January 15, 2017

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 1/15/17


OPENINGS:  It wasn’t so much that THE BYE BYE MAN (STX) overperformed at $13.4M for the 3-day weekend (that number should rise to $15M on Monday thanks to the Martin Luther King Day holiday), but that everything around it flopped, clearing the way for it to be the #1 new title at the box office.  It’s still unlikely to get much past $30M in the US, perhaps yielding a small profit since it had a limited marketing campaign.  Overseas, it’s at $1.3M in 11 markets.

PATRIOTS DAY (CBS/Lionsgate) had a sad $12M/$14M in its first weekend of wide release.  It’s unlikely even to match the $61.4M that Deepwater Horizon, the last Mark Wahlberg/Peter Berg collaboration, earned in the US, and will be an even tougher sell overseas.  Although it was positioned as a possible Oscar contender, a nomination would be a major surprise at this point, as audiences are opting for the feel-good history of Hidden Figures in these dark times over a story of terrorism.

MONSTER TRUCKS (Paramount) was fully expected to flop, by Paramount among others, and it has, with a terrible $10.5M/$14M weekend on production costs alone that hit $125M.  The studio had literally already written this one off in last year’s financial filings, and with good reason.

SLEEPLESS (Open Road) might as well have starred Nicolas Cage as Jamie Foxx with its $8.5M/$10M weekend, and although it wasn’t a particularly expensive piece of work, it will need some success overseas to even think about breaking even.

After that, things got really ugly.  The first wide weekend of LIVE BY NIGHT (RatPac/Warners), a production with something like $150M in production/marketing costs, managed just $5.4M/$6.5M for the weekend, and will drown in red ink, especially considering that its international box office is no better, with $3.3M for the weekend in 25 territories.  The interesting point here is that Ben Affleck’s next directing vehicle had been announced as his own The Batman starring project, but he’s recently been stepping back from that news, perhaps because he knows that his next stint behind the camera had better be with something that can recover some of the critical favor he’d earned with his earlier films.

Things were no better for Martin Scorsese, whose passion project SILENCE (Paramount) foundered after expansion to a quasi-wide 747 theatres with a $1.9M/$2.5M weekend.  Those true believers who invested in the $40M+ production cost, and Paramount, which is paying for the marketing, can at least console themselves that their losses were in the service of seriously intended filmmaking.

HOLDOVERS:  Even though HIDDEN FIGURES (20th) was the weekend’s box office winner at $20.5M/$25M, its mathematician heroines would note that the numbers aren’t quite as good as they look.  Figures boosted its theatre count by 33% over last week, but still dropped 10%.  Nevertheless, the film is headed for $100M in the US, and Oscar nominations could provide more upside.

LA LA LAND (Summit/Lionsgate), by comparison, is sailing on a rising tide.  It increased its theatre count by about 20% from last week, and bumped up an impressive 43% to $14.5M/$17M, which will have it over $76M by Monday, and the only question is how high Oscar season can carry it.  It’s also finding success overseas, where it earned $17.8M this weekend for a $54.8M total, with China and several major European territories still to open.

SING (Illumination/Universal) is nearing $250M in the US after a 33% dip to $13.8M/$18.5M, and in the US it’s moved ahead of Moana in the holiday cartoon race (despite the Disney film having a 1-month head start).  Overseas it’s at $164.3M after a $13.2M weekend in 61 markets that don’t yet include China, Japan, the UK, France or Russia.

ROGUE ONE (Lucasfilm/Disney) is now essentially playing worldwide, and it appears that its global total will be around $1.05B, split almost evenly between the US and overseas.  (It had a $13.8M/$17M weekend in the US, and a $21.9M weekend internationally.)  That will represent a 43% drop from The Force Awakens in the US, which is respectable for the franchise’s first spin-off, but it’s a 54% drop overseas, which is a very disappointing result despite the huge numbers, especially considering how much work Disney put in to carefully cast international performers and promote the film overseas.  As weird as it is to call a gross over $1B an “underperformance,” that’s the case here, and while 2017’s Chapter VIII will undoubtedly gross far more than Rogue One, the studio will need to push the Young Han Solo installment that follows.

PASSENGERS (Village Roadshow/Columbia/Sony) seems like it’s going to ride international success to a moderate profit.  While its US total is still struggling toward $100M after a $5.6M/$7M weekend, overseas it’s at $147.1M after a $32.5M weekend that was dominated by $17.5M from its opening in China (with Japan still to come).

The news was less good for ASSASSIN’S CREED (Regency/20th), which probably won’t hit $60M in the US (it had a $1.5M/$2M weekend), and is at $132.4M overseas after a $23.1M weekend in 71 markets (not including Japan).  Breakeven is still possible, but it will be a stretch.

UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS (Screen Gems/Sony) plunged 58% despite the holiday in the US to $5.8/$7M for the weekend, and probably won’t hit $40M.  Overseas, it’s at $46.8M after a $1.4M weekend in 31 markets.

LION (Weinstein) is benefiting from some recent awards attention, up 9% from last weekend to $2.3M/$2.8M.  It’s still at just $13.3M after 8 weeks of release, but if it can pull a Best Picture nomination, that number may climb.

MOONLIGHT (A24) inched back into wide release at 582 theatres with a $1.1M/$1.4M weekend.  It’s still very much an indie at a $14.6M US total.

LIMITED RELEASE:  ELLE (Sony Classics) capitalized on its Golden Globe wins with a jump to 209 theatres, where it averaged a mild $1500 for the 3-day weekend.  20TH CENTURY WOMEN (A24) roughly tripled its theatres to 29 and averaged an OK $11K.  JULIETA (Sony Classics), also at 29, averaged $4600.  PATERSON (Bleecker Street) averaged $6800 at 14.  TONI ERDMANN (Sony Classics) is on a very slow boat, at just 5 theatres after 4 weeks of release, and averaging $8200 while it waits for the Oscar nominations.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The first “big” opening of 2017 falls to XXX: THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE (Paramount), which will be joined by M. Night Shyamalan’s SPLIT (Universal), as well as THE FOUNDER (Weinstein), which is still hoping for a dark-horse Best Actor nomination, and the Christian-aimed THE RESURRECTION OF GAVIN STONE (High Top), as well as an expansion of 20th Century Women.



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."