November 22, 2015

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 11/22/15


OPENINGS:  The stated $101M weekend start for THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2 (Lionsgate) means that we won’t really know whether it went over $100M until final numbers are released tomorrow.  But even if that number holds, it will be down 17% from last year’s Mockingjay 1.  More seriously, the international opening was $146M, below Mockingjay 1‘s $154.3M–even though that launch didn’t include China.  (The territory underperformed at $16.4M.)  None of this will stand in the way of Lionsgate and everyone else continuing to reap plenty of profit from The Hunger Games, which is likely to total $650M+ worldwide even in its diminished state, on total costs of about $350M (the online argument that the studio shouldn’t have broken up Mockingjay into 2 successful films is silly, at least from a business point of view), and it will be no surprise when Lionsgate announces a full slate of prequels and spin-offs, as studios do in these post-Marvel days with their core franchises.  But the value of Hunger Games without Jennifer Lawrence, who’s unlikely to appear again in the franchise unless several trucks of money are backed up to her home, is unclear.

As with Mockingjay 2, the announced weekend total of $10.1M for THE NIGHT BEFORE (Columbia/Sony) means that we won’t know until tomorrow if the comedy actually topped $10M.  But in any case, this is a depressing opening for a Seth Rogen comedy vehicle, his worst (not counting The Interview) since 2008’s Zack and Miri Make a Porno–or, since that was $10.07M, possibly in his entire starring career.  The studio will hope that it can hold on in theatres until Will Ferrell’s Daddy’s Home arrives to take the comedy audience on Christmas Day, but there’s little foundation here for an extended run.

We’ve noted here before that when the media spin on a movie’s opening is that its studio didn’t really lose all that much money, it never means anything good, and that applies to SECRET IN THEIR EYES (IM Global/STX), for which we’re assured STX, as the US distributor, paid little, and IM recouped its own investment with foreign pre-sales.  Let’s put it this way:  someone is losing money on this $6.6M opening, even with a moderate production cost and relatively slim marketing.  The star value of the production was overstated:  Chiwetel Ejiofor’s name doesn’t sell tickets, Nicole Kidman’s never really did, and Julia Roberts’ fans don’t come out for grim thrillers about the hunt for a torture/murderer.

SPOTLIGHT (Open Road) kept its head above water with semi-wide expansion to 598 theatres, giving it a weekend per-theatre average of $6K.  That’s far from a mainstream hit, but it’s squarely in Birdman‘s territory, which is good enough.  The important thing for Spotlight is that it’s survived November, and awards will start being handed out on December 1; its chance of growth will depend on how it fares in that process.

HOLDOVERS:  SPECTRE (MGM/Columbia/Sony) is both a big hit and a major disappointment.  It plunged 57% in its 3d US weekend to $14.6M, putting its total at $153.7M–a 30% drop from where Skyfall was at this point in its run.  Overseas is stronger, with $524.1M after a $65.7M weekend, but even there it’s on track to be 20% below Skyfall‘s $804.2M international total.  A $800-850M worldwide gross certainly won’t dent the Bond franchise in any meaningful way, but it means the next in the series may try harder to keep its production/marketing budget below Spectre‘s $450M.

THE PEANUTS MOVIE (Blue Sky/20th) is doing moderate business, down 47% in its 3d weekend to $12.8M for a $98.9M US total.  The Thanksgiving holiday will provide enough family audiences for Peanuts to sell tickets even with The Good Dinosaur on the horizon, but things will probably fade thereafter, and international results (under $10M for now, as the strategy is for a later overseas release) will determine whether further chapters in the series are financially worthwhile.

Last week’s openings are headed to homevideo sooner rather than later.  LOVE THE COOPERS (CBS/Lionsgate) was hoping for strong word of mouth and its older audience to keep it afloat, but a 53% drop to $3.9M ($14.9M total) suggested little chance of that, although it too will benefit from the family audience available over Thanksgiving.  THE 33 (Alcon/Warners) fared even worse, down 61% to $2.2M and with $9.9M earned so far, a number that won’t get much bigger.

THE MARTIAN (TSG/20th) can’t be killed with a stick, and although it’s nearing the end of its run, it was down a moderate 45% in its 8th weekend to $3.7M.  It has $213M in the US, plus $273.4M overseas.

SUFFRAGETTE (Focus/Universal) slumped badly in its 2d week of semi-wide release, down 51% at 517 theatres, with a weekend average that didn’t even hit $1000.

LIMITED RELEASE:  CAROL (Weinstein) was this weekend’s deluxe new offering, and it delivered with a $62K weekend average at 4 NY/LA arthouses, which just coincidentally happens to be slightly above the $59K average for Spotlight‘s opening.  As with Spotlight and Steve Jobs, however, a huge opening on the coasts doesn’t necessarily translate into wide success, and Carol will be heavily reliant on awards, particularly for its brilliant lead performances (even though Rooney Mara’s is being called “supporting” for strategic purposes).  LEGEND (Cross Creek/Universal) boasts a much more flamboyant lead performance from Tom Hardy, but didn’t achieve anywhere near Carol‘s level of critical bliss, and had a slower start with a $21K average at 4.  BROOKLYN (Fox Searchlight) expanded to 111 theatres with a solid $10K average.  TRUMBO (Bleecker Street) widened to 47 with an OK $5300 average.  BY THE SEA (Universal) unwisely spread to 126 theatres with a $1500 average.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The holiday is greeted by a trio of new arrivals:  the extremely well-reviewed CREED (MGM/Warners), the animated THE GOOD DINOSAUR (Pixar/Disney) and, well, VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN (20th).  On Friday, the awards hunt is joined by THE DANISH WOMAN (Focus/Universal).


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."