New releases have a habit of floundering in January, which tends to be one of Hollywood's biggest dumping grounds. Even this year's big January horror release, which is commonly a sure thing, floundered. What does tend to do well are the prestige pictures that opened late in the previous year (often in limited release) and finally expand in the new year, riding awards momentum to solid box office.
Of course, this is just a roundabout way of saying that Peter Berg's 'Lone Survivor' emerged from limited release this week to kick everyone's ass at the box office.
Over the past few years, the 'Paranormal Activity' series has established itself as one of the most inexpensive and reliable horror franchises around. Produced for (non-literal) pennies, they've consistently opened strong at the box office, ensuring a fast and efficient turnaround. The latest film, 'Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones,' has already accomplished that goal, but it did so without grabbing the number one spot. Sure, people may love found footage demons, but it turns out that they love animated singing princesses more.
In the weeks following the tragic death of Paul Walker, Universal and the crew of 'Fast and Furious 7' have been forced to drastically course correct the direction of the blockbuster franchise. With little time to mourn and countless jobs and dollars on the line, sources reveal director James Wan, writer Chris Morgan and executive Jeffrey Kirschenbaum will gracefully "retire" Walker's Brian O'Conner from the series using footage already shot for the film.
Although you'd think people would spend the holidays in their homes catching up with their families and what-not, they actually tend to go to the movies after opening gifts and having awkward conversations. And Christmas Day moviegoers had a bunch of options this week, with recent releases (and not-so-recent releases) still going strong and a whole bunch of new releases arriving to coincide with the holiday.
If it's set in Middle Earth, it's going to open at number one. That's common knowledge. The big question is always how big or how small it's going to open at number one. 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' did open at number one this weekend, but it's a number that's going to feel controversial for people who like to bicker about box office numbers. Is it good? Is it bad? Is it disappointing? Honestly, you could make a case for all of those.
The weekend following a major holiday is always a little slow. The boost from vacationing moviegoers is gone, so everyone tends to take a major dip. Some films end up okay. Some die on the vine. This weekend saw two films weather the storm perfectly fine and one new release collapse on the starting line.
Everyone knew that 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' was going to do well this weekend, but the lingering question was always whether or not it was going to do "really, really well" or "stupidly, gobsmackingly well." We should know by now that you always bet on Katniss Everdeen defying the odds, because it was the latter and everyone made it look easy.
If there's one thing that we're reminded of a few times a year here at the Weekend Box Office Report, it's that films targeted at black audiences are always ignored by many mainstream movie websites ... until they open huge at the box office. 'The Best Man Holiday' is the latest film to prove that there's an entire group of moviegoers who aren't being given the films they obviously want to see, and hopefully its success will spur Hollywood into action, allowing for the production of more movies with black casts and filmmakers. Maybe. This is Hollywood, after all.
There was no question of whether or not 'Thor: The Dark World' was going to open at number one this weekend. Of course it was. The big question was whether it would get a post-'Avengers' bump, or if it would do similar business to its 2011 predecessor. Question answered: it got a bump and a pretty good one, too.
After years of struggling against the odds and barely surviving in a rapidly changing world, Blockbuster announced that it's officially set to close the remainder of its US stores. For some, this is a day or mourning. For others, a day of celebration. For all of us, it's just a reminder that the way we consume media has changed so drastically and so quickly that the thought of Blockbuster going out of business would have been unthinkable a decade ago.
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