December 21, 2014

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 12/21/14


Although we’re still a few days away from December 25, the holiday movie rush is upon us, which should mean an unusually strong Sunday that will lead into 2 solid weeks of weekday numbers that look more like weekends.

OPENINGS:  THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES (New Line/MGM/Warners) is off to a smashing start with a 3-day weekend of $56.2M and $90.6M since Wednesday.  Audience want-to-see is clearly very high, as the spectacle leaped 67% on Friday and another 29% on Saturday.  The 5-day total is up about 5% from the $86.1M for Desolation of Smaug (which opened on a Friday), although it’s nowhere near the $124.1M start for the Wednesday-opening Return of the King.  At this early stage, it seems to be headed to around $275M in the US.  In addition, Armies owned the rest of the world, with a a $105.5M weekend in virtually every major market except Australia and China.  Its overseas total is $265M so far, and it should make its way to $750M internationally by the time it’s done, which would put it at over $1B worldwide.

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB (20th) and ANNIE (Sony/Columbia) opened very similarly, with weekends of $17.3M and $16.3M respectively, and also behaved the same way on Saturday, rising 16% and 15%.  Those aren’t spectacular numbers for family extravaganzas, but both should thrive during the holidays, with twin $100M results possible by January 4.  After that, their overall prospects remain comparable, as Museum is likely to have more international appeal (it’s now in 27 markets and had a $10.4M weekend; Annie is only in the US for now)–but that will balance against its significantly higher cost.

WILD (Fox Searchlight) expanded to semi-wide release at 1061 theatres for a $4.2M weekend and an OK $3900 per-theatre average.  The movie is likely to need some Best Picture attention and/or some Best Actress wins for Reese Witherspoon to climb to the next level of its path.

HOLDOVERS:  Opening EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS (20th) just 5 days before the arrival of The Hobbit was a decision, and perhaps not a wise one, as Ridley Scott’s Biblical epic was wiped off the board in its 2d weekend, down an ugly 67% to $8.1M.  It has $38.9M to date, and even with the holiday crowds, it may not cross $75M at the US box office.  Overseas, it’s at a healthier $61.2M, but its $7.6M weekend is nothing to crow about, even in just 21 mostly smaller territories.

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART I (Lionsgate) withstood the new openings quite well, dropping just 39% in its 5th weekend to $7.8M.  It’s now at $289.2M in the US, and still seems unlikely to have quite enough in the tank to match Guardians of the Galaxy‘s $332.6M.  Overseas, Mockingjay is at $350.5M, with some territory still to cover before reaching Catching Fire‘s $440.2M.

TOP FIVE (Paramount), alas, is not finding a foothold with audiences.  It was down 48% from last weekend to $3.6M, but really the drop is considerably worse, because Chris Rock’s comedy added 30% to its theatre count, putting its average down 63% from last weekend’s.  Considering the mostly rave reviews and Rock’s active publicity campaign, the marketing campaign has to take some of the blame here.

The fall’s major titles are still hanging around.  PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR (DreamWorks Animation/20th) dropped 51% to $3.5M for a $64.2M total (plus $134.6M overseas after a $16.5M weekend in about 3/4 of the world).  BIG HERO 6 (Disney) fell 41% to $3.6M for a $190.1M total (plus $81.6M after an $11.5M weekend in less than half the world).  INTERSTELLAR (Paramount/Warners) lost 52% to $2.6M for a $171.4M US total, but a much bigger $464M overseas (where it earned $4.5M this weekend).  It’s at $635M worldwide.

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (Focus/Universal) held well but at a medium level, shedding 20% of its theatres for a total of 1011 and dropping 36% to $1.6M, an unexciting $1600 average.

LIMITED RELEASE:  The biggest splash of the indie weekend came from an unexpected direction:  the Bollywood P. K. (UTV) took in $3.5M at just 272 theatres, a sterling $13K per-theatre average.  At this time of the year, the rest of the releases are Oscar hopefuls.  The lone new arrival was MR. TURNER (Sony Classics), which had an OK $22K average at 5 NY/LA theatres.  FOXCATCHER (Sony Classics) expanded to 307 theatres with a bland $3100 average.  BIRDMAN (Fox Searchlight) cut its run to 452 theatres and held onto a $2K average.  THE IMITATION GAME (Weinstein), playing the slow game extremely well, widened softly to 34 theatres with a superb $26K average.  INHERENT VICE (Warners) showed little appeal for non-hardcore Paul Thomas Anderson fans, plunging 55% to a $29K average at 5 theatres.

NEXT WEEK:  As you may have heard, Seth Rogen/James Franco fans will go malnourished this holiday season.  That leaves a sextet of Christmas openings that all have awards hopes.  The wide releases include INTO THE WOODS (Disney), UNBROKEN (Universal) and THE GAMBLER (Paramount), while AMERICAN SNIPER (Warners), BIG EYES (Weinstein) and SELMA (Paramount) enter limited release.


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."