The Oscar best picture race has lit up the box office this season, something that hardly ever happens. The reason is that the domestic films this year out of the major studios have all been good.  Four movies upcoming with all probably be, at the very least, $100 million babies: Zero Dark Thirty, Les Miserables, Django Unchained, The Hobbit.

This weekend’s box office put Ben Affleck’s Argo over the $100 million mark. How are the Oscar contenders doing? Lincoln is probably the most impressive of the bunch, having made so much money so fast in fewer locations. Strong word of mouth is driving its box office upwards and it could end up being the highest grossing of the Best Picture nominees.

The Oscar contenders that had the highest per theater average were Rust and Bone, $12,000, Silver Linings Playbook, at around $9,000, Hitchcock with $8,000, Lincoln, at around $6,000. Anna Karenina hanging in there with $5,000, and Life of Pi, with $4,000. Life of Pi matches, give or take, the two number one movies at the box office this weekend, Twilight and Skyfall.

Argo $101,005,000
Lincoln $83,698,000
Flight $81,527,000
Life of Pi $48,361,000
Moonrise Kingdom $45,512,466
Silver Linings Playbook $10,991,000
Anna Karenina $4,084,000


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  • mecid

    Actually Lincoln made it in 3 weeks. First week was 11 locations.

  • Happy that box office doesn’t look likely to derail any of the Oscar contenders this year. I’m always disappointed when films fall out of favour with voters because people aren’t turning up to see them in mass volume. Maybe The Master didn’t end up doing brilliantly, but it has that opening weekend record anyway, and that’s impressive enough.

    Also happy that the one film underperforming at the box office is Silver Linings Playbook. TWC fucked it a little with that release pattern.

    Zero Dark Thirty will be lucky to get to $100m. It has a shot, but it’s not as sure as either Les Mis or The Hobbit. Django also might not make it with its 2h45 length, although this is something that all these upcoming big hitters have in common – they’re all over 2.5 hours. Will people bother to turn out for all four?

  • Jerry

    Can’t really compare the per theater average of a film playing in a few theaters like Rust and Bone to a wide release such as Life of Pi. Rust and Bone is only playing at two locations, the less theaters you are playing in the higher your PTA should be. A PTA of only $12,900 for Rust and Bone playing in 2 theaters is really, really low (Lincoln had over $80,000). Life of Pi on the other hand is doing well to have a PTA of $4,000 in wide release. Not spectacular but good.

  • mecid

    if expands Lincoln can get 1st place next weekend. It will hit 100 million next weekend.

  • Rust and Bone is pulling in very modest numbers. I’m losing faith in a nomination for Marion Cotillard fast.

  • steandric

    Congratulations on the flop of Silver Lining Playbook!

  • Jack Traven II

    Most of the films that are being talked about, The Hobbit, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, Lincoln and Flight, will be released over here within six weeks, beginning on December 13. Gee, that’s gonna be so damn costly that I’ll probably have to choose which one of these I’m willing to afford. I mean, how fucked up is that, huh? How do I choose one unseen film over another unseen film? Do I favour Hobbit over Beasts? Or ZDT over Django? I don’t know yet. Damnit!

  • Tero Heikkinen

    I can’t believe that Zero Dark Thirty would make 100M. More like 70M tops. Inglourious Basterds made 120M so I think Django will pass 100M, too.

  • brian

    Just can’t bring myself to go and see Lincoln … I feel it would be like sitting down to watch The History Channel for 2 1/2 hours.

  • Sasha Stone

    Thanks, Jerry. I must admit I don’t really understand how theater averages work. 🙁

  • PJ

    I think those burying SLP will be in for a surprise in the coming weeks.

  • Filipe

    A little off topic, Django Unchained is getting very good notices from its screenings on Twitter. Some called it a sure-fire awards contender, but Jeff Wells (a Tarantino hater) dismissed it for Oscars. DiCaprio is getting good notices, but not as good as we hoped, on the other hand, Samuel L. Jackson is surprising the most, while Waltz and Foxx nailed the lead roles. There’s a summary of the (mini-)”reviews” here:—Early-Twitter-Reaction-to-screening.aspx

  • brian


    SLP may not win any awards, but for people like me who absolutely loved the film it matters not. It’s great that you were able to find enjoyment from SLP not performing very well at the box office. In that respect, maybe the film has something for everyone, including people like yourself who are thrilled when the movies they despise fail miserably at the box office. Clearly, affirming your ego was of the utmost importance to the entire cast and crew of SLP. The world has done something for you, as it should. I mean c’mon, you exist at the center of the universe, right?


  • Thanks Filipe. I didn’t get to see those tweets yesterday. I’m glad people didn’t mind the violence. I am a little surprised that people are surprised by Don Johnson. He was always awesome. 🙂

    Can’t wait to see it but I will.

    What’s the deal now with the DGA and Quentin? He wasn’t in it before? I guess that should make a difference then, right?

  • helios


    Go see Twilight instead (if you haven’t already). That might appeal to you.

  • Christophe

    According to BO Mojo, Life of Pi already reaches $108M WW thx to USA/CHINA/INDIA/SPAIN. It still has to open in most of Europe, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, Japan, so it has the potential to be big and maybe even turn a profit. Won’t be an utter flop after all, yet that was a tough sell.

  • PaulZ

    Lol at people declaring SLP A flop.

    You should study box office numbers a little more.

    I am not saying it s going to be a huge succes but it is way too early to make a call of that nature.

    The movie still plays in less than 400 screens and this week end, it has one of the best average/screen and one of the smallest decline percentage wise compared to last week.

    Let s see how Weinstein’s strayegy unfolds for this.

  • Josh

    Was surprised to see Killing Them Softly bomb so bad this weekend. And the cinemascore is an ‘F’. Yikes.

  • Jason

    Finally got to see both Life of Pi and Lincoln last night. Both were fantastic, easily two of the best films of the year. Lincoln actually got a fairly substantial applause at the end, which is incredibly unusual around here. Usually I only hear that during midnight openings of big blockbusters. It was a very welcome surprise!

    I’m definitely in the Lincoln camp now.

  • kirenaj

    Saw Argo and Beasts Of The Southern Wild this weekend (These two and Moonrise Kingdom are all I have seen of the contenders for nominations this year).

    Argo was very professionally made, and very suspenseful when it got going. It is about 10 minutes too long, and there are at least one scene too many where the plan is saved in the last second when everything seems lost. The film has almost everyhing that belongs in a good caper-flic, but it doesn’t really do anything more interesting with it; this is Affleck, not Melville. A solid movie that may belong in one of the 6-10 spots in the best picture line-up, but a year where this is the best picture of the year is not a very good year.

    Beasts is more memorable and original. There is something joyful about it that almost made me overlook the magical realism parts (I generally hate magical realism, but this movie almost pulled it off). The performances were good to great, and some of the visuals were impressive. I will probably have to see it again to see if it really sticks, but I see this getting some of the “Tree Of Life” voters.

  • JC

    Anyone calling Silver Linings Playbook a flop knows nothing about how the box office works. The film has yet to go wide, playing in only 15% of the theaters of many of the others. It’s #11 at the box office while being in 1/4th the amount of screens as any movie in the top ten. The film is on pace for a $40m plus gross, historically speaking, and that’s without an Oscar bounce…not bad for a film that cost $21m. By no means is the film a flop. (I have not seen the film, so I’m not defending it…just saying if you criticize it’s box office, best to hush up.)

    In contrast, Life Of Pi has yet to show itself as a money winner for the studio. Even with $60m overseas so far, it needs at least another $130m to break even. Critically well received..but, at the moment, still costly, by far the lowest performer compared to its budget.

  • PaulH

    ZD30 will be lucky to make $40m with a no-name cast (save for Chastain and Chandler).

  • PaulH

    JC, Pi dropped over 45% from last weekend as well. Not the 70% freefall of a twilight movie’s 2nd weekend, but it will struggle to get to $90m domestic.

  • JC


    Yep. Pi could make as little as $75m (before any Oscar bounce/re-release)…best case, if it makes it to Christmas with many screens left, is looking like $90-95m. Lincoln is looking at $110m+ as a base, could be much more, again, without any awards bounce. Flight will cap out just north of $90m, probably more than Life Of Pi, even though it’s budget is 20% as much. Again, financial success is relative…

    I’m not sure I’d agree Zero Dark Thirty will be lucky to make $40m. Though, it will be lucky to make $100m, as Sasha states…if nothing else, based on its 2 1/2 hr+ running time. Though, remember…the absolutely horrible (and un-watchable) ACT OF VALOR grossed $70m with no stars in it. While perhaps more rah-rah in the Red States than Zero Dark Thirty…Zero Dark Thirty’s going to ride stellar reviews and a “Bin Laden” movie is appealing to the masses.

  • PaulH

    JC, it’s still a Kathryn Bigelow movie. Boxoffice death, in plainer language. And we got to see ZD30 for free last month on the National Geographic channel, as it were, when they aired their getting Bin Laden movie. Bigelow’s next commercial success will be her first.

  • JC


    We’ll see. I get what you’re saying, and it wouldn’t shock me if it doesn’t go anywhere box office wise. But I wouldn’t have wagered the 2h30m historically based Lincoln would be a sure bet for $110m a month ago either. Sure, it’s Spielberg, but that’s not all of it. Its gross doesn’t surprise me, though, either…I think Zero Dark Thirty just has a big range of possibility, either upside or downside.

  • JamDenTel

    Argo made it to $100 million.

    Holy Motors will be lucky to make 1% of that.

    That makes me very sad.

  • Harmonica

    I think it’s nearly impossible for ZD30 to reach U$100M. Heck, the way I see it after reading some reviews, it’ll be lucky to reach U$40M.

  • steandric

    ‘The Impossible’ Sweeps Past ‘Titanic’ at Spain Box Office

    Dec 6, 2012 The Hollywood Reporter

    Starring Naomi Watts, Ewan Mcgregor and Tom Holland, director Juan Antonio Bayona’s drama has sold more than 5.6 million tickets and made 40 million euros in less than two months in theaters.

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