December 6, 2014

Behind the Friday Box Office – 12/5/14


OPENINGS:  None, really, although you could stretch and include THE PYRAMID (20th), an ultra-low budget, barely-marketed “found-footage” horror item that opened at just 589 theatres.  It made $458K on Friday, and probably won’t get much past $1M for the weekend, not enough to pay even for its very limited costs.

HOLDOVERS:  Instead, for the 3rd consecutive weekend, THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART I (Lionsgate) is in charge.  Like every other holdover, it was steeply down from last week’s holiday Friday (everything in the Top 10 fell 56-77%, except the one that doubled its theatres).  In Mockingjay‘s case, that was a 73% drop, compared to 75% for Catching Fire on the parallel date last year.  Mockingjay continues to tread in Catching Fire‘s footsteps, except at a significantly lower level, and is still on target to duel with Guardians of the Galaxy at the $330M total level for 2014’s #1 title of the year (in the US) honors.

This was the weekend when, with no new competition, PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR (DreamWorks Animation/20th) could have showed some strong word of mouth and suggested it had the stamina to be a serious earner through the holidays–but it didn’t happen.  Penguins fell an awful 77% from last Friday (last year, Frozen dropped just 53%) to $2.4M, and although weekend matinees will give it a bounce, it’s headed for an $11M weekend that will put it at less than $50M.  With a horde of family movies arriving later this month, there’s a real chance Penguins won’t reach $100M in the US, and although it will probably do better overseas, that may not be enough to put it into profit.  It’s a genuinely discouraging turn of events for DreamWorks Animation.

HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 (New Line/Warners) actually had the day’s best performance on a percentage basis, down 56% on Friday to $2.7M.  That’s still only going to get it to an $11M weekend and $30M by Sunday, but it faces little direct competition until The Interview on Christmas Day, and while it won’t get anywhere near the $117.5M total of the original Horrible Bosses, it may eke its way out of red ink.

BIG HERO 6 (Disney), INTERSTELLAR (Paramount/Warners) and GONE GIRL (20th) keep selling tickets, although the first 2 were respectively down 77% and 68% from last Friday (the amazing Gone Girl fell just 57% as it entered its 10th weekend).  Their Fridays were at $2.1M/$1.8M/$400K, and by Sunday they should be at $177M/$158M/$163M.  THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (Focus/Universal) took a 60% hit from last Friday and should have a tidy $3.5M weekend, still at only 826 theatres.  The only point of mild concern for Theory is that it hasn’t made much of an impact in early critics’ awards, and it will need to win some prizes if it’s to keep its momentum going.

NIGHTCRAWLER (Open Road), hoping to take advantage of the barren landscape and generate some awards fever for Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance, doubled its run to 1257 theatres and still fell 7% from last Friday to $300K.  It may have a $1M weekend and a slim per-theatre average under $1000.  BIRDMAN (Fox Searchlight) added a handful of theatres to 738, and fell 58% from last Friday to $300K, also on its way to a $1M weekend but with a $1500 average.

LIMITED RELEASE:  The weekend’s one notable arrival was WILD (Fox Searchlight), which opened at 5 NY/LA theatres on Wednesday and widened to 21 yesterday.  It’s headed for an OK $25K average.  We don’t have numbers for the 1-week Oscar qualifying runs of STILL ALICE (Sony Classics), THE HUMBLING (Millenium) or BLACK OR WHITE (Relativity).  THE HOMESMAN (Roadside) tripled its footprint to 154 theatres, and is headed for a fair $3500 average.  FOXCATCHER (Sony Classics) added just 3 theatres for 75, and should have a $6500 weekend average.  THE IMITATION GAME (Weinstein) doubled to 8, on its way to a strong $40K average.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The roll-out of major holiday titles starts with EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS (20th), which will only own the spectacle market for 5 days until the latest Hobbit arrives.  Chris Rock’s acclaimed TOP FIVE (Paramount) is starting with a semi-wide 975 theatre run.  The major limited release is Paul Thomas Anderson’s INHERENT VICE (Warners), the first movie ever adapted from a Thomas Pynchon book.

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."