As the only new nationwide release this weekend, The Best Man Holiday exceeded all expectations with a very impressive $30 million haul. Still, superhero sequel Thor: The Dark World managed to hang on to first place.
In its second weekend, Thor added $36.6 million for a 10-day total of $145.1 million. That's down 57 percent from opening, which is much steeper than the first Thor's decline (47 percent). It is at least on par with Iron Man 3 (58 percent), and is also a slight improvement over other Marvel titles like Captain America and The Incredible Hulk. It's currently on pace for a final domestic tally north of $225 million.
At 2,024 locations, The Best Man Holiday opened in second place with an outstanding $30.1 million. In comparison, the original The Best Man debuted to $9 million when it hit theaters over 14 years ago; adjusted for ticket price inflation, that's only $14 million, meaning Best Man Holiday more-than-doubled its predecessor in initial ticket sales.
This is also a very impressive figure compared to recent movies with largely African-American casts. It's higher than all-but-one of Tyler Perry's movies—2009's Madea Goes to Jail is the exception—and it's also only a bit behind last year's smash hit Think Like a Man ($33.6 million).
Whenever a movie targeted at African Americans does strong business, it serves as a reminder that this is an audience that has historically been underserved by Hollywood. It's simplistic and inaccurate, though, to assume that any movie with a largely African-American cast is going to be successful. If that were the case, 2013's Baggage Claim and Tyler Perry Presents Peeples would have opened to more than $9 million and $4.6 million, respectively. Simply making a movie that's targeted to a specific audience isn't enough—the movie actually has to seem appealing to that audience. The Best Man Holiday was in an advantageous position, of course, because of its strong brand: while the original Best Man only did modest business in theaters, many have discovered and enjoyed the movie in the years since. Universal's marketing portrayed the sequel as a reunion of sorts for these characters and the actors, some of whom have seen their stars rise in the last 14 years. Setting the movie at Christmas helped amplify this theme, as the holiday season is widely regarded as a time to reconnect with old friends. It didn't hurt that previews struck a nice balance between comedy, romance and drama, and made the movie look like a good time.
According to Universal's exit polling, an overwhelming portion of the audience was African American (87 percent). The audience also skewed older (63 percent above 35 years of age) and female (75 percent). They awarded the movie a rare "A+" CinemaScore, which suggests word-of-mouth will be strong. At this point, it seems safe to assume that The Best Man Holiday will earn at least $80 million by the end of its run.
In third place, Last Vegas dipped 24 percent to $8.4 million. To date, it has earned $46.5 million, and is a week away from passing The Woman in Black ($54.3 million) to become the highest-grossing movie ever for CBS Films. Free Birds eased 27 percent to $8.1 million for a new total of $42 million. Meanwhile, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa rounded out the Top Five with $7.4 million; to date, it has grossed an impressive $89.95 million, and remains on track for over $100 million total.
In its seventh weekend, Gravity added $6.1 million. The has now grossed $240.4 million, which is good for fifth place in 2013 ahead of Fast & Furious 6. Dallas Buyers Club expanded to 184 locations and cracked the Top 12 with $1.75 million. So far, it has earned $3 million, and should make it in to nationwide release in the next week or two.
Alexander Payne's Nebraska opened to $140,401 at four theaters this weekend. That translates to a per-theater average of $35,100, which is unimpressive for a Payne movie that's received plenty of acclaim and awards attention. The Christmas Candle brought in $68,655 at five locations. The adaptation of the popular Christian book of the same name expands in to around 400 theaters next weekend. Around-the-World Roundup
For the third weekend in a row, Thor: The Dark World ruled the overseas box office. The superhero sequel added $52.5 million for a new total of $332.8 million, which ranks third all-time for the Marvel Cinematic Universe behind The Avengers and Iron Man 3. Its top markets so far are China ($41.8 million) and Russia ($31.6 million), and it's set to expand in to Italy next weekend. Gravity earned $18.5 million from 62 markets this weekend. In the U.K., it eased 16 percent to $7.5 million. Gravity has now earned $274.3 million overseas, which translates to a worldwide total north of $500 million. The international sensation expands in to China on Tuesday, then reaches Japan (its final market) in December; with those two markets added in, there's a chance the movie ultimately earns over $700 million worldwide.
At the same time that its wrapping up its unsuccessful run in the U.S., Ridley Scott's The Counselor expanded to a handful of major overseas markets this weekend. Unfortunately, it's only doing marginally better elsewhere—it earned a strong $2.6 million in France, but bombed in the U.K. with just $1.3 million. Overall, it earned $10.8 million this weekend for a total of $19.3 million.
A week ahead of its highly-anticipated U.S. debut, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opened to $6.3 million in Brazil. That's twice as much as the first Hunger Games ($3.04 million), and would be even better than that if it weren't for the declining value of Brazil's currency in the past 18 months. The Hunger Games earned $283 million overseas, which is a number that Catching Fire is poised to improve on significantly. Along with its U.S. opening, it also reaches the U.K., Australia, Germany, Spain, China, South Korea, Russia and Mexico next weekend.