This may be the last weekend for some time that we can say the following, but let’s get it out of the way: the weekend was terrible. Marred by storms on the East Coast, an already soft card underperformed with Ben Affleck’s Argo being the lone film to pass into 8-figure territory. The $12.4 million haul represents a 25% decline and almost invalidates any assertion that Hurricane Sandy actually mattered, so off we go with a look at the rest of the field to help our judgment call.
New arrivals came in the form of Cloud Atlas and Silent Hill: Revelation which banked $9.4 million and $8.0 million respectfully. Both are atrocious totals for their own reasons. Cloud Atlas was probably more embarrassing of the two because it cost $100 million to make and symbolizes why major studios refuse to gamble on new ideas. Silent Hill on the other hand was the second installment in a franchise that started pretty good, but now its viability is in doubt after a 60% budget downgrade contributed to a proportional degradation in box office power.
Now, judging off that alone you would say ‘oh, well clearly it was the hurricane that messed things up for the industry,’ but then you see the remainder of the top ten and back off the idea. Led by a strong Hotel Transylvania ($9.5 million,) the grouping that also includes Paranormal Activity 4 ($8.7 million,) Taken 2 ($8 million,) Here Comes the Boom ($5.5 million,) and Sinister ($5.1 million) shrank on average 45% between all of them individually. What is more impressive is that statistic includes a 70% decline in business from Paranormal Activity 4. Without the anomaly, the number shrinks to only a -40% average even when discounting Argo.
With a weak box office placed entirely on the new arrivals’ shoulders, we now turn our attention to the coming future of the industry which almost assuredly guarantees this was a blip in a market that has been on the rise since the end of September. The next three weekends have that many $50+ million openings coming up, and the combination of Wreck-It Ralph, Skyfall, and Twilight might just be enough to throw up some records for the month of November. In other words, the next time we call the box office weak might just be in five weekends from now when the pre-Christmas film bonanza for low-budget films takes over. Until then, get comfortable with words like ‘shocker,’ ‘surprise,’ ‘overperform,’ and ‘strong.’