The Oscar contenders generating box-office heat

“Does my collar look big in this?” Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale  in American Hustle

“Does my collar look big in this?” Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale in American Hustle


Thank Sagan and the stars for awards season. If it weren’t for those cold eight (or so) weeks spanning Christmas and Valentine’s Day, box-office figures would be permanently yoked to beachball and deckchair sales, as a quirky statistical spike of summer.

To this end, most of this season’s Oscar contenders – save The Dallas Buyers Club, released here on February 7th – have already come out to play. Last weekend, The Wolf of Wall Street debuted at the top of the Irish chart with 1497,873. On its second week of release, 12 Years a Slave boasts a running total of 1726,175. American Hustle, its primary gong rival, has taken 1999,522 after five weeks.

Philomena, meanwhile, is still out there, with 11.3 million (and counting) in its Irish kitty. As is Gravity with 12.2 million.

Big movies – well, d’uh – continue to make big money. Franchises continue to muster decent business. Hunger Games: Catching Fire took 12,730,127 over five weeks; last weekend The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was sitting on

But the demographic shifts observed in the Republic of Ireland marketplace last year remain evident. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues – arriving on the back on an exemplary and expansive publicity campaign – has raked in 11,916,685 on its fifth week in Irish cinemas. It’s a good showing but it’s a far cry from the days when twentysomethings were so much more plentiful on the ground. Back in 2009, The Hangover took 14,888,249. And as recently as 2011, Bridesmaids scored 14,310,172, with several boffo comedies nipping at its heels, notably The Guard (14,029,322), The Inbetweeners Movie (13,090,494) and The Hangover 2 (13,888,913). Last year, by comparison, The Hangover 3 managed just a little under 12.5 million.

It’s not a catastrophe: ROI admissions did, according to the nice folks at Carlton Screen Advertising, drop by 5 percent (from 1107 million to 1102 million) in 2013. But cinema punters abhor a vacuum. Where younger auds once flocked to comedies, older folks now frequent dramas like Captain Phillips and Lincoln.

Over Christmas, at the other end of the spectrum, the new, thriving family sector made a dent with such unlikely low-quality schlock as Moshi Monsters (1234,801 over two weeks) and Walking with Dinosaurs (currently standing
at 1489,182 and the 10th spot in the chart).

Little wonder that Frozen, a genuinely terrific all-ages film, has made 13,062,416 to date and is currently sitting pretty at number four in the box-office chart. That film, of course, is in contention for multiple Oscars.

Thank Sagan and the stars for awards season, right?

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