February 19, 2017

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 2.19.17


OPENINGS:  THE GREAT WALL (Legendary/Universal) scraped its way to $18.1M in the US, and should add another $3M or so on Monday.  The $50M it will hope to reach here will barely pay for its US marketing campaign, so the spectacle lives or dies overseas.  Right now it’s at $244.6M in the rest of the world, of which $171M is from China (where the financiers reportedly retain 40% of gross), and this weekend brought in $19M from 46 territories, with Brazil, Italy and Japan to come.  Assuming an ultimate worldwide total of $350M against $275M in production/marketing costs, it might or might not break even, depending on ancillary revenues (which will also be disproportionately Chinese), but it certainly hasn’t done anything to prove that China can produce an international blockbuster or to help Matt Damon’s brand.

FIST FIGHT (New Line/Warners) was surprisingly subdued at $12M (plus $2M on Monday).  The production budget was moderate, and by Warners standards the marketing was low-key (compare it to the ads for Kong:  Skull Island that have already been running for weeks with that film’s opening still 3 weeks away), but with limited international appeal, this one isn’t putting money in anyone’s pockets.

The weekend’s disaster is A CURE FOR WELLNESS (Regency/20th).  In the US, it trudged to an ugly $4.2M (it might reach $5M with Monday), and overseas it managed just $4.5M in 36 territories.  Although it still has a fair amount of the world ahead, the only question is how much of the $125M production/marketing investment it’s going to lose.  This is a big Strike 2 for director Gore Verbinski after the thud of The Lone Ranger, and he may need to get back into the franchise business quickly.

HOLDOVERS:  The failures of the newcomers helped the films already at the multiplex, and THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE (Warners Animation) easily retained the #1 slot in the US, down 35% from last weekend to $34.2M.  That’s not quite as good as the 28% Weekend 2 drop for The LEGO Movie, but it’s fine nevertheless, and is running about 30% below LEGO after 10 days of release, which could leave it at $175M in the US.  Overseas, it earned $21.5M in 62 markets (just about everywhere but China and Japan) for a $72M total, and barring a bonanza in China, will probably similarly run about 30% below LEGO.  That would give it a modestly successful $325M worldwide total on $200M or so in costs, which could put the next in the series, this fall’s LEGO Ninjago Movie, under some pressure.

Since it wasn’t competing with an opening weekend that included Valentine’s Day, FIFTY SHADES DARKER (Universal) had a much better Weekend 2 than 50 Shades of Grey on a percentage basis, down 55% (to $21M) instead of 74% (to $22.3M).  Nevertheless, at a running total of $89.7M in the US, it’s 30% below Grey‘s 10-day US total, heading for $120M.  As was the case on Grey, things are much brighter overseas, where Darker is at $187.2M after a $43.7M weekend in 59 territories, with Japan (a low-grossing $3.6M market for Grey) to come.  A $400M worldwide total would be very profitable for Universal, although if the declines continue for next year’s conclusion to the trilogy, the margins may be much reduced.

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 (Summit/Lionsgate) dropped 46% to $16.5M, and although that was a slightly steeper Weekend 2 decline than the 45% for the first Wick, on a dollar basis Chapter 2 is way ahead with $58.7M after 10 days compared to $27.5M.  Overseas, Chapter 2 is at $31.8M after a $15.6M weekend in 62 territories, with a few more to come, and it will certainly surpass Wick‘s $45.7M international total.  Unless Keanu Reeves decides he’s done, another installment is a sure thing.

The last full weekend before the Oscars brought lots of ticket buyers out to see the nominees.  HIDDEN FIGURES (20th) continues to top the list, down 11% to $7.1M for a $143.6M US total, plus $21.3M overseas after a $7.3M weekend in 31 markets.  LA LA LAND (Summit/Lionsgate) dipped 9% to $4.5M for a $132.5M US total, and it’s also cleaning up overseas, where it’s at a remarkable $206.1M after a $31.7M weekend (including $24.5M from China), with its final territories opening this week.  LION (Weinstein) increased its theatre count by about 15% and climbed 4% for the weekend to $4.1M and a $36.4M US total–the only downside to this success story is that Weinstein Company is spending heavily in marketing, so it’s not clear how much profit will be left at the end.  FENCES (Bron/Paramount) widened by 20% and rose 4% for a $750K weekend and $55.1M US total.  MOONLIGHT (A24) added 30% to its theatre count and rose 19% to a $620K weekend and $21.5M US total.

Universal’s pair of SPLIT (Blumhouse/Universal) and A DOG’S PURPOSE (Walden/Amblin/Reliance/Universal) continue to be popular, respectively down 26% to $7M ($123.6M US total, plus $69.5M overseas after a $8.9M weekend in most of the world), and 24% to $5.6M ($50.7M US total, plus $13.9M in early overseas release).

While it’s not much in the US with $44.3M after a $400K weekend, XXX: THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE (Shanghai/Huahua/Paramount) is hugely popular in China, where it’s at $134.3M, fueling a $263.8M overseas total (the weekend was $27.6M in 58 territories, all but $1.4M of it from China), with Japan still to come.  That’s not quite as profitable as it looks, because the studios probably retain only about 25% of China revenue, but it’s still a reminder of how powerful the overseas market can be.

LIMITED RELEASE:  EVERYBODY LOVES SOMEBODY (Pantelion/Lionsgate) catered to the Spanish-language audience with a $1M opening in 333 theatres.  I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO (Magnolia) expanded well to 205 theatres with a $3800 per-theatre average, and is already at $3.2M, a solid number for an indie documentary.  A UNITED KINGDOM (Focus/Universal) is finding only moderate traction with an expansion to 45 theatres and a $6K average, despite an aggressive in-theatre Q&A schedule.  Both of the presumed frontrunners for Best Foreign Film expanded with similar results, as THE SALESMAN (Cohen) averaged $2500 in 94 theatres, and TONI ERDMANN (Sony Classics) averaged $2100 at 102.  Fellow nominee LAND OF MINE (Sony Classics) averaged $3100 at 5.

NEXT WEEKEND:  Things won’t be any more exciting on Oscar weekend, with a trio of openings led by Jordan Peele’s critically-lauded horror/sociological commentary thriller GET OUT (Blumhouse/Universal), followed by the long-postponed COLLIDE (Open Road) and the animated ROCK DOG (Summit/Lionsgate).


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."