Ender's Game May Already Be Over; Last Vegas Is For The Birds - Week 1 | The Hunger Games: Catching Fire | Frozen | The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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Ender's Game May Already Be Over; Last Vegas Is For The Birds - Week 1

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Thor: The Dark World
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Last Vegas
Ender's Game
Free Birds
The 2013 Holiday Movie Season started with three films trying to win gold medals in the first weekend and the best they could come up with was a pewter thimble and two aluminum bottle caps. The two opening films last year (Wreck-It Ralph and Flight) combined to make almost $75 million. This year three films barely made $60 million. You can almost hear the spin doctors now (and no, I don't mean Little Miss Can't Be Wrong or Two Princes): "The 2013 Holiday Movie Season: It's 80% as good as last year as long as we release more movies to underperform!"

Starting things off (or "ending" things off), Ender's Game won $28 million over its first three days. In a vacuum, this doesn't seem so bad, yet that just shows you've never actually been in a vacuum. There's hair, there's dust, and you don't want to know what else. In the box-office world, most "big-budget" releases make a third of their total gross in the opening weekend. Projecting this out, that puts Ender's Game in the $84 million range. This isn't usually "Top Five Movies of the Season" terrain. It's more like the John Carter/Battleship/Jack The Giant Slayer poo poo platter.

Think there's any connection between Michael Douglas' recent separation with Catherine Zeta-Jones and the fact his last two projects have been filmed in Las Vegas? Maybe what happened in Vegas didn't stay there. Regardless, the city will be ready to send him packing after Last Vegas opened with a meek $16.5 million debut. Even Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher's What Happens in Vegas started with $20 million. Getting Punk'd by Kutcher is something none of these Hollywood Walk-of-Famers wanted on their résumé.

Think there was a race to see which box-office report used the "Free Birds is the First Turkey of the Year" headline? While the movie's $16.2 million start certainly didn't plump while cooking, the film did have a leg on the other lowest animated disappointment of 2013: Escape From Planet Earth. With Woody Harrelson literally being the star of Holiday Season with three movies coming out in a span of five weeks, folks will quickly forget about the performance here once The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is released... and they've already forgotten about Out of the Furnace before it even came out.

The Top Five If Today Was Martin Luther King Jr. Observance:
#1. Ender's Game - $28 million
#2. Last Vegas - $16.5 million
#3. Free Birds - $16.2 million
#4. n/a
#5. n/a


Extra Bonus Section

Since many ask (and, yes, I think three counts as "many"), I like to share my top five picks and the rationale behind them in every Week 1 report. Here is a chance for me to share with you my brilliance before losing my own pool for the 32nd consecutive time. I'm not going to lie... I feel really good about my picks this year. The top four are for-sure locks! Which means, as always, I'm totally doomed.

1. There's no way The Hunger Games: Catching Fire doesn't win. The first film made over $400 million!!! Yeah, I had to look that number up because I forgot it was that big a hit myself, and that's why I don't think this one will be "as big" a smash, but smashing it still will do... To my estimated tune of $357 million. Remember, it's the teen series where people actually liked the books. This is bigger than Twilight (and half the calories)!

2. Following in the footsteps of last year (literally, "We're walking... We're walking..."), here comes The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The Unexpected Journey made almost $300 million in five weeks and it should be more of the same for Part Deux. There's not a husband alive that doesn't want to escape the in-laws for three hours over the holidays. Could they make these movies even longer?

3. Thor never quit measured up to Iron Man at the box-office and history will repeat itself with Thor: The Dark World. I see it besting the first Thor movie's $181 million and ending up with around $250 million, but his hammer's not enough to stop a half-ling's ring and Katniss Everdeen's arrows.

4. I'm banking heavily on Frozen being this year's Tangled, which was Disney Animation's best movie since Mulan. If it can reach that same $200 million plateau, there will be warm hearts all over the Magic Kingdom. Please, no Princess and the Frog, no Princess and the Frog!

5. After feeling really confident with the top four, the fifth spot became a grab bag. I sensed even if Ender's Game was a hit, it'd be more in the $120-$140 million range. I really, really hope The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is as good as it looks, but it currently has zero buzz and it's not trying to be whimsical in a family-film way like Night at the Museum. That left me with Saving Mr. Banks (which looks like a film I'd see with my parents, not my kids) and Anchorman 2 as my two strongest candidates. Ron Burgundy for the win! Yes, I'm nervous about this being a sequel the internet tweets about and real people don't actually go out to see, but if the hipsters and teenagers are going to see a "fun" movie over Christmas Break, it's not going to be Grudge Match.

by Matt Neuenburg on 11/04/2013

Movies Mentioned in this Post: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Ender's Game, Free Birds, Frozen, Last Vegas, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Thor: The Dark World
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