August 23, 2014

Behind the Friday Box Office – 8/22/14


OPENINGS:  The question for IF I FALL (Warners/MGM), as with any movie that has a high proportion of young female appeal, is just how frontloaded it will turn out to be.  Friday’s $6.8M included $1.1M from Thursday night, about 16% of the total.  The Fault In Our Stars was much more frontloaded, earning more than 30% of its “Friday” from Thursday night.  That suggests the potential for a more even weekend (Fault made almost 55% of its opening weekend $48M on Thursday/Friday).  Still, If I Fall is unlikely to get beyond $16-17M for the weekend, and may fall off quickly after that.  The production cost was low, and by Warners standards the marketing was reasonably scaled, leaving some possibility of profit if the movie has any foreign appeal.

WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL (Affirm/TriStar/Sony) is aimed at the “inspirational” audience (and some football fans), and while its $3M start was nowhere near the $7.9M first Friday for Heaven Is For Real (which wasn’t even its opening day), it was right on target with the $2.8M start for indie sleeper God’s Not Dead, which ended up with a $9.2M weekend and a $60.8M US total.  (However, that was at 1/3 the number of theatres of Game, with much more potential for expansion.)  Their weekends should be similar, but the clock will probably run down on Game much faster than it did on Dead.

SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR (Dimension/Weinstein) is simply one of the year’s biggest flops, a calamity that probably can’t reach profit even if overseas audiences embrace it.  (Although pre-sales to international distributors may leave them as the ones holding the bag.)  With a $2.6M Friday and likely $6-7M weekend, Weinstein Company would have been better off releasing it straight to VOD and saving on marketing costs.  Director Robert Rodriguez works a lot (and has sizable other interests, including the El Rey cable network), but he hasn’t had a hit movie since the original Sin City in 2005, and his D-movie aesthetic puts him at an increasing box office distance from his pal and collaborator Quentin Tarantino (whose attachment of a Hateful Eight teaser to Dame didn’t help).

HOLDOVERS:  After 2 weeks in 2d place, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (Marvel/Disney) is poised to jump back into the top slot, with a superb $4.8M Friday that was down only 30% from last Friday.  The milestones are starting to fall for Guardians–it will pass Transformers: Age of Extinction and its $243.4M this weekend as the #1 movie of the US summer, and in a week or two will also become #1 of 2014 in the US (passing Captain America: The Winter Soldier‘s $259.8M).  Does it have the stamina to reach $300M?  It will likely depend on how long it can hold onto its theatres into September.  Overseas is lagging behind at $196.4M, but China and some other major territories haven’t opened yet.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (Nickelodeon/Paramount) and LET’S BE COPS (20th) both fell 43% from last Friday, to $4.5M and $3.2M respectively.  Turtles should fight it out with If I Stay for the weekend’s #2 slot at $16M, and a $165-175M US total in its sights, with Cops at $10-11M, on its way to a tidy $65M US total.

Last weekend’s other openings didn’t benefit from word-of-mouth.  THE GIVER (Weinstein) slumped 57% from last Friday to $2.1M, and THE EXPENDABLES 3 (Lionsgate) collapsed by 69% to $1.9M.  Both may manage $6-7M for the weekend and US totals of $40M, making Giver a loser and the much more expensive Expendables a disaster.

THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY (DreamWorks/Disney) is unfolding as its studio had hoped (although not quite at the anticipated level), playing out its older audience with a mere 23% Friday-to-Friday drop to $1.6M, which should get it to a $5-6M weekend and the hope of crossing $50M in the US.

LIMITED RELEASE:  LOVE IS STRANGE (Sony Classics) is headed for an OK $25K per-theatre weekend at 5 NY/LA arthouses.

NEXT WEEKEND:  No studio wants to touch Labor Day Weekend with any movie it cares about, so the pickings are sparse:  the Pierce Brosnan thriller THE NOVEMBER MAN (Relativity) on Wednesday, and AS ABOVE/SO BELOW (Universal), yet another found-footage, cheap horror movie (don’t go into the Paris catacombs!) on Friday.


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."