April 5, 2014

Behind the Friday Box Office – 4/4/14


OPENINGS:  The $37M Friday for CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (Disney) was the highest ever in the month of April, ahead of Fast Five‘s $34.4M.  Fast Five fell 13% on Saturday to hit a $86.2M weekend, and Winter Soldier will hope to beat that.  Depending on word of mouth, it could get as high as $95M or even $100M by Sunday.  It’s also well ahead of Thor: The Dark World’s $31.9M opening day last November, which reached a $85.7M weekend.  Captain America is still a second-tier Marvel blockbuster, behind the opening days of Iron Man 3 ($68.9M) and of course The Avengers ($80.8M), but like Thor, it got a post-Avengers jolt for its component franchise, up almost 50% from the opening day of Captain America: The First Avenger and its $25.7M.  Also like the Thor subfranchise, Captain America 2 is soaring overseas, with $132.2M through Friday that will probably be $170M by Sunday, almost equal to the entire overseas gross ($193.9M) for First Avenger.  Winter Soldier seems to be on track for $600M+ worldwide, in the same neighborhood as Thor 2‘s $644.7M.  (The first Thor was 40% ahead of the first Captain America overseas, so even if both sequels go up similarly outside the US, Thor may still be ahead worldwide.)  So, you know… “second-tier.”

HOLDOVERS:  NOAH (Paramount/Regency) ran into the Captain America buzzsaw, and fell 68% Friday-to-Friday to $4.9M, on its way to a $17M weekend.  That should still get it to $100M or so in the US by the time it’s through, but with $275M or so in costs (including worldwide marketing), Noah will need sustained international success to hit profit.

DIVERGENT (Summit/Lionsgate) fell 49% from last Friday to $4.2M, with a $15M weekend ahead and a US total of $140M or so.  Its overseas release hasn’t yet kicked in for most of the world, and that will determine the health of the franchise.

GOD’S NOT DEAD (Freestyle) continued its strategy of expanding one step ahead of its theatre-by-theatre decline, increasing by 50% to 1758 theatres and dropping just 6% from last Friday to $2.2M.  It should end up with a $7-8M weekend and ultimately $40M+ in the US, an extremely impressive result–not that far from the $60M for Son of God, which had the might of 20th Century Fox behind it.

Two more conventional indies also expanded.  THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (Fox Searchlight) is now feeling the pinch of the limited audience for Wes Anderson’s quirky filmmaking style, widened by about 30% to 1263 theatres but down 24% from last Friday to $1.8M and a likely $6M weekend.  It’s already Anderson’s most popular movie overseas ($45.1M through last weekend), and should beat his Moonrise Kingdom ($45.5M) in the US, but perhaps not The Royal Tenenbaums ($52.4M).  BAD WORDS (Focus/Universal) is faring worse, expanded by 20% to 1074 theatres but down 35% for the day to $500K and a weekend under $2M.  It’ll labor to reach even $15M in the US.

Last week’s other openings both collapsed.  SABOTAGE (Open Road) was down 69% to less than $600K for the day and a sub-$2M weekend, but CESAR CHAVEZ (Lionsgate) was even worse, down 73% to under $300K for the day and a weekend that might not reach $1M.

MUPPETS MOST WANTED (Disney) and MR. PEABODY AND SHERMAN (Dreamworks Animation/20th) were nearly in lockstep, down 42% to $1.5M and 41% to $1.3M–but Peabody will go over $100M by the end of the weekend, while Muppets will be well under $50M.  Even though Peabody will have much more revenue, though, its high costs and weakness overseas are still pushing it toward red ink.

LIMITED RELEASE:  UNDER THE SKIN (A24), cannily taking advantage of Scarlett Johansson’s visibility this week in Captain America 2, is opening extremely well, with what could be as much as a $50K weekend average at 4 NY/LA theatres.  No such luck for DOM HEMINGWAY (Fox Searchlight), also at 4 but starting soft with a weekend average that may not reach $10K.

NEXT WEEKEND:  RIO 2 (20th) will counterprogram the 2d weekend of Winter Soldier from one end of the demo, while DRAFT DAY (Summit/Lionsgate) will make its move from the other.  And it’s never the off-season for low-budget horror, so OCULUS (Relativity) will seek a foothold.  Limited releases include Jim Jarmusch’s film festival favorite ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (Sony Classics), and the Nicolas Cage vehicle JOE (Roadside).  

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."