Box Office: Ender’s Game Wins Weekend Over Last Vegas & Free Birds


It’s not always easy being the new kid in school. So many stares.

Ender’s Game finishing atop the leaderboard at the end of the weekend isn’t a surprise. Fans of the novel know all about Ender Wiggin and his exploits at Battle School when he lead all statistical categories in the zero-G battles. However, it’s weekend success when paired with the recent success of Gravity and you have science fiction dominating the box office four out of the last five weekends. (The only exception is last weekend when Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa knocked Gravity out of the top spot.)

While Hollywood would like to think this period is prime for science-fiction films, I’d be more inclined to pull a Lee Corso (ahem, ESPN college football analyst and former coach) and say, “Not so fast, my friend.” Both films were targeted for specific audiences. Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity was a tale set in space that was pushed hard by its star wattage – Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Gavin Hood’s Ender’s Game was seeking grownup fans of the sci-fi novel and young adults, since Orson Scott Card’s novel is a YA novel of sorts. In the months leading up to the film’s release there was controversy. The controversy stemmed from Card’s homophobia. The news had died down by the film’s release and all indicators point to Card’s comments not detracting from box office dollars. (Besides, Card has been writing about his views on homosexuals way before the marriage debate became a topic of conversation.)

Nevertheless, Ender’s Game $28 million isn’t a strong weekend. It will be severely tested this coming weekend with the arrival of Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World, which opened abroad and cleaned house with $109.4 million. Disney executives are so ecstatic they are calling Tom Hiddleston asking if Natalie Portman can punch him in the face again. That’s how excited they are. In all fairness, I don’t think Ender’s Game has a shot of making back its $110 million budget, at least in the U.S.

Still maintaining a strong second place is Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa with $20.5 million. After two weeks “bad” is feeling pretty good with $62.1 million overall. Opening third was Last Vegas. A $16.5 million opening for an AARP comedy with a cast of five Oscar winners. Not quite the One Flew Into the Old Folks Home and Woke Up with a Hangover I was expecting. CBS Films is mildly happy that it bettered pre-weekend estimates of $14 million. Methinks this one will have some holdover leading up through the Thanksgiving holiday. Older audiences aren’t first weekenders when it comes to going to the movies anyway.

And with Thanksgiving approaching we have the animated Free Birds opening in fourth with $16.2 million. If Disney’s non-Pixar Cars spin-off Planes can open with $22 million and go on to earn almost $90 million domestic, then Relativity Media’s animated release may just be a slow-roasting turkey when it comes to box office earnings. In fifth and sixth, Gravity and Captain Phillips called in $13.1 million and $8.5 million respectively. Seventh place finisher 12 Years a Slave saw expansion to 410 theaters (and a 115.5% growth in attendance from last weekend). In three weeks it has grossed $8.8 million. Even with the debut of Free Birds, eighth place’s Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 chow-downed $4.2 million. With Halloween done you can say the same for Carrie. She keeps slipping down the list, finishing ninth with $3.4 million. And suffering a colossal drop was Ridley Scott’s The Counselor with $3.3 million.

As for specialty box office, Jean-Marc Vallee’s Dallas Buyers Club opened in nine theaters and made $264,128, averaging an impressive $29,437. Universal unleashed About Time in 175 theaters and made $1.1 million. Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut Man of Tai Chi only made $112,300 at 110 locations, but its performance on VOD is strong. Reports indicate that VOD buys were approximately $1.5 million.

Gazing into my box office crystal ball for the weekend, I’m going with Thor: The Dark World versus the field.

Weekend Box Office Top Ten for November 1 – November 3, 2013

1. Ender’s Game (Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate) – $28,000,000

2. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Paramount) – $20,500,000 ($62,058,000)

3. Last Vegas (CBS Films) – $16,520,000

4. Free Birds (Relativity Media) – $16,200,000

5. Gravity (Warner Bros.) – $13,130,000 ($219,196,000)

6. Captain Phillips (Sony Pictures) – $8,500,000 ($82,551,000)

7. 12 Years A Slave (Fox Searchlight) – $4,600,000 ($8,760,000)

8. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Sony) – $4,200,000 ($106,195,000)

9. Carrie (Screen Gems/Sony Pictures) – $3,400,000 ($31,973,000)

10. The Counselor (Fox) – $3,250,000 ($13,368,000)

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