Real Life, Real Oscar Potential

Weinstein's 'August: Osage County' leads in Golden Globes expansions

Universal’s Navy SEALs action-drama “Lone Survivor” led the domestic box office charge this weekend, estimating $38.5 million, making it the second-highest opening for a wide release or expansion ever in January.

The commanding performance for “Lone Survivor,” which just trails the January record set by “Cloverfield” in 2008 (with $40.1 million), still was unable to lift the weekend box office ahead of this time last year, as totals trailed that frame by roughly 5%.

Still, the Mark Wahlberg starrer easily knocked Disney’s family steamroller “Frozen” from the top spot after the film’s fourth-frame resurgence lat weekend to No. 1. “Frozen” fell to second place, though it still grossed a remarkable $15.1 million in its seventh weekend of wide release, down just 22%, for a Stateside cume of $317.7 million.

Internationally, “Frozen,” which earned $27.8 million from 50 markets, usurped Warner Bros.’ long-held overseas champ “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” grossing a second-place ranking $22.2 million in its fifth frame. “Frozen” reached $712.3 million globally; “The Hobbit,” meanwhile, crossed the $800 million worldwide mark.

The weekend’s only other U.S. nationwide bow, Lionsgate-Summit’s “The Legend of Hercules,” grossed a meager, though expected, $8.6 million. The studio has minimal exposure on the film, which was produced and financed by Millennium Films for a reported $70 million; Summit acquired Stateside distribution rights to the film last November.

Doing their part in the lead-up to Sunday’s Golden Globes telecast, several awards contenders had wide expansions this weekend. The best of the bunch was the Weinstein Co.’s “August: Osage County,” which expanded to 905 locations, up from just five, for a three-day estimate of $7.3 million and a domestic cume nearing $8 million.

Warner Bros., meanwhile, expanded “Her” to north of 1,700 engagements where it grossed a more modest $5.4 million. The futuristic dramedy about a man who falls in love with his computer system received a ‘B-’ CinemaScore. It’s a tougher sell compared to “August,” a showy feature adaptation from the play by Tracy Letts starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, both of whom were nominated for Globes acting prizes.

Also nominated with “Her” in the picture musical/comedy category, CBS Films’ “Inside Llewyn Davis” expanded to 729 theaters, estimating $1.9 million in three days, for a Stateside total of $9.3 million — past the Coen brothers’ “A Serious Man,” which made $9.2 million in 2009.

The overpeformance of “Lone Survivor” was not entirely unexpected prior to the weekend since the film had been outdoing comparable films like “Zero Dark Thirty” in pre-sales. (The latter pic expanded wide this same weekend last year with $24 million.) And while “Lone Survivor” didn’t play on Imax screens, the film saw 13% of its gross come from other premium-large format locations; mostly, Cinemark’s XD brand.

Not surprisingly, “Lone Survivor” played best in the Midwest and in military markets like San Diego. The film, however, scored exceptionally well with women accounting for 43% of the opening gross.

“I, of course, wanted this to be a hugely successful film financially,” said U distribution prexy Nikki Rocco, “but ultimately, it didn’t matter because this is a project of passion.”

Based on the memoir of Navy SEALs officer Marcus Luttrell, who fought to survive during a deadly gunfight in Afghanistan in 2005, the film received a rare ‘A+’ CinemaScore across all demographics. Pic had a strong Hispanic turnout, with 32%.

Mainland minion fever

After seven months of global play, Universal’s “Despicable Me 2″ bowed this weekend in China, where it scored $13.8 million, making it the largest opening for an animated film locally since “Ice Ace: Continental Drift” in 2012.

The film’s mainland bow is more impressive considering the first “Despicable Me” was not released in China. The sequel was further boosted at the box office thanks to Imax, which played the film on all of its 141 screens in the country. Pic’s Chinese opening lifts its overseas grand total to $567.1 million, for a worldwide haul surpassing $935 million.

Elsewhere among the BRIC nations, Paramount expanded “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” into Russia and Brazil, where the horror pic earned for biggest opening for the franchise in both countries, with $4 million and $2 million, respectively.

Bowing

Film (Weeks in release): 3-day gross*; Locations; Per-theater average; Cume*; Percentage change

  1. Lone Survivor (3): $38.5; 2,875; $13,395; $38.9; +999%
  2. Frozen (8): $15.1; 3,239; $4,653; $317.7; -23%
  3. The Wolf of Wall Street (3): $9.0; 2,521; $3,570; $78.6; -32%
  4. The Legend of Hercules (1): $8.6; 2,104; $4,087; $8.6; –
  5. American Hustle (5): $8.6; 2,629; $3,271; $101.6; -31%
  6. The Hobbit … Smaug (5): $8.0; 3,075; $2,607; $242.2; -49%
  7. August: Osage County (3): $7.3; 905; $8,083; $7.9; +999%
  8. Saving Mr. Banks (5): $6.7; 2,671; $2,463; $68.9; -24%
  9. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2): $6.3; 2,883; $2,185; $28.5; -66%
  10. Anchorman 2 (4): $6.1; 3,012; $2,025; $118.5; -43%

Overseas

Film (Weeks in release): 3-day gross; Territories; Screens; Int’l cume*; Global cume*; Percentage change

  1. Frozen (7): $27.8; 50; n/a; $394.6; $712.3; -47%
  2. The Hobbit … Smaug (5): $22.2; 62; 9,300; $566.0; $808.2; -62%
  3. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2): $15.5; 40; 4,140; $34.6; $63.1; -4%
  4. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (3): $14.4; 61; 6,300; $93.3; $146; -54%
  5. Despicable Me 2 (30): $13.8; 1; 3,000; $567.1; $935.1; +999%

*in millions of $

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