dory 3 edt

This weekend, Disney and Pixar ruled the box office with ease as the animated smash Finding Dory was once again the most popular film in the land taking in an estimated $73.2M in its second weekend of release. That represented a 46% decline which is good considering the record opening it is coming off of which included massive Thursday pre-shows from last week, and the fact that it is a sequel. Last year’s Pixar entry Inside Out was an original film that dropped 42% and the 2013 sequel Monsters University fell by 45%. All three Pixar movies opened in the second half of June right as schools were letting out for summer vacation.

Through the second weekend, Dory stands tall at $286.6M surpassing the final domestic total of University. On Monday, it will pass Up to become Pixar’s fourth biggest blockbuster ever and on Tuesday it should crack the $300M mark. Eventually the fish tale will beat out Finding Nemo, Inside Out, and Toy Story 3 to become the animation leader’s highest-grossing film of all-time on its way to a finish in the $500M range. Seven of the top ten films this weekend are sequels and all are performing worse than their predecessors – with the notable exception of Dory.

The overseas take climbed to $110.3M led by China where the second weekend tumbled by two-thirds for a cume of $30.2M. That put the global sum at $396.9M with several top markets yet to open.

Opening in second place to rocky results was the big-budget sci-fi sequel Independence Day: Resurgence with an estimated $41.6M from 4,068 locations for a $10,226 average. The PG-13 film continued this summer’s string of sequels that audiences never asked for and performed below the levels of its predecessor. 20 years ago, Independence Day was a pop culture phenomenon opening mid-week ahead of the Fourth of July holiday with $50.2M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and $96.1M over the six-day debut period which began on Tuesday evening with shows starting at 6pm. Yes, pre-shows existed many years ago too. ID4 ended up as the top-grossing film of that year.

Even with a Friday launch, higher ticket prices, 3D, IMAX, and 1,186 more theaters, Resurgence still saw a much lower opening weekend than the 1996 hit. In fact when comparing admissions, the sequel pulled in 55-60% fewer people. Many cast members returned in the sequel, but Will Smith was noticeably absent. The actor has had more flops than hits in recent times so it is hard to determine what impact his presence would have had, but overall consumer excitement was never very high for Resurgence.

Studio data from Fox showed that the audience was understandably more male (58%) while 64% were over 25. Reviews were mostly bad and the B CinemaScore grade indicates that paying audiences were only moderately happy with the entertainment they got.

With a budget reportedly north of $160M, the Roland Emmerich-directed action tale is global in scope and made to earn its revenues from around the world. Independence Day: Resurgence made use of its day-and-date roll-out by grossing a hefty $102.1M internationally for a $143.7M global bow this weekend. China, of course, repped the biggest share with a large $37.3M weekend almost matching the domestic gross. The next biggest markets were Korea with $7.4M, the U.K. with $7.3M, and Mexico with $6.8M.

Kevin Hart films often tank on the second weekend, but with The Rock on board, Central Intelligence dropped 48% to an estimated $18.4M taking third place. Given the big marketing push and the arrival of new action offerings, that was a reasonable sophomore decline for Warner Bros. With $69.3M to date, the action-comedy looks to end its run in the area of $115M which would be second-best all-time for Hart after Ride Along‘s $134.9M.

Blake Lively scored a commercial hit, and proved her box office pull, with the shark attack thriller The Shallows which exceeded expectations to open to an estimated $16.7M in fourth. Averaging a solid $5,638 from 2,962 locations, the PG-13 pic was powered by young women and served as fresh content in a marketplace filled with recycled brands. Sony’s well-reviewed one-woman survival story played to an audience that was 54% female and 50% under 25. With a production cost of only $17M, Shallows will end up as one of the more profitable titles of the summer.

Audiences had no interest in Matthew McConaughey’s new slave drama Free State of Jones which flopped with an opening weekend of only $7.8M, according to estimates, from 2,815 theaters for a weak $2,761 average. Backed in part by Chinese financing, the STX release earned negative reviews which turned off its target audience of serious-minded adults. Plus the story was something that summer ticket buyers were just not in the mood for in the first place.

A five-pack of sequels filled up the rest of the top ten. Horror offering The Conjuring 2 grossed an estimated $7.7M, down 48%, giving Warner Bros. $86.9M to date. Global is now a fantastic $242.9M. Lionsgate’s Now You See Me 2 dropped 40% to an estimated $5.7M for a $52.1M cume. The magic pic is the latest Hollywood movie to open bigger in China than in the U.S. thanks to this weekend’s $43.3M debut which is not surprising since half the film is set there. Global on NYSM2 is $159.8M.

Fox’s X-Men: Apocalypse fell 53% to an estimated $2.5M giving the mutants $151.1M to date. Rounding out the list with long titles and declines of more than half were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows with an estimated $2.4M and Alice Through the Looking Glass with an estimated $2.1M. Totals are $77.1M and $74.6M, respectively.

Dropping out of the top ten in only its third weekend was the big-budget adventure Warcraft with an estimated $2.1M and terrible $43.9M cume. The Universal tentpole has suffered back-to-back 70% declines and is looking at a domestic final of about $47M. The video-game-inspired Mortal Kombat from 21 years ago did much better with $70.4M in the summer of 1995. But overseas is a different story for Warcraft where the China total has risen to $221M even though it is decelerating fast there. Global is now $412.2M with a whopping 89% coming from outside North America.

Disney owns four of the six biggest blockbusters of 2016 and two of them fell out of the top ten this weekend. Captain America: Civil War climbed to $403.9M domestic and $1.15 billion worldwide while The Jungle Book rose to $358M and $929.5M global.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $178.1M which was up 2% from last year when Jurassic World remained at number one for a third time with $54.5M; and up 4% from 2014 when Transformers: Age of Extinction debuted in the top spot with $100M, a figure other distributors disputed.

Compared to projections, Finding Dory was on target with my $74M forecast while Independence Day was close to my $39M prediction. The Shallows opened well above my $10M projection and Free State of Jones was on target with my $7M forecast.

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This weekend Oscar frontrunner Leonardo DiCaprio returned to the number one spot for the first time in six years with his current Best Picture contender The Revenant which climbed up into the top spot in its third round of nationwide release. The acclaimed revenge saga grossed an estimated $16M falling 50% from its take from last weekend. Cume to date for Fox is a hefty $119.2M. Though starring in many critical and commercial successes in recent years, DiCaprio has not had a number one hit since the summer blockbuster Inception which spent three weeks on top in 2010 and 11 total weeks in the top ten. Both movies, coincidentally, co-star Tom Hardy.

Films across the board were impacted by a major winter blizzard hitting the eastern half of the country affecting over 80 million people across 19 states. Studios hope to recover lost business in the days and weeks ahead, though higher quality pics with strong audience buzz are the ones most likely to do so. Hollywood is also expecting Sunday sales to take a hit from the annual football conference championship games which always deliver high TV ratings.

The juggernaut of all juggernauts Star Wars: The Force Awakens got to climb up one spot from third to second place with an estimated $14.3M, down 46%. Disney has amassed a huge $879.3M and looks on track to finish up in the $910-915M range from the domestic marketplace. With no major Oscar nominations to keep the juice going the way Avatar and Titanic had at this same point in their record runs, the BB8 pic is seeing normal declines for a sci-fi actioner.

Worldwide, Force has risen to $1.94 billion thanks to an international weekend estimate of $23.3M (-51%) pushing the offshore cume to $1.06 billion. The overseas total will probably not surpass Furious 7‘s. Just under 55% of the worldwide haul for Force has come from international markets led by the U.K. ($173.3M) and China ($112.7M). The latter has not been delivering results near industry highs. Instead, the final gross in China will probably be on par with the latest Mission: Impossible film while also ending up $100M below Avengers: Age of Ultron and a whopping $250M below Furious 7.

The global total for the seventh episode of Star Wars now looks on track to end at about $2.05 billion which is still monumental. The same mid-December launch period has been staked out by Disney this year and in 2017 for the next two films in the franchise – Rogue One and Episode VIII.

Last week’s top film Ride Along 2 tumbled in its sophomore frame falling 63% to an estimated $13M giving Universal $59.1M overall. The Ice Cube-Kevin Hart sequel is running 22% behind the pace of its 2014 predecessor which had banked $75.5M at this same point that January. A final gross in the $85-90M range should occur giving both actors another profitable hit.

The critically-panned comedy Dirty Grandpa bowed in fourth with an estimated $11.5M from 2,912 theaters for a mild $3,958 average. Pairing Robert De Niro with Zac Efron, the R-rated pic tried to go after a male audience hoping to appeal to guys of all ages. Horrible reviews kept many away and mediocre word-of-mouth from those who did pay to go see it will lead to above average erosion.

The haunted doll chiller The Boy opened close behind in fifth place with an estimated $11.3M from 2,671 sites for a decent $4,216 average. The PG-13 spookfest played to young women as expected with exit polls showing the crowd to be 62% female and 75% under 25. Latinos contributed heavily to the supernatural thriller’s weekend making up a strong 41% of the audience. Reviews were weak but the B- CinemaScore is not bad for the horror genre. Budget was just $10M.

Also targeting young females this weekend was the new Chloë Grace Moretz-led sci-fi thriller The 5th Wave which debuted in sixth place with an estimated $10.7M. Sony averaged a lukewarm $3,680 from 2,908 locations. Studio data showed that the audience for the PG-13 pic was 55% female and 62% under 25. The production cost was only $38M. Reviews were negative across the board and a weak B- CinemaScore grade means a shaky road ahead.

Michael Bay’s military drama 13 Hours followed dropping a reasonable 40% in its second weekend to an estimated $9.8M boosting the cume to $33.5M. Look for Paramount to finish at about $55M for the low-cost project. Studio stablemate Daddy’s Home was off 45% to an estimated $5.3M lifting the cume to $138.8M on its way to the $150M range.

Lionsgate’s toon offering Norm of the North grossed an estimated $3.5M, down 40%, and put its sum at a soft $14.3M. Academy Award nominee for Best Picture The Big Short had a good weekend slipping 34% to an estimated $3.5M and also winning the prestigious PGA prize on Saturday night. The last eight consecutive Oscar winners for Best Picture won at the PGAs beforehand so Short has now moved into a very high profile slot with weeks of Academy voting still to come. Cume is $56.7M with plenty of potential ahead.

Moviegoers continued to sample other Oscar contenders for Best Picture which posted great holds outside the top ten. Fox Searchlight’s Brooklyn eased just 7% to an estimated $1.7M for $27.5M to date. Room nearly tripled its screen count and shot up 88% to an estimated $1.4M giving A24 $8M. Spotlight, winner of many top prizes from journalist groups, slipped only 17% to an estimated $1.4M in its 12th weekend. Open Road has collected $33M so far.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $99.3M which was down 27% from last year when American Sniper stayed at number one with $64.6M; but up 6% from 2014 when Ride Along remained in the top spot with $21.3M.

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In Theaters This Week:




Rating: G.

The latest family-friendly documentary from Disney’s Disneynature label, following Earth, Oceans, African Cats and Chimpanzees, is mainly an adorably cuddly adventure. It follows a mama bear named Sky and her two cubs, Scout and Amber, as they dig out from their snowy cave in the Alaskan wilderness and head down the mountain in search of food. Perils do await them, though, from larger and hungrier bears and wolves to rising water and the threat of starvation. (If you and your family have seen African Cats, with its bloody zebra mauling, nothing nearly so gory happens here.) There are a couple of tense moments but John C. Reilly’s amiable narration lets you know everything will be all right. And the film is beautiful, intimately shot, so it’s at least worthwhile from a visual perspective. Fine for all ages.



Rating: PG-13, for sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language and sensuality.

Christopher Nolan’s longtime cinematographer, Oscar-winner Wally Pfister, makes his directing debut with this thinky sci-fi thriller. It’s full of big ideas about the frightening power of technology — both its potential and its threat to our privacy — but the execution is rather dull and sometimes silly. Johnny Depp stars as a brilliant scientist who’s been experimenting with artificial intelligence alongside his wife (Rebecca Hall). When a terrorist group guns him down, he uploads himself to the Internet to keep his legacy alive. There are lots of shootings and explosions here with quite a bit of blood, but part of the story hinges on medical advancements that allow people to regenerate and heal themselves – so they don’t stay injured for long. The violence, subject matter and nearly two-hour running time make this suitable for tweens and up only.

New On DVD:

The Nut Job


Rating: PG, for mild action and rude humor.

A mostly innocuous but thoroughly unpleasant animated comedy full of unlikable characters. Will Arnett provides the voice of Surly, a squirrel who’s just trying to get a nut – and he’s unwilling to share with the rest of the furry woodland creatures in the park. Trouble is, there’s a food shortage as winter approaches, so Surly must choose between remaining selfish or being a team player. Fart jokes abound here – and many of them take place underground just to make them extra gross. Some of the rodents also wind up in danger on a raging river. Surly and his pals run into some mobster types, but they’re too cartoonish (in every way) to be threatening. And a raccoon voiced by Liam Neeson might just be more devious than he initially seems.

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty


Rating: PG, for some crude comments, language and action violence.

Ben Stiller directs and stars as the title character in this big-budget version of the classic James Thurber story. The milquetoast Mitty enjoys a vivid fantasy world which becomes reality when he’s forced to embark on a globetrotting adventure. The special effects are pretty spectacular here – and they’re the main reason to recommend this movie. There are a couple scenes of peril: a chase through the crowded streets of Manhattan, as well as an erupting volcano. And Walter’s boss, played by an arrogant Adam Scott, is a total jerk. But for the most part this inanely uplifting story about overcoming your fears and chasing your dreams is pretty darn harmless.

Ride Along


Rating: PG-13, for sequences of violence, sexual content and brief strong language.

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart co-star in this clichéd, mismatched buddy-cop comedy that strains desperately to be funny. Hart plays a fast-talking security guard with dreams of becoming a police officer. He also dreams of marrying his longtime girlfriend (Tika Sumpter), whose brother is the toughest detective in all of Atlanta. Hart goes for a ride along with Cube — hence the title — to prove his worth. Shootings, showdowns with generic Serbian bad guys and explosions ensue. There’s also plenty of language and suggestive sexual jokes involving the various positions and tricks Hart likes to employ in the bedroom. (And his nickname is Black Hammer, supposedly a reference to his manhood.) This is probably OK for older kids, but you may want to show them The Other Guys or even 21 Jump Street instead.

This week in new streaming video, we’ve got a Kevin Hart-Ice Cube comedy, an imaginative short story adaptation by Ben Stiller, one of Matthew McConaughey’s acclaimed films from last year, and a bunch of new additions to Netflix. Read on for the full list:

Ride Along


Hard-nosed detective James (Ice Cube) is less than pleased that his sister is dating a slacker like Ben (Kevin Hart). When Ben is accepted to the police force, he hopes to win James’ respect by joining him on the beat.

Available now on: iTunes, Vudu

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty


Ben Stiller stars as a reverie-prone Life magazine photo editor with problems at work: he’s derided by his boss, he’s got an unrequited crush on a co-worker (Kristen Wiig), and he can’t find an image that’s set to run in the next issue. He escapes into a globe-spanning fantasyland of his own creation — which might be just the thing that snaps him out of his rut.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu



Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon star in this critically acclaimed drama about a pair of teenagers who befriend a reclusive criminal.

Available now on: Amazon Prime, Netflix

20 Feet from Stardom


This Oscar-winning documentary tribute to some of rock’s finest backup singers features interviews with Mick Jagger, Stevie Wonder, Sting, and many more singing the praises of some of music’s most talented and unheralded voices.

Available now on: Netflix

The Grandmaster


Wong Kar Wai directs Tony Leung and Ziyi Zhang in this period biopic about a legendary martial arts master.

Available now on: Netflix

The Punk Singer


This rockumentary offers a portrait of the trials and tribulations of Kathleen Hanna, the outspoken lead singer of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre.

Available now on: Netflix



This biopic follows Steve Jobs (Ashton Kutcher) from the early days of Apple to the triumph of the iPod.

Available now on: Netflix



When a freak accident imbues a garden snail named Theo (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) with super speed, he sees an opportunity to fulfill his dream and attempts to enter the Indy 500.

Available now on: Netflix

How I Live Now


Saoirse Ronan stars in a sci-fi drama about a teenager whose carefree existence is upended when war breaks out across the UK.

Available now on: Netflix

Mr. Nobody


Jared Leto and Diane Kruger star in a sci-fi drama about the repercussions of a child choosing which parent to live with.

Available now on: Netflix

Moviegoing took a backseat to football as the North American box office slumped to its worst performance in over four months with the hit comedy Ride Along ruling the chart for a third week in a row. The animated smash Frozen enjoyed an uptick in business, thanks in part to a new sing-along version, and rose to second place. The weekend’s new releases failed to generate much business and most holdovers averaged below $3,000 as the marketplace struggled to attract audiences.

Sitting pretty at number one for a third time were Kevin Hart and Ice Cube with Ride Along which witnessed a moderate 42% drop to an estimated $12.3M. Universal has collected an impressive $93M after 17 days and the PG-13 film has now become the highest-grossing film of all-time for each actor in a lead role. Finishing in the neighborhood of $125M seems likely.

In its tenth weekend of wide release, Disney’s runaway hit Frozen climbed up to number two grossing an estimated $9.3M, according to estimates. The snow sisters got some help from the studio launching a special sing-along version this weekend featuring the words to all the hit songs. Music has been a key driving force for the business with the soundtrack hitting number one for three weeks – the first for any movie soundtrack in over a decade. The gross was up 2% from last weekend despite the theater count staying mostly the same.

Winning five Annie Awards this weekend including Best Animated Feature, Frozen upped its domestic haul to an eye-popping $360M putting it at number 26 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters passing the $352.4M of 2011’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon. A domestic final of $390M+ seems possible with its long-lasting legs, although the release of The Lego Movie on Friday will surely steal away the attention of kids.

The Oscar-nominated toon’s international run continued on its collision course with the one billion dollar mark. Overseas markets grossed $24M this weekend allowing the offshore haul to crack the $500M barrier. With $504.4M internationally and $864.4M worldwide so far, Frozen opens in China next weekend and then Japan on March 15.

The newly-designed Focus opened the buddy comedy That Awkward Moment but was met with lousy results with an estimated $9M opening weekend. Averaging a soft $3,208 from 2,809 locations, the R-rated film starring Zac Efron connected with its target audience of young women, but didn’t draw a sizable number of them to the multiplexes. Harsh reviews hurt and there was little starpower in the cast outside of the former Disney star.

Studio research showed that 64% of the audience was female and 61% were under 25. Typically, young females are the quadrant least interested in the Super Bowl so Hollywood routinely targets them over this particular weekend. But normally stronger results are achieved. Awkward’s CinemaScore grade was a lukewarm B. The low-budget film only cost $8M to produce with Focus (and its former FilmDistrict side) paying $1.5M to acquire, plus marketing costs.

The animated comedy The Nut Job dropped to an estimated $7.6M, down 37%, and has given Open Road a solid $50.2M to date. Falling 44% to an estimated $7.2M was Mark Wahlberg’s war story Lone Survivor which has collected an impressive $104.9M for Universal. It became the first wide opener of 2014 to enter the century club and should have 30 or so more joining it by year’s end.

Not living up to the standards set by its predecessors, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit took in an estimated $5.4M, off 41%, for a weak $39M cume for Paramount. It will easily end as the lowest-grossing installment in the five-film series despite having the highest ticket prices.

Failing to lure in mature women, the Kate Winslet-Josh Brolin drama Labor Day flopped in seventh with a puny $5.3M, according to estimates. Paramount’s poorly-reviewed new entry from writer/director Jason Reitman averaged a dull $2,051 from 2,584 theaters and generated no excitement with its target audience, or beyond. Those who did pay to see it were unsatisfied as it earned a lackluster B- CinemaScore grade. Adult dramas with Oscar buzz and terrific reviews provided tough competition.

Academy Award hopeful American Hustle followed with an estimated $4.3M, off 39%, for a new cume of $133.6M for Sony. It is now the top-grossing film ever for director David O. Russell surpassing the $132.1M of last year’s Silver Linings Playbook. Martin Scorsese’s rival Best Picture contender The Wolf of Wall Street dropped 35% to an estimated $3.6M lifting the total for Paramount to $104.1M.

Action-horror hybrid I, Frankenstein tumbled 59% in its second weekend, to no surprise, and grossed an estimated $3.5M. The Lionsgate release has taken in only $14.5M in ten days and is headed for a weak final of about $20M.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $67.5M which was up 4% from last year when Warm Bodies opened at number one with $20.4M; but down 23% from 2012 when Chronicle debuted in the top spot with $22M.

It was a sluggish session at the North American box office as Hollywood offered just one new movie which was rejected by audiences allowing the top five to be filled by the same faces as last week. The action-horror thriller I, Frankenstein flopped while the hit buddy comedy Ride Along once again took first place for a second weekend in a row with a reasonably good hold. Moviegoers did spend some time sampling the Academy Award nominees for Best Picture as eight of the nine contenders found themselves in the Top 20.

Kevin Hart and Ice Cube once again ruled the box office with their runaway hit Ride Along which collected an estimated $21.2M in its sophomore round easily beating all competitors. The Universal hit dropped 49% which was a decent hold considering it was coming off of a holiday weekend when Sunday numbers were stronger than usual. With a robust $75.4M grossed in the first ten days, look for the PG-13 film to end up with roughly $125M which would be a career high for each star in a lead role, and also five times bigger than its $25M production cost. Ride Along is also set to soar higher than many of last year’s big comedy titles like This is the End, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa and The Hangover Part III and will reach the same vicinity as Anchorman 2.

Mark Wahlberg and his fellow soldiers held their ground in second with Lone Survivor which fell back 43% to an estimated $12.6M in its third round of wide release. The Universal hit has grossed an impressive $93.6M and will cross the $100M mark before the Super Bowl. The studio is off to a fantastic start in 2014 topping the charts over the last three weeks with two films about to join the century club.

Advertising itself as the #1 family movie in America, the animated comedy The Nut Job finished its second weekend in third place with an estimated $12.3M after a good hold that saw sales drop just 37%. The Open Road release has banked $40.3M in ten days and could be headed for a $75M final. A sequel has already been announced and will follow the same release pattern opening over the Martin Luther King holiday in 2016.

Toon juggernaut, and double Oscar nominee, Frozen enjoyed great stamina again dipping only 23% to an estimated $9M in its ninth weekend of wide release boosting the remarkable domestic haul up to $347.8M. Next weekend, Disney will replace over 1,000 of the runs with a new sing-along version of the popular film in hopes of generating even more repeat business.

Frozen now sits at number 27 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters just two spots behind last year’s sensation Despicable Me 2 which had the added advantage of being a sequel playing in summer when kids were out of school. The snow sisters will surpass the Minions in a couple of weeks to steal away the animated box office crown for 2013. Frozen also zoomed past the $800M global mark this weekend with a worldwide tally of $810.3M and counting. With China and Japan still to open, breaking the billion dollar mark is looking more and more likely.

The CIA reboot Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit followed its weak opening weekend with a moderate 43% decline to an estimated $8.8M for a disappointing ten-day take of $30.2M. With a reported production cost of $60M, the Paramount release should end its domestic run with only $50M or so. Overseas sales, though, are at a respectable $46.5M early in its run with nearly half coming from China.

Moviegoers showed no interest in paying to see the new monster movie I, Frankenstein which opened poorly in sixth place with an estimated $8.3M. Averaging a weak $3,006 from 2,753 locations, the PG-13 film starring Aaron Eckhart failed to generate much heat and the higher-priced 3D and IMAX options did not seem to be premium experiences that ticket buyers felt like spending cash for on this particular title. The opening was even worse than the $11.2M debut of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein from back in 1994 when tickets cost half as much as today.

Films like I, Frankenstein used to be able to count on teen males to turn out. But that demo’s lower attendance today (especially for non-tentpoles) is once again hurting big-budget action films. This one reportedly cost $65M to produce. Lionsgate research showed that 60% of the audience was over 25 and 62% was male. The CinemaScore grade was a B which was decent for this genre of action-horror fare. But past films of this category have opened much better like Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters’ $19.7M from this same weekend last year and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’s $16.3M.

A handful of Oscar nominees caught business from the public led by American Hustle with an estimated $7.1M, off just 28%, for a strong $127M cume to date for Sony. The Weinstein Co. added 360 theaters to the run of August: Osage County and saw sales dip 32% to an estimated $5M. Sum to date is $26.5M.

Paramount’s The Wolf of Wall Street followed dipping 29% to an estimated $5M as well raising the total to $98M. Later this week it will become the fourth consecutive $100M+ grosser for the dynamic duo of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo Dicaprio.

Rounding out the top ten with an estimated $2.8M was the fright flop Devil’s Due which tumbled 67% in its second weekend. The Fox release has scared up a lousy $12.9M in ten days and should end off with only $17M.

The seven remaining Oscar nominees for Best Picture not in the top ten were all still out in national release looking to cash in on the awards attention with some adding screens. Dallas Buyers Club expanded by 691 theaters more than doubling its run and saw a 117% spike to an estimated $2M this weekend and $20.4M to date for Focus. Fox Searchlight’s 12 Years a Slave, seen by many as the one to beat, widened by 470 locations and grossed an estimated $2M, up 31%. Total is now $43.5M.

Adding 316 runs was Gravity which rose 8% to an estimated $2M for a new total of $261.2M. The Warner Bros. smash earned the prestigious DGA Award on Saturday for director Alfonso Cuaron. Paramount’s black-and-white film Nebraska more than doubled its run adding 560 extra screens and collected an estimated $1.4M – the biggest weekend gross yet of its 11-week run. Cume is $11.6M.

The offbeat romance Her with Joaquin Phoenix and the voice of Scarlett Johansson lost 404 locations and fell 43% to an estimated $2.3M giving Warner Bros. $19.2M overall. Judi Dench’s Philomena held steady in 505 locations and took in an estimated $1M, off 18%, for a $25.8M total. After an expansion last weekend, Captain Phillips lost two-thirds of its screens and collected an estimated $328,000, down 37%, for a $106.3M cume.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $92.1M which was up 13% from last year when Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters opened at number one with $19.7M; but up 1% from 2012 when The Grey debuted in the top spot with $19.7M as well.

Kevin Hart and Ice Cube delivered the laughs with their new comedy Ride Along and if estimates hold, it will break the record for the biggest Martin Luther King holiday opening ever. The Universal hit grossed an estimated $41.2M over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of the long frame and the studio is projecting about $47.8M over the four-day period. That would break the old records of $40.1M and $46.1M set in 2008 by Cloverfield. In fact, it would also break the record for the biggest debut in all of January which the low-budget sci-fi pic also has held.

Cube has enjoyed numerous box office hits over the past two decades, but Ride Along‘s success can be attributed more to Hart who gets second billing here. The fast-rising funnyman boasts an enormous fan base (almost 10 million followers on Twitter) and his stand-up comedy concert films have done gangbusters over the past couple of years. His supporting turn in Think Like A Man certainly helped that film open to a stellar $33.6M but with Ride Along, he has his first real lead role in a major studio release. Also helping to sell it were an intriguing concept (guy must impress his fiancée’s cop brother) and a powerful marketing push. Hart even announced surprise pop-ins at various theaters.

Studio research showed that the audience was 57% female, 54% 25 and older, and 80% black or Latino. Over three days, the average was a fantastic $15,471. Reviews were mostly negative, but Ride Along did not enter the marketplace as a fine work of art. It was sold as a funny two-hour good time at the movies and paying moviegoers got exactly what they expected as evidenced by the solid A CinemaScore grade.

Over the last two decades, numerous films led by black casts have generated muscular openings and a large number have shattered industry expectations. But only a few have opened to $30M+ and rarely have they gotten to $40M+, especially when they are not sequels. It opened better than all but one of Will Ferrell’s hit comedies. Hart hopes to strike again next month with his next comedy About Last Night which opens on Valentine’s Day.

Universal controlled the number two spot too with last week’s champ Lone Survivor which dropped a reasonable 39% to an estimated $23.2M for a healthy cume to date of $74M. The last studio to take the top two spots on the box office chart on the same weekend was, interestingly enough, Universal last June when it opened The Purge on top bumping Fast & Furious 6 into second place.

Opening well in third was the new animated comedy The Nut Job with an estimated $20.6M from 3,427 locations for a good $5,996 average. Kids looking to move on from the monster hit Frozen have had almost nothing for them since Thanksgiving. They responded here and Open Road now has a toon hit on its hands with two more weeks of no new competition until the February 7 debut of The Lego Movie.

Paramount suffered a troubling start for the latest reboot of its spy franchise with Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit opening in fourth with an estimated $17.2M marking by far the worst performance in the Tom Clancy series which includes fives films across nearly a quarter-century. Averaging a mediocre $5,078 from 3,387 locations, the PG-13 film debuting Chris Pine as the fourth actor to play the title character just did not create much excitement with moviegoing audiences. The last film in the franchise was 2002’s The Sum of All Fears with Ben Affleck which bowed to a strong $31.2M that summer.

Looking only at the opening weekend gross, Shadow Recruit tied the $17.2M of the first Jack Ryan film The Hunt for Red October from March 1990 for the lowest in franchise history. However, that film with Alec Baldwin and Sean Connery debuted in only 1,225 theaters and ticket prices were half of what they are today. The new pic even offered 300 runs on higher-priced IMAX screens. Reviews for the new $60M-budgeted Ryan were mixed and the CinemaScore grade was a lackluster B. Despite the casting of Pine, teens and young adults took no interest and the film did best with older males who have many other big films competing for their attention, especially Wahlberg’s Lone Survivor which has been overperforming. Studio research showed the audience was 52% male and a whopping 85% over 25.

Disney’s runaway smash Frozen cracked the all-time Top 30 list this weekend after its estimated $12M take in its eighth round of wide release. That boosted the total to $332.6M putting it right at number 30 on the all-time domestic blockbusters list right behind Alice in Wonderland‘s $334.2M from 2010. A $24.6M gross overseas this weekend lifted the international gross to $426.5M and the global tally to a stellar $759.1M on its way to breaking $800M next weekend.

With its incredible starpower and awards buzz, American Hustle led all the newly minted Best Picture Oscar nominees with an estimated $10.6M for a hearty 28% jump despite losing 425 theaters. Over the past seven days, the Sony release won the Golden Globe for Best Picture – Musical or Comedy, the Best Acting Ensemble prize at the Critics Choice Awards, and the top SAG honor for best cast. Add in the great reviews and ample star wattage and Hustle has the most mainstream commercial appeal among the top Academy Award nominees at this moment. Cume to date is $116.4M and $150M+ is possible.

Not scaring up too much cash was the new horror entry Devil’s Due with an estimated $8.5M from 2,544 locations for a mild $3,341 average. The Fox release earned poor reviews and received a big thumbs down from the paying public with its D+ grade from CinemaScore.

It didn’t earn a Best Picture nod from the Academy, but August: Osage County‘s two big acting nominations for superstars Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts helped it stay in the top ten, as did a doubling of screens. The Weinstein Co. pic took in an estimated $7.6M, up 6%, for a total of $18.2M so far. Best Picture nominee The Wolf of Wall Street slipped 15% to an estimated $7.5M giving Paramount $90.3M. Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks missed out on a top nomination and suffered a larger fall dropping 37% to an estimated $4.1M and $75.4M overall.

Below the top ten, Oscar nominees for Best Picture all tried to turn those nods into extra box office gold with some expanding and seeing higher grosses and others staying in roughly the same theaters but posting great holds. Among those not expanding, Her declined by 24% to an estimated $4.1M, Philomena dipped 6% to an estimated $1.3M, and Nebraska inched up 6% to an estimated $940,000. Modest cumes are $15M, $24.1M, and $9.7M.

Three contenders that opened in October and mostly concluded their runs returned to national release this weekend with their studios mounting re-expansions. Gravity rose to 944 locations and grossed an estimated $1.9M, 12 Years A Slave was in 761 sites and made an estimated $1.5M, and Captain Phillips took in an estimated $550,000 from 903 playdates. Totals are $258.4M, $40.6M, and $105.7M. While much attention is put on extra box office a film collects after earning key Oscar nods, it needs to be noted that these films must spend additional funds in order to play this game during awards season and stay in national release. Additional weeks of national advertising is not cheap.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $152.5M which was up a healthy 42% from last year when Mama opened at number one with $28.4M over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of MLK weekend; and up 44% from 2012’s holiday when Contraband debuted in the top spot with $24.3M.

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In Theaters This Week:

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit


Rating: PG-13, for sequences of violence and intense action, and brief strong language.

This prequel/reboot of the Jack Ryan franchise, based on the best-selling Tom Clancy novels, is for tweens and up only. Chris Pine stars as the title character, whom Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck played previously. Here, Ryan is just beginning his career as a CIA operative. It’s post-9/11, and he must travel to Moscow undercover as a financial analyst to find the purpose of some secret accounts a major firm is holding. (Director Kenneth Branagh plays the company’s president, who has some nefarious plans for that money.) Things get violent in a hurry once Ryan arrives – including killing a man who comes after him in his hotel room. Gunfire, car chases, explosions and a deadly shooting follow.

The Nut Job


Rating: PG, for mild action and rude humor.

This thoroughly unfunny animated comedy is full of unlikable characters and shrill antics. Will Arnett lends his voice as Surly, a squirrel who’s only out for himself when he goes hunting for nuts. When it’s clear that the rest of the furry woodland creatures who inhabit the neighborhood park won’t have enough food for the winter, Surly must decide whether to be a team player and help them. There’s a plethora of fart jokes, many of which take place underground to amplify their gross-out factor. Some of the rodents also find themselves in peril on a raging river. Surly and his pals run into some gangster types, but they’re too cartoonish (literally and figuratively) to be threatening. And a raccoon voiced by Liam Neeson turns out to be – spoiler! – perhaps more devious than he initially seems. The film is pretty harmless for the most part from a parental-guidance perspective. But it’s also terrible.

Ride Along


Rating: PG-13, for sequences of violence, sexual content and brief strong language.

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart co-star as mismatched buddy cops, sort of, in this clichéd comedy that strains for laughs. Hart plays a hyperactive security guard who dreams of being a police officer. He also dreams of marrying his longtime girlfriend (Tika Sumpter), whose brother is the toughest detective in all of Atlanta. Hart goes for – you guessed it – a ride along with Cube to prove his worth. Shootings, showdowns with various generic Serbian bad guys and explosions ensue. There’s also plenty of language and suggestive sexual bits involving the various positions and moves Hart likes to employ in the bedroom. (By the way, his nickname is Black Hammer, supposedly a reference to his manhood.) While it’s fine for the oldest of kids, it’s funny for no one.

New On DVD:

Lee Daniels’ The Butler


Rating: Rating PG-13, for some violence and disturbing images, language, sexual material, thematic elements and smoking.

Director Lee Daniels’ sprawling historical epic follows the past several decades through the eyes of a fictionalized version of the White House butler (Forest Whitaker) who served every United States president from Eisenhower to Reagan. Much of the film focuses on the butler’s son (David Oyelowo) as he takes part in the civil-rights movement of the 1960s. There’s a quite a bit of racial violence and slurs that are uncomfortable to see and hear, but maybe they can provide a teaching opportunity. We don’t see the Kennedy assassination but we witness bits of its aftermath, including the sight of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy wearing that famously blood-splattered pink suit. Suitable for older kids, especially those with an interest in history.

This week at the movies, we’ve got a super spy (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, starring Chris Pine and Keira Knightley), some burglarizing rodents (The Nut Job, with voice performances by Will Arnett and Katherine Heigl), mismatched cops (Ride Along, starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart), and a demonic baby (Devil’s Due, starring Allison Miller and Zach Gilford). What do the critics have to say?

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit


Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck have all taken their best shot; now it’s Chris Pine’s turn to play Jack Ryan, the talented CIA agent from Tom Clancy’s bestselling novels. And critics say he’s off to a good start, as Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, while hardly the most original thriller on the market, is slick, exciting, and well-acted. Inspired to serve his country after 9/11, Jack Ryan joins the Marines. After being injured in Afghanistan, Ryan is recruited in the CIA, and soon he’s on the trail of a Russian terrorist plot. The pundits say Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, is a solid meat-and-potatoes thriller, one that’s skillfully crafted and pleasantly suspenseful. (Check out this week’s total recall, in which we count down director Kenneth Branagh’s best-reviewed films.)

The Nut Job


From Steamboat Willie to Ratatouille, there have been plenty of iconic animated rodents. Unfortunately, Surly the squirrel is unlikely to join that illustrious pantheon; critics say The Nut Job has some nice backgrounds but its plot is threadbare and its star is less than charming. Surly (voiced by Will Arnett) has devised a plan to rob a nut store and make off with enough food to last through the winter. Can Surly learn a valuable lesson about greed — and become a hero in the process? The pundits say The Nut Job is overly reliant on physical humor, and its characters are surprisingly sour, though there are some moments of visual invention.

Ride Along


At first glance, scowling, no-nonsense Ice Cube and hustling, motormouthed Kevin Hart would seem to be an ideal comedic pairing. Unfortunately, critics say they’re underutilized in Ride Along, a thinly plotted, utterly generic cop-buddy action comedy. Hard-nosed detective James (Ice Cube) is less than pleased that his sister is dating a slacker like Ben (Hart). When Ben is accepted to the police force, he hopes to win James’ respect by joining him on the beat. The pundits say Ride Along offers up a few laughs, but mostly it coasts along on cop movie cliches. Click through this week’s 24 Frames for a gallery of movie cops.)

Devil’s Due


Sooner or later, the found-footage horror subgenre was bound to get its own Rosemary’s Baby. But while critics say Devil’s Due is moderately well crafted, they also note that it’s more dependent on jump-scares than on more imaginative chills. Samantha (Allison Miller) and Zach (Zach Gilford) are preparing to welcome their first child together when Samantha’s behavior begins to take on a sinister tone; could it be that she’s been impregnated by a malevolent spirit? The pundits say Devil’s Due features decent performances, but its plot becomes increasingly absurd as it goes along.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Big Bad Wolves, a revenge thriller about a cop who tries to extract a confession from the man he believes to be the killer of a young girl, is at 79 percent.

  • Hirokazu Koreeda‘s Like Father, Like Son, a drama about two families dealing with the discovery that their six-year-old sons were switched at birth, is at 79 percent.

  • Maidentrip, a documentary about a 14-year-old’s attempt to be the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe, is at 78 percent.

  • G.B.F., a comedy about a guy who’s got a group of popular girls battling for the right to call him their gay best friend, is at 77 percent.

  • Generation War, a drama about five German friends dealing with the moral complications of life during the Third Reich, is at 45 percent.

  • Summer in February, starring Dominic Cooper and Dan Stevens in a period drama about two close friends in love with the same woman, is at 41 percent.

  • Jamesy Boy, starring Ving Rhames and Mary-Louise Parker in a drama about a young convict who attempts to turn his life around, is at 13 percent.

Finally, props to Garner Montgomery for coming the closest to guessing The Legend of Hercules‘ five percent Tomatometer. That’s two in a row for Mr. Montgomery.

Ride Along is so chock full of action that Grae Drake felt compelled to make sure everyone involved knew her response to it. And even though Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, director Tim Story, and producer Will Packer didn’t know there would be a quiz, they get one anyway.