Lone Survivor Stands Tall at the Top of the Weekend Box Office

Apparently, Scott's optimism of Hercules' numbers was well-founded as he nailed what it would gross.  This is why he writes the box office prediction pieces, and I post pictures of dogs and toddlers.  Check his insightful analysis of why the weekend turned out the way it did.


The big winner this past weekend was Peter Berg’s Lone Survivor starring Mark Wahlberg, which was able to bring in the second best January weekend tally of all time. Lone Survivor was not debuting this past weekend, but expanding from limited release, as were a few other films. The only wide release debut was The Legend of Hercules, which attempted to win audiences over with a tale they had never seen before.

Sarcasm. That is something that I should be known for reverting to at times. The problem with Hercules, other than just looking like an awful movie, is that it looked exactly like other movies that audiences have already seen (such as 2011’s Conan the Barbarian and 2010’s Clash of the Titans), as well as some thievery from 300 and Gladiator. Add on top of that some unspeakably awful looking special effects, and we get an opening weekend debut of $8.6 million on a budget of $70 million. This year is starting to feel a bit like the early to mid-80s with the amount of sword and sandal films coming out.

Around the corner we have Pompeii, 300: Rise of an Empire, and another Hercules. We are just missing a remake of Krull to properly round it out. I doubt it is just me who finds it uninspiring, as it will be begging for assistance from the global market to help it on the long trek it has to make towards profit.

While The Legend of Hercules was an easily predicted failure, the success of Lone Survivor was not.  Many could guess that it would take the first place at the box office this weekend, but many, myself included, never thought it would get as high as the $38 million dollars that it made. The weekend total makes it the second highest January weekend performance of all time behind the $40 million performance of Cloverfield in 2008. While so many action movies of late are full of giant explosions, robots, and world-ending scenarios, Lone Survivor provided audiences with a much more realistic war movie. This film helps director Peter Berg get past the shadow of Battleship, which he directed in exchange for getting distribution of Lone Survivor, which was his passion project.

Joaquin Phoenix put on some high-fastening pants in Spike Jonze’s Her, which expanded into wide release this past weekend. The film is about a man who falls in love with his artificial intelligence operating system, and is a very interesting commentary on relationships and technology. While it is critically loved (93% on Rotten Tomatoes), it did not connect with audiences as much as was expected.

It made $5.3 million in 1,729 theatres and brought in a per theatre average of $3,092. While that is not what they had hoped, this movie did make it to more theatres than Jonze’s previous movies Adaptation and Being John Malkovich with neither of them passing 700 theatres.

One bright spot in the world of limited release movies was the performance of August: Osage County, which expanded from five theatres to 905 theatres last weekend. The movie has a large cast of Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis, and Benedict Cumberbatch. The film made $7.1 million, which was good enough to land it in seventh place. It averaged $7,910 per theatre, which was second only to Lone Survivor’s $13,161 per theatre.