Weekend Wrap Up: “Lone Survivor” Alone at the Top

Every now and then, a film comes out of nowhere with a debut much larger than expected. 2014, in just its second weekend, reminded us of that fact this weekend. It also showed that well-liked films from the previous year can continue to play well even after the calendar changes. And, finally, we’re still going to have plenty of flops.

Lone Survivor

File:Lone Survivor poster.jpg

On this same weekend last year, Zero Dark Thirty, a very well-reviewed, if controversial film, expanded into its first weekend of nationwide release with a solid $24.4 million. Going in, I thought that film was going to be a jingoistic white-washing of America. I was extremely pleasantly surprised when it was anything but that. Even still, it felt like there was money left on the table with Zero Dark Thirty. I think it may have actually been a problem that it wasn’t an super-patriotic film. That’s clearly not going to be a problem with Lone Survivor.

A $38.5 million wide debut after two weekends in limited release destroys expectations for Lone Survivor. As I said, I think that there is an audience for these movies, especially when they’re actually fairly good on their own merits. Hell, look at the unheralded Act of Valor from almost two years ago; that film came out of nowhere to open with $24 million. Lone Survivor should appeal very well to its target demographic and with a debut this large (which, by the way, is the second biggest ever for the month of January, not far behind the monthly record of $40 million set by Cloverfield), $100 million is all but a foregone conclusion.

Had it not been for the huge debut of Lone Survivor, Frozen might have had a shot at another weekend on top. As it stands, the smash-hit posted another great hold, this time slipping just 23%. Even with the holiday over, Frozen continues to show great legs. With $317.7 million in the bank, catching Despicable Me 2 is still a possibility, although Frozen will need to weather the debut of The Nut Job well next weekend. But wherever it ends up, it’s still one of the biggest surprises of 2013.

The Wolf of Wall Street dropped 32% to $9 million and lifted its solid total to $78.6 million. It’s probably going to need some Oscar buzz/Golden Globe wins to make sure it gets past $100 million. The Legend of Hercules debuted to $8.6 million and that might sound terrible, but it’s actually a few million more than expectations, many of which pegged it at $5 million or even lower. Grossing the same $8.6 million amount, American Hustle dropped 31% and passed $100 million with a total of $101.6 million.

Dropping 49%, The Desolation of Smaug pulled in $8 million and lifted its total to $242.2 million. August: Osage County, for which Meryl Streep will be nominated for an Oscar because, well, she’s Meryl Streep, expanded from limited release and grossed $7.3 million, with $7.9 million in total. Down in eighth, Saving Mr. Banks slipped 24% to $6.6 million, giving it a solid total of $69 million.

Crashing 66%, The Marked Ones grossed $6.3 million and brought its sum to $28.5 million. This one is even going to crack $40 million in total. Finally, in tenth, we have Anchorman: The Legend Continues. Ron Burgundy and crew dropped 43% to $6.1 million to bring the grand total to $118.5 million. Pretty solid. Next weekend continues a fairly crowded January with four new releases: Devil’s Due, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, The Nut Job and Ride Along. By all rights, Jack Ryan should win the weekend, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Lone Survivor hold on or Ride Along break out. Whatever way it goes, next weekend should continue a surprisingly interesting January. Until we meet again.

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