December 14, 2014

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 12/14/14


OPENINGS:  The big box office news of this weekend happened overseas, where THE HOBBIT:  THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES (New Line/MGM/Warners) has already opened in 37 territories to a massive $117.6M in advance of its US launch next week.  The Hobbit movies have done overwhelmingly well overseas, with the previous installments earning respectively 70% and 73% of their total box office internationally.  Compared to last year’s Desolation of Smaug, Armies has a lighter gross (Smaug earned $135.5M in its first overseas weekend) but it also opened in fewer territories (37 vs. 49).

In the US, EXODUS: GODS & KINGS (20th) led the box office, but very underwhelmingly, with a $24.5M studio estimate that could easily go below $24M when final numbers are announced tomorrow, since the studio is assuming a very strong Sunday result.  The fact that Hollywood literally has 12 days of Christmas this year (the moviegoing season starts on Dec 24 and runs all the way to Jan 4) may allow Exodus to claw its way to $100M in the US, but it will still have a long way to go to earn back its $275M (including worldwide marketing) cost.  Overseas, Exodus took in $18.8M for the weekend (it’s at $50.2M when revenue from Wed-Thurs openings are counted) in 27 territories, which compares to a $33.6M weekend overseas start for Noah in 22 markets.  Here, again, the extended holiday season will help, and Exodus could reach Noah‘s $362.6M worldwide total.  However, Exodus will be competing in the holiday spectacle department with Hobbit 3, which is a daunting prospect.

Chris Rock’s TOP FIVE (Paramount) started in only 979 theatres and had a pleasing $7.2M weekend (its per-theatre average was higher than Exodus‘s, even though the latter was boosted by 3D ticket prices).  While Exodus had a 4% Saturday bump, Top Five increased by 14%, indicating strong word of mouth, and the plan is for it to expand through the holidays.

HOLDOVERS:  THE HUNGER GAMES; MOCKINGJAY PART I (Lionsgate) led the way, falling 40% to $13.2M.  That’s better than the 48% drop that Catching Fire had in its 4th weekend, but last year’s Hunger Games installment had to compete with the 2d Hobbit movie, while this year’s Hobbit opted for a later opening in the US.  Mockingjay is at $277.4M in the US, and after a $16M weekend it’s at $334M overseas.  It won’t catch up with Catching Fire‘s $424.7M US total (although the holiday season gives it a shot of reaching the $332.3M of Guardians of the Galaxy), and even with China to come, also may not match Catching Fire‘s overseas total of $440M.

THE PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR (DreamWorks Animation/20th) held well, down 33% to $7.3M, but that still puts it at only $58.8M after 4 weekends, with its direct competition about to arrive.  $100M seems like a faraway goal.  Overseas, Penguins earned $14.7M in 51 territories for a $116.7M total, and it seems unlikely to get much past $300M worldwide.  BIG HERO 6 (Disney) has proven to be the family movie of choice this fall, down 24% to $6.1M in its 6th weekend for a $185.3M US total.  It’s still in just 32 mostly smaller overseas markets, where it’s earned $68.2M.  Next weekend it arrives in Japan, which has the potential to be a very big territory for the cartoon.

INTERSTELLAR (Paramount/Warners) is still holding up well, down 29% to $5.5M and a $166.8M US total.  Overseas, it’s far bigger, with $455M after an $11.4M weekend.  It still has a chance of hitting $700M worldwide.

HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 (New Line/Warners) and DUMB & DUMBER TO (Red Granite/Universal) are hanging around, respectively down 45% to $4.6M ($43.6M total) and down 36% to $2.8M ($82M total).

On the Oscar hopeful front, THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (Focus/Universal) widened its run by almost 50% to 1220 theatres, but still fell 5% from last weekend with an OK $2100 per-theatre average.  Although it did well with the Golden Globes, so far Eddie Redmayne hasn’t been the awards magnet that some expected.  BIRDMAN (Fox Searchlight), on the other hand, despite decreasing its theatre count by 20% to 606, rose 15% for the weekend with a $2200 average in its 9th weekend of release.

LIMITED RELEASE:  INHERENT VICE (Warners) easily had the per-theatre win for the weekend with a $66K average at 5 NY/LA houses.  That, however, was far below the averages for Paul Thomas Anderson’s last 2 openings ($147K for The Master, $95K for There Will Be Blood), and didn’t even equal the $73K opening average for Punch-Drunk Love back in 2002.  That’s not necessarily predictive of how Vice will do nationwide, but it does suggest that Anderson’s core audience, a crucial group for him, isn’t responding to Vice with the same level of excitement that they had for his other films.  WILD (Fox Searchight) widened to 116 theatres with a solid $13K average.  THE IMITATION GAME (Weinstein) expanded beautifully to 25 theatres with a $35K average.  FOXCATCHER (Sony Classics) continues a very conservative release, adding just 4 theatres for a total of 79 after 5 weeks of release, and fell 30% from last weekend with a $5100 average.  THE HOMESMAN (Roadside) widened by almost 50% to 223 theatres, but still fell 22% with a $1700 average.

NEXT WEEK:  The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies is having an unusual US launch.  It will screen on Monday night only for those who have sat through (or at least paid for) a marathon of all 3 Hobbit movies–it’s not clear how (or if) the box office from those showings will be reported.  It then opens generally on Tuesday night.  The other Hobbits opened on Thursday nights, so weekend comparisons won’t be apples-to-apples.  Meanwhile, in case the studio didn’t already have enough problems, the remake of ANNIE (Sony) has been torpedoed by early reviews.  It will duel for the family audience with A NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM:  SECRET OF THE TOMB (20th), which hasn’t been treated much more enthusiastically.  The weekend’s Oscar hopeful is MR TURNER (Sony Classics), which will especially be hoping that star Timothy Spall gets Best Actor recognition.

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."