This is one of my more accurate, but ultimately misleading box-office titles. What I mean by “leggy” is a movie with great word of mouth, and what I mean by “adult” is a film that is not aimed at children. In other words, I’m talking about a movie like Gravity, which — thanks to terrific word of mouth — has had great legs at the box office, falling only 20 percent from its first weekend to its second weekend, which is almost unheard of in an era in which box office is generally so front loaded that a movie can expect one-third of its entire box-office run to come in the first three days of release. Most movies these days fall 40 to 50 percent (or more) after their first weekend, and only those with truly terrific word of mouth buck that trend.
Indeed, Gravity held on to the top spot this weekend, adding another $44 million to its total after opening last weekend with $55 million. It’s biggest challenger was Captain Phillips, which is trying to capture the same word-of-mouth buzz as its predecessor from the same weekend of release weekend last year, Argo. The Ben Affleck Oscar winner actually has the best second weekend hold of any movie that’s ever opened in over 3000 theaters (Gravity is third in that category, behind Taken). With a better than expected $26 million and very good word of mouth, Tom Hanks’ Captain Phillips may be able to replicate the success of Argo.
Now, let’s take a look at the 30 Leggiest Movies of the modern era (since 1982). In order get a better, more accurate picture about what movies were driven by word of mouth, rather than scheduling, I omitted movies that opened around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, since their box-office totals typically bounce, not necessarily because of word of mouth, but because more people go to the movies on Thanksgiving weekend and Christmas break. I also took out the kids’ movies because they tend to naturally have better legs. Kids aren’t in a rush to see movies on opening weekend, and there are generally only one or two kids movies released every six to eight weeks, so there’s less competition. They succeed less because of word of mouth, and more because they’re the only options in town.
In other words, I took out the outliers so we could strictly focus on word-of-mouth hits.
1. The Sixth Sense (3.4 percent drop)
2. The Fugitive (5.6 percent drop)
3. There’s Something About Mary (8.7 percent drop)
4. Twister (9.7 percent drop)
5. Speed (10.5 percent drop)
6. A Time to Kill (10.5 percent drop)
7. Keeping the Faith (10.5 percent drop)
8. Seven (11.3 percent drop)
9. Into the Wild (14 percent drop)
10. Hardball (14.1 percent drop)
11. Tin Cup (15 percent drop)
12. Analyze This (15.3 percent drop)
13. Argo (15 percent drop)
14. Kiss the Girls (15.8 percent drop)
15. The Devil’s Advocate (16 percent drop)
16. Taken (16.9 percent drop)
17. Jurassic Park (18.2 percent drop)
18. The Lincoln Lawyer (18.6 percent drop)
19. The Matrix (18.8 percent drop)
20. Executive Decision (19 percent drop)
21. Liar Liar (19.2 percent drop)
22. Outbreak (19.5 percent drop)
23. Old School (19.6 percent drop)
24. City of Angels (19.8 percent drop)
25. True Lies (20 percent drop)
26. Bridesmaids (20.4 percent drop)
27. Limitless (20.4 percent drop)
28. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (20.7 percent drop)
29 Gravity (20.7 percent drop)
30. I Know What You Did Last Summer (20.9 percent drop)
Why is The Devil’s Advocate or City of Angels on that list? I have no idea.
Meanwhile, I should note that Robert Rodriguez’s Machete Kills laid a huge egg at the box office this weekend, rustling up only $3.7 million, much less than the $11.1 million the first movie opened with.