July 26, 2014

Behind the Friday Box Office – 7/25/14


OPENINGS:  Despite all the testosterone flowing through the Avengers-verse, the biggest star to emerge from the mega-franchise is turning out to be Scarlett Johansson, the latest warrior woman at the front of the box office.  This weekend she’s doing what Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth haven’t been able to pull off:  launch an unrelated action movie on her own.  LUCY (Universal) reportedly cost $40M to produce (to be sure, that number becomes more like $150-175M when worldwide marketing costs are included), and after a $17.1M Friday, it should earn back more than its production budget in one weekend, probably around $42M, with lots of promise overseas.  The movie’s ending doesn’t seem to provide much room for a sequel, but since writer-director Luc Besson is the man behind the Taken and The Professional franchises among others, it’s safe to assume that if Johansson is game to continue, Besson will find a way.

The $11.1M Friday and likely $28M weekend for HERCULES (Paramount/MGM) are far from shameful, especially compared to the awful $8.9M/$10.3M weekend openings for The Legend of Hercules and Pompeii.  But Hercules wasn’t cheap, with a $100M production budget (meaning $250M or so with worldwide marketing), and a star in Dwayne Johnson who probably gets first-dollar gross (as may director Brett Ratner).  The upshot is that even if Hercules more than doubles its eventual US box office overseas, it may still end up in the red.

Time stops for no one, and that includes Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton and director Rob Reiner.  Their joint effort AND SO IT GOES (Clarius) only managed $1.4M on Friday for a likely $4-5M weekend–creaky even with a mid-sized 1762 theatre count.  Its aged audience may keep it in theatres longer than a teen movie with that kind of opening would last, but it’s a cable project that’s making a short stop on big screens.

There are two quiet semi-wide openings this weekend.  A MOST WANTED MAN (Lionsgate/Roadside) has gotten some stellar reviews, but isn’t doing much at 361 theatres, with perhaps a $2M weekend ($6K per-theatre average) in sight.  The stand-up performance THE FLUFFY MOVIE (Open Road), at 432 theatres, is even lower, heading for a $1.5M weekend ($3500 average).

HOLDOVERS:  The arrival of two new action movies in the market didn’t help DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (20th), which fell 55% from last Friday to $4.7M and around $17M for the weekend.  (The 3rd Friday of Rise of the Planet of the Apes went down just 43% from the week before.)  Things will only get harder next weekend, and it’s not clear how far past $200M Dawn will get.

None of last weekend’s openings held well.  However, THE PURGE: ANARCHY (Universal), despite plunging 74% from last Friday to $3.4M, held better than the first Purge, incredibly frontloaded with an 83% drop.  Anarchy should have a $10M weekend, better than the $8.3M 2d weekend for Purge, and could edge past its predecessor’s $64.5M US total with $70-75M.  PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE (Disney) has no chance of catching up to the first Planes ($90.3M US total) after a slightly-worse 57% 2d Friday drop to $2.8M and a likely $10-11M weekend.  SEX TAPE (Columbia/Sony) remained DOA, down 67% from last Friday to $1.9M, and gasping toward a $6-7M weekend and $40M US total.

The only question remaining about the US run of TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (Paramount) is whether it will reach $250M before it’s done.  After a $1.3M Friday (down 53% from last Friday), it should have a $5M weekend, which would get it to $237M–making it the summer’s top movie, although far below other entries in the Transformers franchise.

LIMITED RELEASE:  Woody Allen’s MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT (Sony Pictures Classics) is likely to be on the modest end of his recent late-career successes, with a $22.5K weekend average at 17 big-city theatres.  BOYHOOD (IFC) tripled its run to 107 theatres and held very well, heading for a $15K average.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The summer has one potential blockbuster left, and it’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (Marvel/Disney), which is garnering some impressive early reviews (it’s currently at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes) for its offbeat approach to the superhero genre.  GET ON UP (Universal) will attempt to counterprogram, and also claims the late-summer slot that’s recently given us the African-American-themed hits The Help and The Butler.  Two film-festival titles begin limited release:  CALVARY (Fox Searchlight) and the rom-com WHAT IF (CBS).

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."