‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Gets Box-Office Boost From War of Words

'Wolf of Wall Street' Gets Box-Office Boost From War of Words

Paramount says it embraced the dialogue, and Martin Scorsese's explicit and edgy black comedy posts a better-than-expected second week

The controversy over “The Wolf of Wall Street” appears to have helped it at the box office.

Director Martin Scorsese‘s R-rated black comedy starring Leonardo DiCaprio finished a solid fourth this weekend with $13.5 million on 2,557 theaters. That's only a 28 percent drop from the $18.3 million first weekend for “Wolf,” and encouraging news for distributor Paramount, since a 50 percent hold is considered good and the severe weather on the East Coast probably cost it another million dollars.

The R-rated film's explicit portrayal of the sex-and-drugs-fueled 1980s stock market boom has divided moviegoers, and the “C” CiinemaScore that it received after its opening made its long-term playability a question mark.

Also read: War Over ‘Wolf of Wall Street': Scorsese's Latest Ignites Online Brouhaha

But the strong second week suggests the emotional discussions – centering on whether it glorifies the lifestyle of DiCaprio's character based on real-life stockbroker Jordan Belfort – aren't hurting and may actually help it.

“We embraced the controversy and dialogue, because ultimately it makes more people aware of the film and curious, and we think if we can get people out, the film will speak for itself,” Paramount's distribution chief Don Harris told TheWrap. “This weekend number is significantly above what we were projecting.”

The film's roughly three-hour running time is a hurdle, too, but Harris said that moviegoers that have carved out time to see the latest Scorsese-DiCaprio teaming have found two things surprising.

Also read: ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Backlash: 10 Other Movies That Made Crime Seem Cool (Photos)

“They say, ‘I didn't think it was that long, and I didn't expect to laugh so much,” he said.

It's up to $63 million domestically since opening on Christmas Day, and the $100 million film financed by Red Granite now looks to have a shot at hitting $100 million domestically.

If “Wolf,” Scorsese or DiCaprio can get some love at next Sunday's Golden Globes and the Jan. 16 Oscar nominations it should get a further boost.

“This is up there with Scorsese's best work, and that's why this film is going to do just fine,” said Harris. ”The Wolf of Wall Street” scored a strong 76% among film critics on aggregrator site RottenTomatoes.com, with an even more impressive 79% from fans.

  • gs

    It's, Jordan Belfort, not, Justin…. Double check your work, Todd. Unless of course you have Bieber fever, then it's not your fault and I completely understand. Get well soon.

    • http://www.thewrap.com TheWrap

      yes, thanks for pointing it out, corrected. sw.

  • Eddy G

    Wolf's per theater average is lower than American Hustle. Why not congratulate Hustle, since it's a hugely better film and has actually been out two weeks longer?

    • adriano

      Um no, American Hustle is absolute fluff and is a Scorsese ripoff. The wolf of wall street is a masterpiece and will only get better over time.

      • Vin Diesel's Hair

        adriano — quit being a fanboy tool. American Hustle is perfectly fine on its own merit (and was without question released before Wolf)

    • smallzy22

      Hustle was good but it was also hugely slow/boring compared to Wolf.

  • ???

    It should hit at least $200 mln domestically even to break,now it's a flop.

  • Gaspar Marino

    I disagree that this is one of Scorsese's better films. Too long and much too repetitive, although Leo is great, as usual.

    • Melonballer

      I am so sick of the endless brown nosing PR for this movie. So the latest twist is apparently, “OK, maybe the movie sucks, but Leo is still a god!” Thanks for keeping us all updated, flack.

    • Adriano

      Then take Ritalin next time. Helps with those who have no patience for brilliance

  • smallzy22

    The offended viewers sound lame (oblivious) as hell b/c they can't comprehend that this is a biographical movie told in an unconventional way. If you're truly offended by material/films made like this, you should stick to PG-13 to rated G movies only. The offended people have no business stepping into an R rated film. Eventually the offended views will go away and this film will go down as another Scorsese classic.

  • Casual Commenter

    Is anyone else curious why the Cinemascore rating is “C” while the Rotten Tomatoes fan rating is 79%?

  • Barney Dinosaur

    I just wonder how the public can prefer “American Hustle” over “Wolf”. Are we so fluffy in the mind?