Wolf of Wall Street: F-Word, Controversy, DiCaprio–Good Box-Office

the_wolf_of_wall_street_posterScorsese’s latest biopic, “Wolf of Wall Street,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, has generated controversy: Some critics raised the issue to what extent the movie glorifies (or at least condones)  excessive drug use, partying, and profanity.  The f-word is mentioned more than 500 times, making it a record for the most usages of that word in a single movie.

However, this past weekend, “Wolf of Wall Street” grossed an estimated $13.4 million, dropping only 27% in its second week, making it a strong holds–the movie has legs, to use Hollywood jargon.

In the two weeks since it opened, the film has grossed more than $63 million domestically, a strong result that falls in between such recent past successes as “The Fighter” and “True Grit.”  “Wolf” may ultimately top out at around $125 million.

Variety reports:

Much like “True Grit,” from the Coen brothers, as well as “Django Unchained” by Tarantino, Scorsese adds a level of prestige to any movie he makes, which in the case of “Wolf” elevates it a higher plateau–a classier version of raunchy.

But what makes the gross for “Wolf” even more impressive is the film’s three-hour run time, which limits the number of screenings it has per day, as well as the restrictive ‘R’ rating.

Give credit to the star power of DiCaprio, who has starred in the last five Scorsese’s pictures, turning each one of them into a box-office success.

Paramount vice chair Rob Moore said “Wolf” so far has capitalized on the water-cooler effect, adding that the film’s intent is to create dialogue debating the film’s controversial subject matter.

“There is certainly a lot of debate about the movie and the CinemaScore,” Moore said, referring to the film’s divisive ‘C’ rating, “but when you have a movie about excess, that can be very polarizing.”

Not to forget: Scorsese’s films have featured adult content, especially mob-themed films such as “Goodfellas” and “Casino.” Any one of the director’s past films likely has not been this controversial since “The Last Temptation of Christ” in 1988, when its interpretation was judged harshly.  That film earned Scorsese best director Oscar nomination, though it earned only $8 million at the domestic box office.

The studio plans to expand “Wolf” to north of 3,000 domestic locations on Friday–it is currently is playing at 2,557.  “This movie sparks conversation,” Moore said. “You can see by how the movie is holding that people clearly are talking about it.”