February 8, 2014

Behind the Friday Box Office – 2/7/14


Note:  all weekend-to-weekend comparisons to Jan 31-Feb 2 will look better than usual because of last week’s Super Bowl Sunday, which sharply depressed box office for the day.

OPENINGS:  THE LEGO MOVIE (Warners) is likely to outgross its $60M production budget by Sunday after a $17.1M Friday, and while that won’t cover the usual hefty Warners marketing effort, the movie is sure to spin dollars (and pounds, and yen, and francs…) for weeks to come–and that’s not even to mention the obvious merchandising bonanza.  To give some perspective, Lego‘s start should be bigger than the openings for the original How To Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda and Despicable Me series.

Considering the largely murderous reviews (just 33% positive on Rotten Tomatoes), THE MONUMENTS MEN (Sony) should be reasonably happy with a $7M Friday and likely $20M weekend.  Word of mouth may be sluggish, though, and the film may still have a hard time earning back its $70M production cost (which becomes around $175-200M with worldwide marketing).  The hope will have to be that the European setting–along with the presence of George Clooney, of course–stirs some excitement overseas.

VAMPIRE ACADEMY (Weinstein) provides more evidence of the fact that while YA franchises are money machines when they work (Twilight, Hunger Games, etc), they’re brutal failures if they don’t.  After a putrid $1.4M Friday, the Harry-Potter-with-fangs concept may not reach $4M for the weekend, putting a dent in the profits Weinstein is taking in from its sleeper hit Philomena at the moment.

HOLDOVERS:  RIDE ALONG (Universal) continues to show stamina, down just 35% Friday-to-Friday to $2.6M and a likely $8M weekend.  The first step for Kevin Hart’s new-found stardom comes on Friday, when the remake of About Last Night rests on his shoulders.  THAT AWKWARD MOMENT (Focus/Universal) gives the new Focus Features regime a black eye with its first release, collapsing 57% to $1.7M compared to last Friday’s already dismal start.  It’s also a blow to Zac Efron’s attempt to establish himself as an adult star (Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan are still indie names, and while they would have liked a hit too, this can’t be blamed on them).

In its 11th weekend of wide release, and despite the arrival of Lego, FROZEN (Disney) fell just 37% from last Friday to $1.4M.  The only question now is whether it will top Despicable Me 2 in the US this weekend or next week (and how much its China opening will add to its $867.6M worldwide total, already the #3 animated non-sequel of all time behind The Lion King and Finding Nemo).  THE NUT JOB (Open Road), on the other hand, was decimated by Lego, down 59% from last Friday to $700K, although a $55M US total will still be a tidy result for the low-budget cartoon.  LONE SURVIVOR (Universal) is still holding well, down 40% from last Friday to $1.4M and a $4-5M weekend.

With the Winter Olympics pushing the Academy Awards way past the holiday movie season, the only Oscar hopeful (other than Frozen) remaining in the Top 10 is AMERICAN HUSTLE (Sony), with $750K on Friday and a likely $2M weekend that will take it to $137M.  It’s now the biggest hit of writer/director David O. Russell’s career.

LIMITED RELEASE:  There were no notable openings this weekend.  We’ll have results of any expansions tomorrow.

NEXT WEEKEND:  Three of the four releases for the 4-day holiday weekend are remakes of earlier movies. ROBOCOP (Sony/MGM) will try to get a jump on the competition with a Wednesday start.  After that, the studios are catering to the Valentine’s Day audience, with remakes of ABOUT LAST NIGHT (Screen Gems/Sony) and ENDLESS LOVE (Universal), and the sole original effort, WINTER’S TALE (Warners), based on Mark Helprin’s novel but relying on the uncertain star power of Colin Farrell.

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."