May 10, 2014

Behind the Friday Box Office – 5/9/14


OPENINGS:  NEIGHBORS (Universal) is a big win for all concerned, with a huge $19.6M Friday that could put it in reach of $50M for the weekend, especially if the fact that this is a rare mainstream Hollywood non-rom-com comedy with a strong woman character gives it a boost on Mothers Day.  There’s no reason to think word-of-mouth won’t be strong (despite the dubious Cinemascore B grade), and Neighbors has the comedy market to itself until the family-oriented Sandler/Barrymore Blended in 2 weeks, and then the more directly competitive A Million Ways To Die In the West (also from Universal) the week after that.  Even more encouraging, early numbers from overseas are showing substantial international appeal in the 29 markets where it’s opened.  That could be the difference between a solid hit and a franchise.  (Don’t doubt the possibility for a moment.)

The other wide openings barely registered.  Both LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY’S RETURN (Clarius) and MOMS’ NIGHT OUT (TriStar/Sony) will hope for some sticking power on Mothers Day, as they appeal to their target family and religious audiences.  At the moment, though, they seem to be facing $4M weekends after respective Fridays of $1.3M and $980K

HOLDOVERS:  THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 (Sony) fell 71% from its opening day to $10.1M (on its way to a $35-37M weekend), and after 8 days in theatres it has $120.8M.  On both of those metrics, it’s ranking comparably to or worse than all of the other recent superhero epics, including Captain America 2, Iron Man 3, The Avengers, Man of Steel and Thor 2.  It seems to be heading for $225M in the US, which would be down 15% from the first Amazing, and while it may compensate overseas, it’ll be struggling just to hold even, not surging ahead as Sony had hoped and planned.  Even worse–well, even worse requires a Spoiler Alert for those who haven’t seen Amazing 2 and don’t want to know the ending.  It’s the fact that alone among the superhero franchises, Spider-Man leans heavily on its romantic angle for its appeal, but Amazing 3 won’t have Emma Stone and her off-the-charts (and, as everyone knows, off-the-screen) chemistry with Andrew Garfield, because Gwen Stacy didn’t survive Amazing 2.  Shailene Woodley is in the wings to take over as Mary Jane in future sequels, but it’s not clear how that’s going to play, making for a mega-franchise that’s not just firmly at the B level, but quite precarious even there.

THE OTHER WOMAN (20th) wasn’t damaged by the arrival of Neighbors, dropping a reasonable 41% from last Friday to $2.8M.  With some strength on Mothers Day, it could approach $10M for the weekend, and should end up over $80M in the US.

Other longrunning hits are continuing to hold very well, with a 32% Friday-to-Friday drop for HEAVEN IS FOR REAL (TriStar/Sony) to $1.7M, a 29% drop for CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (Disney/Marvel) to $1.5M, and a 35% drop for RIO 2 (20th/Blue Sky) to $1.1M.  All should have $5.5-6M weekends.

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (Fox Searchlight) officially became Wes Anderson’s biggest US hit yesterday (it was already his biggest overseas), topping The Royal Tenenbaums with $52.7M.  And with just a tiny 17% drop from last Friday and a likely $1.5M+ weekend, it’s not even close to done, as arthouse audiences clamor for something out of the franchise norm.

LIMITED RELEASE:  CHEF (Open Road) is off to a good start, with a weekend average that could top $30K at 6 theatres, but it’s not clear how much of that is attributable to celebrity Q&As in NY/LA.  PALO ALTO (Tribeca/IFC), at 4 NY/LA theatres, is also starting off well with what should be a $20K per-theatre average.  GOD’S POCKET (IFC) and THE DOUBLE (Magnolia) are both also available on VOD, and their per-theatre average at 3 and 2 theatres will be more like $8K.  FADING GIGOLO (Millenium) almost tripled its theatre count to 340, and may have a $2K average.  BELLE (Fox Searchlight) widened to 45, with an OK $10K average.

NEXT WEEKEND:  One word:  GODZILLA (Warners/Legendary).  Its opening will certainly be–sorry–monstrous, the question is just how big.  MILLION DOLLAR ARM (Disney), which is previewing around the country tonight, will try to counterprogram away a bit of the beast’s business.  In limited release, THE IMMIGRANT (Weinstein) finally reaches the US after premiering at last year’s Cannes Film Festival.

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."