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Box office report: 'Thor: The Dark World' smashes competition with $86.1 million debut


Thor: The Dark World debuted mightily atop the domestic box office this weekend, hammering up $86.1 million from 3,841 theaters, which gave Disney’s $170 million 3-D sequel a blazing $22,418 per theater average.

Thanks to the Norse superhero’s increased exposure in last year’s mega-smash The Avengers, The Dark World debuted 31 percent higher than 2011’s Thor, which earned $65.7 million over its first three days in theaters. The film didn’t enjoy as big of a boost as Iron Man 3, which opened with $174.1 million, a 34 percent improvement over Iron Man 2‘s debut — and still the best debut of 2013. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'Thor: The Dark World' tops Friday with $31.6 million


Marvel’s $170 million 3-D sequel Thor: The Dark World topped the box office on its opening Friday, though it proved less mighty than most analysts were expecting.

The film earned $31.6 million yesterday, a 24 percent increase over the original Thor‘s $25.5 million first Friday in 2011. Thor wound up with a $65.7 million opening, and if The Dark World performs similarly it should earn between $75 and $80 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period. That’s certainly not a bad total — but considering Iron Man 3 opened 36 percent higher than Iron Man 2 following The Avengers, it’s pretty disappointing. Audiences issued Thor: The Dark World an “A-” CinemaScore.

In second place, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa pulled in another $3.4 million on Friday, which should lead to an $11.5 million weekend. The $15 million Paramount film should have about $79 million total by Sunday night.

Last Vegas scored $3.2 million, which will yield about $11 million for its second weekend. CBS Films’ elderly Vegas comedy will have about $37.5 million against a $28 million budget after this weekend.

Ender’s Game plummeted 70 percent from its first Friday to a weak $2.9 million. The film will earn about $10 million for the weekend — giving it a scary low $43 million in its first ten days. Why is that scary? Because it cost Summit a whopping $110 million to produce.

Rounding out the Top 5 was Free Birds, which flapped away with $2.6 million. The Thanksgiving-themed family film will likely only drop by about 30 percent in its sophomore frame, giving the $55 million film $30 million total.

Check back tomorrow for the full box office report.

Box office preview: Can 'Thor: The Dark World' hammer up a $100 million debut?

When The Avengers earned over $600 million in the U.S. and $1.5 billion worldwide last year, Disney eagerly set its sights on Iron Man 3, hoping that the Tony Stark solo show would get a major box office boost thanks to The Avengers‘ exposure — even without a patriotic mega-soldier and a hulking green monster onscreen beside him. Well, Disney’s plan worked — and then some.

Iron Man 3 earned $409 million domestically and $1.2 billion worldwide, and it opened 36 percent above its predecessor Iron Man 2, which topped out at $312 million in the U.S. and $623 million globally. Immediately after Iron Man 3‘s stellar run this summer, prognosticators began speculating whether each individual member of The Avengers team would see such a spike for their spin-off films — which brings us to Thor: The Dark World. READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'Ender's Game' on top with $28 million; 'Thor' scores mighty $109 million overseas

It’s taken over two decades for Orson Scott Card’s classic sci-fi novel Ender’s Game to make it to the big screen, but all the built-up anticipation didn’t lead to out-of-this-world box office numbers. The film adaptation debuted with $28 million from 3,407 theaters on its first weekend — a start in the same range as Will Smith’s misfire After Earth, which opened with $27.5 million earlier this year. Summit and OddLot Entertainment spent $110 million on the space adventure starring Asa Butterfield and Harrison Ford, but Ender’s Game will need great legs domestically and strong returns overseas to justify its cost (and any potential sequels).

Of course, the film didn’t bomb the way other YA-adaptations like The Host, Beautiful Creatures, or The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones have recently, but its opening was nowhere near the debuts of Twilight or Hunger Games, both of which had less expensive first editions than Ender’s Game. Notably, both of those films targeted young women primarily, while Ender’s Game‘s audience was 58 percent male and 54 percent above the age of 25. Crowds issued the film an average “B+” CinemaScore grade.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa held up very nicely in second place, dropping just 36 percent to $20.5 million. That is by far the smallest second-weekend drop for any of the Jackass films, and it gives Paramount’s $15 million prank comedy $62.1 million total after ten days. If Bad Grandpa continues to maintain great holds at the box office, it could exceed $100 million total. Take that, Oscar season! READ FULL STORY

'Ender's Game': About that ending...

[Warning: Huge, epic, intergalactic spoilers to follow. Consider yourself warned, launchie.]

Like a lot of other movie fans (about $9.9 million worth of them, actually), I went to Ender’s Game last night to see how Orson Scott Card’s sci-fi saga fared in its translation to the big screen. I  read the book a while back, and was glad to see plenty of my favorite parts adapted pretty well: The Battle Room looked remarkably similar to the way I imagined it, kind of a mix between a laser tag arena and a Tron playground. The tension between Ender and his classmates — especially Bonzo — felt spot-on, and even that weird computer mind-game (which I was betting they’d cut out of the movie since it would be too hard to explain/create) looked like a totally feasible version of a superfuturistic PlayStation. Plus the final battle “simulation” was a genuinely cool CGI giant-ships-versus-planet sequence.

But about twenty minutes after being wowed by that, I found myself leaving the theater a little confused. To refresh (or for those who don’t mind spoilers): Ender realizes that he’s just committed genocide, stumbles out of the command center, wanders into a Formic cave, discovers an egg, has a telepathic conversation with a dying Formic queen who WIPES HIS TEARS AWAY WITH HER GIANT ANT FOOT, and then sets off to colonize a new Formic world with his egg. At this point I had three main thoughts, in roughly this order: 1. Wha. 2. Tha? 3. F$%#.

To be fair, the book’s ending is pretty out-there too, since it packs one huge revelation after another and spins the story in an entirely new direction. And editing was necessary to keep the movie under, I don’t know, seventeen-and-a-half hours long. (It actually clocked in at a brisk 114 minutes.) But there was a huge amount happening here — our first real glimpse of a Formic, Ender’s change of heart, the whole craziness with the game being a conduit for telepathic communication with the alien ant people (honestly just reread that phrase a couple times). It all hit so hard and fast that I felt like I had accidentally fallen asleep and missed the 30 minutes of solid exposition we’d need to get to that point. I still say kudos to the filmmakers for wrangling such an unwieldy story into a workable movie — it’s a huge achievement. But as far as endings go, Ender’s left me more than a little puzzled.

And I even read the book  — which makes me especially curious about people who didn’t. Did the ending make sense to you? Were you able to follow what was happening, or did you have to lean over to your well-read friends for a quick Cliff’s Notes? (Or more likely, hit up Wikipedia when you got home.) And for people who did read the books — Did the ending wrap things up (slash set them up for a sequel) the way you had imagined? Sound off in the comments!

Box office update: 'Ender's Game' lifts off with $9.9 million Friday, 'Last Vegas' cooks 'Free Birds'

Summit and OddLot Entertainment’s $110 million adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s sci-fi classic Ender’s Game blasted off in first place with $9.9 million on Friday. The film, which stars Asa Butterfield and Harrison Ford, will likely gross about $26 million over its first three days, which is more than YA fare like The Mortal Instruments or The Host, but nowhere close to Twilight or The Hunger Games.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa held up very nicely in second place with $6.1 million, marking a 52 percent drop from last Friday. (That’s pretty great for a spinoff sequel targeting teen moviegoers, who tend to rush to the theater on opening weekend.) The film will level off for the rest of the weekend and may end up dropping only about 40 percent to $19 million, which would give it $60 million total against a $15 million budget. READ FULL STORY

Critical Mass: Is 'Ender's Game' the next big YA franchise? Or is it 'The Golden Compass'?

Nearly 30 years after Orson Scott Card published the best-selling Ender’s Game, the Hugo-Award winning science-fiction novel receives the full Hollywood treatment from the studio behind The Hurt Locker and Twilight. Those two films are perhaps relevant, because Ender’s Game tells the story of young teens, led by Hugo‘s Asa Butterfield, who are tasked with the very-adult responsibility of going to war to defend mankind.

In the future, Earth barely survived an alien invasion, and 50 years later, the planet’s military commanders, led by Harrison Ford, are expecting another attack any day. To prepare, they’ve recruited child-soldiers whose minds are especially agile and suited for a new brand of warfare.

Written and directed by Gavin Hood (Wolverine), and starring a coterie of Oscar-nominated actors — Viola Davis, Ben Kingsley, Abigail Breslin, Hailee Steinfeld — Ender’s Game has been stifled by threats of boycott from those offended by Card’s anti-gay politics. The film, however, stands on its own, and now that it’s in theaters, perhaps it can finally be allowed to speak for itself. EW’s critic Chris Nashawaty predicts that Ender’s Game is one of those “beloved novels … that wound up getting sapped of their original spark and power on the way to the big screen,” hinting that its fate will ultimately be more The Golden Compass than Harry Potter or The Hunger Games.

But the film has its defenders, too. Click below to see what the nation’s critics think before heading to the theater. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: 'Ender's Game' ready for battle

Just one week after Gravity bequeathed its box office throne to Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, another space tale will likely soar into the top spot at the U.S. marketplace. The long-awaited adaptation of sci-fi classic Ender’s Game hits theaters this weekend, and though it should be able to score a solid win, its tracking leaves a lot to be desired. Two other films are also opening: the elder statesmen comedy Last Vegas and the animated Thanksgiving tale Free Birds. Neither are expected to bring too much cha-ching.

Here’s how the box office might shake out:

1. Ender’s Game – $26 million
Summit and OddLot Entertainment co-financed this $110 million adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s beloved sci-fi novel about a young boy who is recruited to a military school in space and manipulated by every adult around him. The film stars Hugo‘s Asa Butterfield in the title role, as well as Harrison Ford as Colonel Hyrum Graff. Curiously, Summit has all but hidden Butterfield in Ender’s Game‘s marketing campaign, instead focusing almost exclusively on Ford. Granted, he’s an iconic superstar with multi-generational appeal, but you’d think that Lionsgate, Summit’s parent company, would have learned the importance of establishing a protagonist from its remarkably successful Hunger Games campaign.

Tracking for Ender’s Game has been relatively mild, and the controversy surrounding Card’s views on gay marriage have garnered negative publicity for the film. But the reality is that young adult fantasy franchises are notoriously difficult to launch. For every Hunger Games or Harry Potter, there are many more bombs like Beautiful Creatures or The Mortal Instruments, and there’s rarely a clear reason why giant literary hits don’t connect on screen. YA fans are a rather fickle bunch — though Ender’s Game has been a hit since 1985, and it has a legion of older fans as well. Thus, Ender’s Game won’t stoop as low as Mortal Instruments, but it might perform similarly to Eragon ($23 million opening, $75 million total) or The Spiderwick Chronicles ($19 million, $71 million). Opening in 3,407 theaters, expect the film to earn about $26 million this weekend. READ FULL STORY

'Ender's Game' author Orson Scott Card talks backlash: 'I've had no criticism. I've had savage...personal attacks' -- VIDEO


How does Ender’s Game author Orson Scott Card respond to the criticism he’s received over his stance on same-sex marriage — namely, his overt, vehement opposition to it?

Simple: He doesn’t think he’s been fairly criticized in the first place.

“I’ve had no criticism. I’ve had savage, lying, deceptive personal attacks, but no actual criticism, because they’ve never addressed any of my actual ideas,” Card told Salt Lake City’s Deseret News on Sunday. “Character assassination seems to be the only political method that is in use today, and I don’t play that game, and you can’t defend against it,” he continued. “All you can do is try to offer ideas, and for those who want to listen to ideas, great. For those who simply want to punish you for not falling in line with their dogmas, there’s really not much you can do about it.”

'Ender's Game' premiere: 'I am distressed by Orson's position on gay marriage' says Gavin Hood


When Hollywood sinks millions into the effort to adapt a beloved YA novel, the author is typically elevated to red-carpet celebrity, as big a star as the actors bringing his or her characters to life. But at Monday night’s Ender’s Game premiere at Los Angeles’ TCL Chinese Theatre, Orson Scott Card was nowhere near a microphone or tape recorder.

Card’s anti gay-marriage views have hampered Lionsgate’s ambitious sci-fi production since at least one gay and lesbian organization threatened to boycott the film over the summer. Though the movie, about a young military prodigy (Asa Butterfield) who’s groomed by a gruff commander (Harrison Ford) to destroy an alien race, doesn’t reference Card’s controversial views, Lionsgate has been troubled by what the author’s baggage might cost them at the box-office when the film opens in theaters on Friday. The studio put out a statement in July that distanced the film’s message with Card’s personal views, and director Gavin Hood sat for a long interview with the gay and lesbian publication The Advocate to reassure those who were contemplating a boycott.

On Monday night’s red-carpet, Hood and the film’s producers fielded questions again — perhaps for the last time before the paying public delivers its verdict with its wallets. “The book is a fantastic book full of wonderful themes like compassion and tolerance and I am distressed by Orson’s position on gay marriage,” Hood said. READ FULL STORY

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