaters in 2011 looks pretty good compared to the paltry $ 5.3 million that Labor Day opened to on nearly 2600 screens. The film may actually be lucky to match Young Adult’s limited release revenue.
While Paramount can certainly say they made Labor Day available throughout the country (on more screens than Juno or Up in the Air ever did) they certainly did nothing to gain favor with critics or award voters. Even with decent, if mixed, critical responses from Telluride and Toronto (the film hovered around 65% at Rotten Tomatoes), no screeners were sent of the film during awards time. No screenings were set in major markets to ensure the film a chance. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association may have nominated Kate Winslet for a Golden Globe but they just wanted her to show up at the TV show and probably got a truckload of peach pies for their effort. Labor Day does currently rank as the worst-reviewed film of Jason’s career (34% at RT) but those that like it, really like it, and those that don’t, well, maybe next time Paramount will want to put up more confidence instead of treating it like a red-headed stepchild under the sink.
Oh Yeah, That Other Movie
There actually was a film called That Awkward Moment that opened this weekend. It seems some prognosticators still believed in Zac Efron opening a movie. His two big post-High School Musical 3 features, 17 Again ($ 23.7 million) and The Lucky One ($ 22.5 million) opened very well and each grossed over $ 60 million. 2012 was the last Efron starring vehicle to open wide and That Awkward Moment is going to open to less than half that and then some. Perhaps audiences have forgotten about Efron already or maybe they just weren’t too keen on another movie promising to spill the truth about what guys talk about behind closed doors. Never fall for that ploy. For one, there have already been countless other movies made about how guys talk and interact with each other and with women not made from a co-producer of Movie 43. Secondly, all the secrets are already out there. It’s no secret that January was a pretty good start to the year box office-wise, but horrible if you were looking for a good movie that hadn’t already opened in December.
Erik Childress can be seen each Thursday morning on WCIU-TV’s First Business breaking down the box office on the Movies & Money segment.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]