BOX OFFICE THUMBNAIL: Out of the Furnace (wide after opening Wednesday in four theaters) looks weak. Inside Llewyn Davis (opened limited in four) is very strong. Thor: The Dark World surpasses $600 million this past week. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Frozen both headed to $30 million weekends.
UPDATE, 10:49 p.m. PST: Based on Friday night ticket sales, Lionsgate’s Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Disney’s Frozen continue to be in a dead heat to claim the weekend’s top box office spot. Catching Fire is now estimated around a $28.3 million weekend while Disney’s Frozen is skating in at $28.2 million and the two films’ per screen averages are almost identical. Inside Llewyn Davis is very strong in its limited bow on 4 screens for CBS Films with a healthy $110,000 per Friday night which brings its estimated per screen for the weekend up to around $86,000. Relativity’s Out of the Furnace is as expected around $6 million for third place and Disney/Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World is in fourth with an estimated $4.4 million as it is expected to push its cume over the $190 million mark. It looks like Disney may have three pictures in the top five this weekend with the Vince Vaughn-starring Delivery Man breaking out of the pack to serve up a $3.3 million to $3.6 million weekend for the studio to pull slightly ahead of Open Road’s Homefront which is a little over $3 million at the moment. It will be interesting to see how much the weather affects attendance for these updated estimates as much of the nation faces ice storms and plunging temperatures.
EARLIER, 5:22 pm PST: This is my first week back reporting on the movie business after a years-long hiatus. There are new execs, the business models have changed (foreign box office has grown in importance, what we used to call the ancillary marketplace – future revenue streams – is different), and as one producer noted, P&A costs now really should be called something else since the rise of digital … so maybe, marketing and distribution costs (M&D). But overall, the game around town is pretty much the same — and that includes box office. But no matter all the jockeying, guesstimating and manipulating, the game of whether a picture beat or didn’t beat expectations (which is all about whether the tracking numbers are good or not), all that matters at the end of the day for a film is the final revenue numbers all totaled.
Behind the scenes, the business has grown a little more sophisticated – or less, depending on your viewpoint – in that distributors now like to offer written “talking points” to journalists (all off the record, of course) to better guide them in their reporting. To those of you who haven’t heard of them, “talking points” are what PR people put together for their clients (executives, talent) to keep them on point and focused to push what the distributor thinks is most important: managing perceptions.
So budget numbers will be fudged and M&D costs will be muddied — all in the hope of hiding the perceived failures or real failures at the box office and to make films look more successful than they are. The domestic box office is one revenue stream and certainly the best bet at recouping your production and M&D costs, but it is not the final factor. READ MORE »