Universal Pictures, a subsidiary of Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) has proven its sagacity once again. You might think that war movies frequently succeed, but this might result from these movies often covering wars in the distant past, which reduces the risk of backlash.
Lone Survivor isn't about an event long ago, which made this a bold move for Universal Pictures. However, the movie studio wisely based the movie on courage and brotherhood, reducing the odds of any public backlash related to U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and broadening the target audience as well. Not everyone wants to watch a war movie, but most people appreciate a story related to true acts of bravery and reliability. By targeting a broader audience than most war movies, Lone Survivor has a good chance to surpass $100 million at the domestic box office. However, these aren't the only reasons why such a milestone is possible.
Lone Survivor totaled $37.8 million in box office receipts in its opening weekend, which ended January 11. Only one movie in history performed better on an opening weekend in January, Cloverfield. These are two completely different types of movies, but if you happen to be wondering how Cloverfield performed at the domestic box office, its total was $80,048,433. It didn't make it to $100 million, but its budget was just $25 million. It also grossed $170,764,026 worldwide.
Getting back to Lone Survivor, when you compare its opening to opening weekends for similar movies, regardless of what month they opened, it has outperformed several of them, including Zero Dark Thirty, Black Hawk Down, Contraband, and Battleship.
One way to help determine whether Lone Survivor will see its momentum continue is to see what movie critics and moviegoers think of the film. These scores can help produce positive or negative press and word of mouth. Lone Survivor scores 7.9 of 10 on IMDb, which is very solid. It also has an 90% audience approval rating on RottenTomatoes, which is extremely high.
Lone Survivor was the top movie at the box office over the weekend ended January 11, 2014, but only domestically. For the weekend ended January 19, Lone Survivor grossed $22 million domestically. The top performer for the weekend was another Universal film, Ride Along, which grossed $41.6 million.
The worldwide winner for the weekend ended January 11 might surprise you. Then again, maybe not. This movie also finished fifth at the domestic box office for the weekend ended January 19.
Still not thawing out
Walt Disney's (NYSE:DIS) Frozen isn't done yet. It was the worldwide box-office winner for the weekend ended January 11, generating $27.8 million in box-office receipts. It also recently passed Tangled for total worldwide box-office receipts and now stands at $394.6 million versus Tangled's $391 million. For the weekend ended January 19, its domestic box office receipts totaled $11.8 million.
For the weekend ended January 11, Frozen was second at the domestic box office for the weekend and it now ranks No. 4 of all-time for best performance in a movie's seventh weekend. Only Avatar, Titanic, and Passion of the Christ performed better. Frozen's domestic box office sales slid 25% for the weekend ended January 11, and 19.5% for the weekend ended January 19, but the movie still has more potential since in South Korea, Turkey, China, and Japan.
Another movie that still has much potential on the international front is The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which is a Warner Bros. production. Warner Bros. is a subsidiary of Time Warner (NYSE:TWX.DL).
To date, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has reached a worldwide box-office sales total of $834.3 million. The big question is whether or not it will hit $1 billion based on the two markets it has yet to reach: China and Japan. I'd prefer not to make this call. If you'd like to know more about Time Warner's Warner Bros. and its performance in 2013, as well as its future potential, strongly consider reading "What Movie Studio Dominated in 2013?"
The Foolish bottom line
Lone Survivor is only one example of Universal Pictures' savvy, but every product the studio puts out matters. Universal Pictures has consistently produced quality content. If you're interested in investing in Universal Pictures, then you might want to dig deeper into Comcast. In regards to Lone Survivor grossing $100 million domestically, it's already at $77.2 million. Therefore, surpassing the $100 million mark is likely.
As far as Disney goes, Frozen is one of many examples of the company's ability to attract massive audiences. Disney is a well-oiled machine, as it always has been. It's broadly diversified with film and television entertainment, theme parks, merchandising, and cruise lines. In other words, Disney likely to remain a high-quality investment.
Time Warner constantly produces profitable movies and many have been successful. Once again, consider reading "What Movie Studio Dominated in 2013?" for more information.
Dan Moskowitz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.