February 14, 2016

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 2/14/16


A Valentine’s Day in the middle of Presidents Day weekend allowed for strong Sunday studio estimates–in one case, suspiciously so.

OPENINGS:  A couple of notable sidelights to the gargantuan success of DEADPOOL (Marvel/20th), which has the #17 opening of all time at $135.1M (probably $155M with the Monday holiday), is now the highest-opening R-rated movie ever and the #2 franchise launch (behind The Hunger Games) ever, and has also earned $125.1M in 61 overseas territories, with some key nations like Italy and Japan still to come.  First, although it’s technically a spin-off of the X-Men franchise (which is why Fox was able to make it in the first place, since Marvel now keeps all its properties in-house), it out-opened every film in that series, easily beating X-Men: The Last Stand‘s $102.8M.  Also, it excruciatingly ramps up the already intense pressure on Warners’ Batman v. Superman, which opens in less than 6 weeks.  B v. S cost somewhere between triple and quadruple Deadpool‘s $60M to produce and will undoubtedly have one of the most expensive marketing campaigns of all time, and whether it’s fair or not, whether this is apples-to-apples or apples-to-spare-tires, the DC Comics spectacle will be considered a major disappointment if it starts lower than Fox’s cheeky superhero comedy.  (A bad sign for Warners:  among the wreckage in Deadpool‘s wake was the $116.6M opening of Man of Steel.)

HOW TO BE SINGLE (RatPac/MGM/New Line/Warners) started mildly with $18.8M over 3 days, and that includes a 25% bump for Valentine’s Day.  (It also earned $8.1M in overseas markets covering around 1/3 of the world.)  It will all be downhill for Single after tonight, with a $40M US total possible–enough to pay off its moderate production budget, but not its marketing campaign.

It was desperately important for ZOOLANDER 2 (Paramount) to avoid the humiliation of an opening weekend that couldn’t even beat the $15.5M that the first Zoolander made 15 years ago, and sure enough, the studio’s estimate is $15.7M.  That number, however, requires a massive 45% increase from Saturday to Sunday, almost double the next highest studio estimate for the day.  Of course, who knows–maybe Paramount has some super-proprietary algorithm that justifies such a claim, and it will be an overwhelming Valentine’s Day favorite.  More likely, though, the number will quietly be reduced a couple of days from now when final weekend results are released and no one is paying attention.  (UPDATE:  On Monday morning, Paramount revised its Sunday estimate from a 45% bump to one that wasn’t even 10%, reducing its 3-day weekend estimate to $13.95M, not even close to the original Zoolander’s mark.  The studio issued no comment on the huge disparity from its original “estimate”.)  In any case, Zoolander 2 is a major flop, since it cost far more to produce and market than its predecessor did.  It will benefit, at least, from the expansion of the overseas box office in general since 2001, with $8.5M earned so far in 20 markets covering 1/3 of the world, compared to the $15.6M foreign total for the first movie.  Nevertheless, with all his franchises currently moribund, the failure puts Ben Stiller’s career in a precarious position.

HOLDOVERS:  KUNG FU PANDA 3 (DreamWorks Animation/20th) will benefit most from Monday’s holiday, and that should put it above the $100M mark in the US by the end of the 4-day weekend, after a $19.7M weekend (down just 8%) through Sunday.  It’s unlikely to match the $165.2M US total of Panda 2.  Overseas, though, it already has $162.2M, despite playing in just 7 territories (the vast bulk of its international gross is the $124.6M from China), so Panda 2‘s $500.4M foreign total is still in play.

THE REVENANT (Regency/20th) slipped less than 1% from last weekend to $6.9M, giving it a $159.2M US total.  In addition, it’s at $201.9M overseas after a $14M weekend in most (but not all) of the world, and is remarkably heading for $400M+ worldwide, a very happy ending for a genuinely risky venture, a deadly serious and yet highly expensive art film.  STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (Lucasfilm/Disney) declined 11% to $6.2M, increasing its US record to $914.8M, plus $1.11B overseas after a $4.3M weekend.

HAIL, CAESAR (Universal) took a 42% fall despite the holiday weekend to $6.6M, giving it $21.4M in the US (it hasn’t opened overseas yet) and a hope of reaching $40M, which still wouldn’t be enough to get out of red ink despite its relatively low production cost.  THE CHOICE (Lionsgate) should be buoyed by Valentine’s Day to a 13% weekend drop to $5.3M and a sad $13.3M US total.  That looks good, though, compared to PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES (Cross Creek/Screen Gems/Sony), which plunged 53% to a $2.5M weekend and $9.4M US total.

LIMITED RELEASE:  WHERE TO INVADE NEXT (IMG) had an OK start in 308 theatres with a $3400 per-theatre average for the 3-day weekend.  THE LADY IN THE VAN (Sony Classics) expanded well to 130 theatres with a $4200 average.  45 YEARS (IFC) was less impressive, widening to 237 theatres with a $2100 average.

NEXT WEEKEND:  Deadpool will face little competition in its 2d weekend.  The openings are the Jesse Owens biopic RACE (Focus/Universal), Christian-themed RISEN (Columbia/Sony) and low-budget (although critically praised) horror item THE WITCH (A24).

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."