October 11, 2014

Behind the Friday Box Office – 10/10/14


Once again, Gone Girl was vanquished for a day by a horror movie, but will almost certainly rebound to take the weekend.

OPENINGS:  DRACULA UNTOLD (Legendary/Universal) gets the partnership between Universal and its new co-producer/financier Legendary (which for years was parked at Warners) off to a solid start.  Dracula‘s Friday results were underreported in preliminary reports, and its $8.9M total indicates strong interest from late night and west coast audiences.  It’s still far below Annabelle‘s $15.5M Friday last week (and with a reported $70M production cost, has roughly 10x the budget), but a $23-25M weekend would be fine, providing some cushion on the US side for a film expected to be much stronger overseas.

ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY (Disney) didn’t live up to its title, starting instead with a fair $5.2M that should get it into the $17-19M range for the weekend.  It’s a moderately budgeted piece of programming that could hit $50-60M before it’s done and live endlessly on home platforms.

THE JUDGE (Warners) isn’t a hugely expensive effort, but it still represents a significant disappointment both for Warners–which seems to have underestimated the appeal of the directly competing Gone Girl–and for star/producer Robert Downey, Jr, whose first “serious” movie this is after years of franchise product (and the comedy Due Date).  A $4.4M opening day and likely $13M weekend won’t get the film anywhere near breakeven, especially since it’s unlikely to sell many tickets overseas.  It demonstrates once again how few male stars exist these days outside of the comic-book and action genres, where it’s the franchise and not the actor who sells the tickets.

ADDICTED (Lionsgate) opened in just 846 theatres and has very effectively aimed straight at African-American audiences, with a $3M Friday that should put it at $8M for the weekend.  It could collapse after opening day (unlike many films with that target audience, the sex drama won’t benefit from a church audience on Sunday), but seems on track for a good return on its low investment.

HOLDOVERS:  GONE GIRL (20th) was considered a polarizing piece, with its shifting genres and cool emotional tone (it didn’t fare particularly well in exit polling), but it’s shaping up as one of director David FIncher’s biggest hits, with an exceptional Friday-to-Friday drop of just 38% (to $8.1M) that reflects continuing audience fascination.  Gone Girl should have a $26-27M 2d weekend, with $78M by Sunday and the potential to go above $125M in the US.  Along with the financial success, becoming the zeitgeist movie of the moment will help it in the now-underway Oscar race, not just for the film but for Fincher and Best Actress possibility Rosamund Pike.

ANNABELLE (New Line/Warners) had a typical (for the horror genre) 66% plunge on its 2d Friday to $5.2M.  That will moderate a bit to a 60% weekend drop to $15M, but by then its total will be over $60M, with a final total of $80-90M likely, and with its tiny production cost (albeit a major marketing campaign), it will help Warners make up its losses on the (theoretically) more prestigious This Is Where I Leave You and The Judge.

THE EQUALIZER (Columbia/Sony), THE MAZE RUNNER (20th) and THE BOXTROLLS (Laika/Focus/Universal) all held their own on their third (Equalizer/Boxtrolls) and 4th (Maze Runner) Fridays. Equalizer, down 50% to $2.8M, and Maze Runner, down 40% to $2.1M, both still have a chance of hitting $100M in the US, while Boxtrolls, down 40% to $1.6M, should reach $50M, around the same as Laika’s Paranorman.  The economics for these stop-motion animations are clearly working, because Focus and Laika recently signed a deal for 3 more feature films.

LIMITED RELEASE:  Proving once again the effectiveness of well-targeted niche programming, the documentary MEET THE MORMONS (Purdie), at 317 theatres, could go over $3M for the weekend, giving it an $10K per-theatre average.  With such a narrow base, it’s not clear that Mormons can have much in the way of box office legs, but it’s likely that costs were kept very low, and that should mean financial success.  The more mainstream indies of the weekend opened OK but not exceptionally.  The Bill Murray vehicle ST. VINCENT (Weinstein), at 4 NY/LA theatres, may have a $27K weekend average, and WHIPLASH (Sony Classics), despite dazzling reviews, may average little more than $20K at 6 theatres on the coasts.  THE GOOD LIE (Warners) and THE SKELETON TWINS (Roadside), in large limited releases of 461 and 268 theatres, are in line for $1000-1500 per theatre averages.  MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN (Paramount) expanded to 28 theatres with a $1500 average for the weekend, and PRIDE (CBS) expanded to 97 with a $2000 average.

NEXT WEEKEND:  Brad Pitt rolls into town with the WWII tank epic FURY (Columbia/Sony), while THE BEST OF ME (Relativity) chases the date-night crowd and THE BOOK OF LIFE (20th) will be after the family (and Hispanic) audience.  Limited releases will be led by the festival-acclaimed BIRDMAN (Fox Searchlight).

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."