February 12, 2017

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 2.13.17


OPENINGS:  The split between US and international box office was unusually evident this weekend.  In the US, THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE (Warner Animation) was on top with $55.6M, although that number may be a bit shaky since it assume only a 25% Sunday drop, while the more popular LEGO Movie ($69.1M opening weekend) fell 31% on its first Sunday.  Nevertheless, this is a strong start for a mid-priced franchise with $175-200M in total production/marketing costs.  The less good news was overseas, where the first LEGO had only a moderate footprint, earning 55% of its worldwide total in the US.  The same may be true of the Batman spin-off, as it took in a comparatively dim $37M in all major markets except China, Japan and Australia.  (LEGO Movie had a more gradual release pattern, so the opening weekends aren’t really comparable.)  With that start, it’s not clear whether LEGO Batman will get to the first movie’s $211M overseas total, let alone build the franchiseIt’s a problem Warners sees clearly, as the next release will be the fall’s LEGO Ninjago, aimed squarely at Asian audiences.

FIFTY SHADES DARKER (Perfect World/Universal) was the US also-ran with $46.8M.  That’s far below the $85.2M opening of Fifty Shades of Grey, but was expected as Grey‘s opening weekend included Valentine’s Day, which gave the film a 21% Saturday bump.  (Darker fell 26% on Saturday.)  This is another reasonably-priced franchise, with $175M in total costs, and it’s hugely popular overseas, where it’s claiming a slightly implausible $100.1M (had to claim 9 digits) in 57 territories (some have been playing since last Wednesday) covering virtually all major markets except Japan.  (Grey didn’t get a run in China and it’s not clear whether Darker will either.)  As with LEGO, this is a profitable if B-level franchise.

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 (Thunder Road/Summit/Lionsgate) was expected to overperform compared to the modest original (it became a hit on home media), and it did with a $30M weekend, more than doubling the first’s $14.4M.  It’s worth noting that while sequels tend to be more front-loaded, Wick 2 climbed by 4% compared to a 1% drop for the initial Wick.  Although Wick 2 opened in 41 territories, they were relatively small ones, so the $10.6M result is just a start.  Here, again, we have a franchise whose costs have been kept under control, and which should do well enough to justify future chapters.

HOLDOVERS:  SPLIT (Blumhouse/Universal) continues to have great legs for a horror movie, down just 35% in its 4th weekend to $9.3M for a $112.3M running total.  Overseas, it’s at $57.1M after an $8.5M weekend in 41 markets, with lots of territories still on deck.

HIDDEN FIGURES (20th) has pulled ahead of its fellow Best Picture nominees with a $131.5M total after a tiny 22% drop to $8M.  (It’s still barely in release overseas with a $12.6M total after a $2.6M weekend.)  LA LA LAND (Summit/Lionsgate) had a $5M weekend, down 32% for a $126M US total, and also with $168.3M overseas after an $11.5M weekend, with China and Japan still to come.  LION (Weinstein) has found its word of mouth sweet spot, with an impressive 9% weekend increase to $4.1M despite shedding a few theatres, putting it at $30.4M in the US and $14.1M overseas.

Despite the arrival of LEGO Batman, A DOG’S PURPOSE (Walden/Amblin/Reliance/Universal) is holding onto a chunk of the family audience, down 30% to $7.4M, and looking as though it should reach at least $55M in the US (it’s also at $13.8M overseas).

RINGS (Paramount) dropped 55% to $5.8M, and may not get to $35M in the US.  Overseas, it’s at $30.3M after a $9.6M weekend in 44 territories.  THE SPACE BETWEEN US (Huayi/STX) fell 53% to $1.8M in the US, unlikely to get past $10M.  RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER (Screen Gems/Sony) plunged 71% to $1.4M and won’t reach $30M in the US, but it’s at $110.4M overseas after a $6.5M weekend, with China, Russia and Italy still to open.

Thinking of China, while XXX: THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE (Paramount) bombed in the US ($43.1M after a $1.5M weekend), it had a smashing $61.9M opening in China, boosting its overseas gross to $186.5M.  Remember that Hollywood studios are allowed to keep a smaller percentage of ticket sales in China than anywhere else in the world, so this isn’t quit the bonanza that it appears to be, but it will certainly help.

LIMITED RELEASE:  Boosted by an extensive weekend-long series of in-theatre Q&As in NY and LA, A UNITED KINGDOM (Focus/Universal) averaged an OK $17.5K at 4 arthouses.  I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO (Magnolia) expanded to 115 theatres with a $7200 average.  THE SALESMAN (Cohen) widened to 65 theatres with a $4K average.  PATERSON (Bleecker Street) averaged $2500 at 70.  TONI ERDMANN (Sony Classics) nearly doubled its run to 49 theatres and averaged $2700.  LAND OF MINE (Sony Classics) opened light with a $5300 average at 3.

NEXT WEEKEND:  Despite the Presidents Day holiday, the wide openings look soft on paper:  gothic thriller A CURE FOR WELLNESS (20th), Ice Cube/Charlie Day comedy vehicle FIST FIGHT (New Line/Warners), and the Matt Damon fantasy adventure THE GREAT WALL (Universal), which already has $224.6M from its international run, 75% of it from China (where it’s considered a homegrown production, allowing it to keep more of its revenue).

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."