March 1, 2014

Behind the Friday Box Office – 2/28/14


OPENINGS:  NON-STOP (Universal) had the Friday lead with $10M, but that doesn’t mean it’ll take the weekend.  In any case, Universal’s investment will pay off handsomely–it covered only $12M of the budget for US rights (plus marketing costs in its territory, of course), and a likely weekend in the high $20Ms should mean US theatrical of $75M+, cementing the unlikely ascension of the Schindler’s List star into one of the most reliable action brand names out there.

Despite opening a month before the more obvious Easter season (which was already taken by Noah), SON OF GOD (20th) will have every chance to move up from its $9.4M Friday to win the weekend, thanks to its possible exemption from typically soft Oscar Sunday business with its… let’s call it a “highly committed” niche audience that may be far more likely to spend its Sunday watching this film than the Oscars.  In any case, though, this is a big moneymaker.  Reports claim a $20M production budget, but this may be the rare case when the reported number is higher than the real one, since the film is largely a re-edit of the hit The Bible miniseries (plus some sequences shot at the same time but not aired on TV), and in addition, 20th has managed a very focused marketing campaign that largely avoided expensive primetime network TV ads.  Whether it sets the stage for another faith-based hit later this month for the potentially more polarizing Noah, however, is unclear.

Thinking of re-edits, there was little interest in the R-rated cut of ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES (Paramount), in its one-week prevideo run. which may not even muster a $1000 average for the weekend in its 1317 theatres.

HOLDOVERS:  THE LEGO MOVIE (Warners) took a 39% Friday-to-Friday hit to $4.4M, but should still be over $205M in the US by Sunday.  Next weekend, though, it faces its first real animated competition from Mr. Peabody and ShermanTHE MONUMENTS MEN (Sony/20th) and RIDE ALONG (Universal) had the best non-Oscar holds of the day, down 36% and 35% to $1.4M and $780K. Monuments is on its way to $75M in the US, and Ride Along will pass $130M (although it likely has less of a future overseas).

More recent openings were shakier, with the best hold a 54% drop for ABOUT LAST NIGHT (Screen Gems/Sony) to $1M and a likely $3M weekend.  Last Night now looks like it’ll struggle to reach even $50M in the US, and since 25% of that will have been from its opening Valentine’s Day, it suggests less of a breakout for Kevin Hart than it first appeared to be.  3 DAYS TO KILL (Relativity) dropped 64% to $1.5M, POMPEII (TriStar/Sony/FilmDistrict) also by 64% to $1.2M, ROBOCOP (Sony) by 56% to $1.1M, and ENDLESS LOVE (Universal) by 60% to $580K.  Of these, Pompeii and Robocop are in the most trouble because of their $100M+ production budgets, although Robocop may manage to recoup overseas.

Oscar contenders are naturally strong as people play last-minute catch-up.  FROZEN (Disney) leads the pack with a 30% drop to $720K, while AMERICAN HUSTLE (Sony) and PHILOMENA (Weinstein), among others, are actually up, although all at $500K or below Fridays.

LIMITED RELEASE:  STALINGRAD (Sony) was released in 308 3D Imax theatres only, and even with those very high ticket prices, its weekend per-theatre average may not top $1500.  THE LUNCHBOX (Sony Classics) is off to a mild start with what should be a $10-12K average at 3.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The alpha and omega of 3D openings, as MR. PEABODY and SHERMAN (DreamWorks Animation/20th) aims for the kids, while 300:  RISE OF AN EMPIRE (Warners) is meant for R-rated action geeks.  Meanwhile, the year has its first major limited opening with the arrival of Wes Anderson’s THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (Fox Searchlight), which received hosannas in its Berlin Film Festival unveiling.


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."