September 27, 2014

Behind the Friday Box Office – 9/26/14


OPENINGS:  THE EQUALIZER (Columbia/Sony) was just a tad below the opening day for Denzel Washington’s Safe House, $12.6M vs. $13.6M.  That suggests a $36-37M weekend, which would be the 3rd highest of his career, behind only Safe House and American Gangster.  More impressively, it continues a remarkable record in which every movie he’s made since 2000 except Out of Time and the prestige items Antwone Fisher and The Great Debators has opened to a $20M+ weekend.  None of these was a blockbuster per se (the two highest grossers were Safe House at $126.4M and Gangster at $130.2M), but the budgets also weren’t superhero-level high, and Washington’s name provides studios with something truly valuable:  a sure thing.

THE BOXTROLLS (Laika/Focus/Universal) started at $4.9M, which put it in 3rd place for Ftiday, but with a solid shot at #2 once weekend matinees kick in.  The Friday number is a slice higher than Laika’s Coraline ($4.5M) and Paranorman ($4.6M), and should put Boxtrolls in the same $14-17M weekend and $55-75M US totals neighborhood as those films.  It only has one free weekend, though, until Disney’s Alexander and the Terrible… opens on October 10, which may keep it on the low end of its total potential.

HOLDOVERS:  THE MAZE RUNNER (20th) fell a very acceptable 54% from its opening day last week to $5.2M, and should have a $16M weekend and $90M US total.  That puts it well below Divergent, which ended up at $151M in the US, but Maze also cost much less to produce.  THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU (Warners) held well, as older-skewing films tend to do, down just 43% to $2.2M for a likely $7M weekend.  But it started out so low that it’s still going to have a challenge getting past $40M, especially with adult-themed movies about to begin their season at the multiplex.  A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES (Universal) was taking a big risk when it was scheduled just 1 week before The Equalizer arrived for exactly the same target audience, and in fact the bottom fell out, crashing 73% to $1.3M on Friday for a $4M weekend and a total that may not get past $30M.  That makes it easily the biggest flop of Neeson’s post Taken career.

NO GOOD DEED (Screen Gems/Sony) fell 54% from last Friday to $1.4M and a $4M weekend, on its way to a $55M total.  A DOLPHIN TALE 2 (Alcon/Warners) held nicely despite the arrival of Boxtrolls, down 41% to $1.3M, with a $5M weekend and a $45M US total ahead, 40% below the first Dolphin Tale.

What movie had the best hold in the Top 10?  GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (Marvel/Disney), of course, down just 26% to $1M on Friday, and ready to put another $4M weekend into its enormous bank.

THE DROP (Fox Searchlight) continued its collapse, down 49% to just over $300K at 1131 theatres.  It may not even average $1000 per theatre for the weekend.

LIMITED RELEASE:  PRIDE (CBS) is having an OK start, on its way to a $15K average for the weekend in 6 NY/LA theatres.  THE SKELETON TWINS (Roadside) expanded quite nicely to a near-wide 385 theatres, with what should be a $3500 weekend average.  HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS (Relativity) isn’t finding much after an expansion to 94 theatres that may not reach a $2K weekend average.  LOVE IS STRANGE (Sony Classics) widened to 138 theatres for a likely $1500 average.  Two very worthy Weinstein Company movies are struggling, with THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY on its way to a sub-$1000 average at 139, and TRACKS hoping for a $2500 average at 28.

NEXT WEEKEND:  GONE GIRL (20th), off a very successful NY Film Festival launch and strong reviews (85% on Rotten Tomatoes), comes to theatres for what its makers hope will be the magic combination of big box office and an Oscar run.  The rest of the arrivals are nowhere near its league:  Conjuring spinoff ANNABELLE (Warners), heartwarming true story THE GOOD LIE (Warners), and Nicolas Cage in the Rapture fantasy LEFT BEHIND (Freestyle).  Limited release MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN (Paramount) will have to hope to get past an underwhelming Toronto Film Festival debut.


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."