Universal, in fact, could nab the top two slots over the long holiday, with last weekend's champ "Lone Survivor" expected to hold in the high-$20 million range. That should be enough to beat Paramount's new offering "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit," which pundits predict will gross around $22 million Friday-Sunday.
American Hustle," with 10 nods, and "Wolf," with five, have been the most dominant at the box office of late. Both should ride the accolades through to the Oscar ceremony in early March, pushing their Stateside cumes to $125 million-plus each.
To date, "American Hustle" stands at $103 million domestically; "Wolf of Wall Street" at $80 million.
"Captain Phillips," meanwhile, enters its 14th week at the box office with a domestic to date total of $105 million. Sony is expanding the film to more than 900 locations.
Another pair likely to see a sizable Oscar boost is the Weinstein Co.'s "Philomena," which received four nominations, including a surprise mention for best picture, and Warner Bros.' "Her," with five noms. In eight weeks, the Judi Dench-starring "Philomena" has grossed $22 million domestically, while Spike Jonze's intimate futuristic drama has struggled to gain steam with just under $10 million.
"Her" was also awarded screenplay honors at the Golden Globes, while "American Hustle" and "Gravity" nabbed the picture trophies.
Box Office: Five Films Poised to Benefit Most From Golden Globes Wins
Aside from the Oscar pics, the market is even more congested with two additional wide releases -- Open Road's 3D toon "The Nut Job" and Fox's horror pic "Devil's Due." "The Nut Job" is expected to open with slightly less than the $15 million of Relativity Media's "Free Birds" last November; meanwhile, the Fox film isn't expected to break the $10 million mark.
With "Jack Ryan" and "Lone Survivor" added to the wide expansions of "Gravity" and "12 Years a Slave" (both played at fewer than 160 locations last weekend), there are plenty of films for adult viewers to choose.
And while "Gravity" -- which has cumed more than $675 million worldwide, with the U.S. box office contributing north of $256 million -- already stands as a bona fide hit for Warner Bros., Fox Searchlight's "12 Years a Slave" has grossed just shy of $40 million, still a respectable sum for the tough drama.
Warners is hoping to capitalize on repeat business for "Gravity," promoting the 3D space odyssey as an experience meant to be seen (and re-seen) in the theaters.
Meanwhile, Fox Searchlight still has plenty of moviegoers yet to experience "12 Years a Slave," which played at more than 1,400 locations at its widest almost two months ago. The distrib re-launches "12 Years" at 600-plus theaters on Friday, with plans to expand the film to more than 900 next weekend.
As the weekend's predicted B.O. winner, "Ride Along," starring Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, should attract a diverse audience based on broad popularity for its stars, though the film will have a stronghold among African-Americans. Tracking is strongest among young males.
For "Jack Ryan," which cost $60 million to produce, Paramount expects to draw fans of the original franchise, launching the reboot at 300-plus Imax locations. Pic stars Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner and Kenneth Branagh, who also directed the film.
BowingFilm (Distributor): Locations
- The Nut Job (Open Road): 3,427
- Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (Paramount): 3,300+
- Devil's Due (Fox): 2,700+
- Ride Along (Universal): 2,661
- Gravity (WB): 155-900+
- Captain Phillips (Sony): 114-903
- 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight): 114-600+