January 18, 2015

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 1/18/15


A strong Saturday lifted everything at the multiplex.

OPENINGS:  Obviously AMERICAN SNIPER (Warners/Village Roadshow) wouldn’t be what it is without Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper, but the contributions of the Warners marketing group shouldn’t be overlooked.  Building the trailer and the initial TV ads almost entirely around the one moment in the film where Cooper’s character has to decide whether to shoot a young boy was a masterstroke, and the print ads, instead of emphasizing, the star, director or action scenes, instead featured a single anguished figure in a lot of white space, giving the film the aura of a serious event.  It all paid off, as Sniper actually managed to climb 14% from its giant Friday.  It’s now projecting for a $90.2M 3-day weekend and should have at least $105M by Monday.  That decimates all sorts of records, from January wide openings to Eastwood’s career mark, and it’s the 2d-highest opening ever for an R-rated movie (behind only the 2d Matrix).  The next point for speculation will be whether the magnitude of this success will have any effect on the Oscar race, where Sniper was considered to have very little chance.  Overseas, Sniper is now in 8 markets, where it earned $9.3M this weekend for $25.4M to date.

THE WEDDING RINGER (Screen Gems/Sony) rose 20% on Saturday and is now forecasting a $21M 3-day weekend and $25M by Monday.  That puts it at the low end of Kevin Hart’s star vehicles, below the 3-day $25.6M for About Last Night, and although Screen Gems will do OK with it, it’s a disappointment considering that the movie has been relentlessly promoted for months.

PADDINGTON (Weinstein) already has $122.2M overseas, and it had a solid US start.  Family audiences pushed it up 80% on Saturday, and while it’s below Wedding Ringer for the 3-day weekend at $19.3M, it should pull at least even to $25-26M with Monday included.

It’s never a good sign when a studio whispers to its media lackeys that its financial exposure on a movie is limited, and BLACKHAT (Universal/Legendary) earned that kind of rats-off-the-sinking-ship treatment with a disastrous $4M 3-day weekend (up 14% on Saturday) that will keep it below $5M even with Monday counted.  In this case, Legendary–which had put the film into production before the financier was tied with Universal–apparently retained responsibility for worldwide marketing costs, which means it’ll shoulder the majority of the red ink, although there will be plenty for Universal too.  Blackhat didn’t look any stronger overseas, where it had a $2.2M weekend in 19 territories, including several of the Asian countries where the film had hoped to strike gold (although not yet China or Japan).

HOLDOVERS:  TAKEN 3 (20th) was at the top of the list with $14.1M for the 3-day weekend and a projected $17M including Monday, but the Fri-Sun number is down a big 64%, due to the arrival of Sniper and the fact that Taken 3 is awful.  Overseas, the franchise entry is much stronger, boasting a $31.4M weekend and a $99M total.  Other non-Oscar holdovers include THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES (New Line/MGM/Warners) down 48% to $4.9M and a $244.5M US total (less than $1M ahead of Desolation of Smaug), plus $9.8M overseas for a $558.6M total, with China opening next Friday.  NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB (20th) fell 43% in the US to $3.8M ($104.3M total), plus $17.8M overseas for a $179.9M total.  The bottom dropped out of ANNIE (Sony/Columbia), down 60% to $1.9M and a $82M US total, plus $1.7M in 24 territories for a $22.2M total.  UNBROKEN (Universal/Legendary), essentially ignored by the Academy, dropped 48% in the US to $4.3M and a $108.6M total, plus $6.6M in 32 overseas territories and a blah $21.8M total.

The Oscar candidates were led by SELMA (Paramount), which had plotted out its release for this weekend, with the combination of the Oscar nominations and the Martin Luther King Day weekend.  Despite all that, the film declined 27% from last weekend to $8.3M over 3 days, with another $2M in store for tomorrow.  It seems as though it may have to struggle to reach $50M in the US.

THE IMITATION GAME (Weinstein), on the other hand, is continuing to romp with an audience that’s now far beyond the art-house crowd.  It remained essentially unchanged from last weekend at $7.2M, and has $50.8M in the US, right on the heels of Grand Budapest Hotel‘s $59.1M as the biggest 2014 indie release.  In addition, it has $51.5M overseas after a $6.6M weekend.

INTO THE WOODS (Disney) slipped 32% to $6.5M for the 3-day weekend and $114.3M in the US, plus $7.3M in 20 overseas territories ($26M total).  BIRDMAN (Fox Searchlight) doubled its run to 471 theatres and more than doubled its 3-day weekend to $1.6M and a $28.3M total.  INHERENT VICE (Warners), though, collapsed by 58% to $1.2M and $6.5M to date.  WILD (Fox Searchlight) lost a lot of theatres and sank by 46% to $1.5M ($33M total).  FOXCATCHER (Sony Classics) tripled its theatres to 759 and more than doubled its 3-day weekend to $1.1M ($10.1M total).  THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (Focus/Universal) increased its theatres by 25% and rose 43% from last weekend to $1M ($27.3M total), and also earned $8M overseas for a $31M total.

LIMITED RELEASE:  STILL ALICE (Sony Classics) opened in 12 theatres to capitalize on Julianne Moore’s Oscar nomination and had an OK $17K per-theatre average.  A MOST VIOLENT YEAR (A24) was ignored by the Oscars, so its expansion to 39 theatres was mild with a $8K average.  MR. TURNER (Sony Classics) slipped just 17% at 37 theatres (down 2) with a $5400 average.  TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT (IFC) tripled to 15 theatres with a $7800 average.  LEVIATHAN (Sony Classics), now at 6 theatres, had a $9100 average.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The odd-looking Johnny Depp vehicle MORTDECAI (Lionsgate) finally arrives, as does the Jennifer Lopez thriller THE BOY NEXT DOOR (Universal) and the animated STRANGE MAGIC (Lucasfilm/Disney).  Limited releases include BLACK SEA (Focus/Universal) and the critically acclaimed MOMMY (Roadside).  

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."