February 15, 2015

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 2/15/15


OPENINGS:  This year’s Saturday night Valentine’s Day worked out well for everyone this weekend, but especially for FIFTY SHADES OF GREY (Universal/Focus).  The prospect of some kink refreshed the movie’s audience from Friday’s fan-girls to a horde of couples, and the result was that despite the huge $30.3M opening day, the box office went up on Saturday by 21% to $36.7M.  Universal is already estimating a steep 60% Sunday drop (15 points higher than anything else in the Top 10), so its $81.7M 3-day weekend estimate should hold up, and might even rise in actuals–and that’s not counting the Monday holiday, which should boost 50 Shades to $90.7M in the US.  But wait–those are the low end of the 50 Shades numbers.  Overseas, where the bondage romance began opening in its 58 territories on Wednesday, it’s earned an amazing $158M in 5 days, shredding the previous record for an R-rated movie ($117M for The Matrix Reloaded).  That $158M is just barely below Universal’s all-time foreign opening record, $160.3M for the far more expensive Fast & Furious 6.  It goes without saying that with a worldwide total of $248.7M by Monday, 50 Shades is already in profit on its $150-175M production/marketing costs, and every additional ticket after this just adds to the bounty.  The only surprise at this point is that the studio hasn’t yet announced that not only will the 50 Shades sequels be made, but that the last installment of the book trilogy will be divided into two movies.

KINGSMAN:  THE SECRET SERVICE (MARV/20th) was very smart counterprogramming for the female-oriented 50 Shades, and it paid off with a $35.6M 3-day opening, which includes a very sweet 47% Valentine’s Day bump, and which should extend to $41M with Monday included.  Kingsman was also busy overseas, opening in 38 territories with $23.1M ($43.8M so far).  With a production/marketing total around $200M, Kingsman is likely to find moderate profit.

On a much smaller scale, STILL ALICE (Sony Classics) expanded its way to a barely wide release at 502 theatres in advance of next week’s expected Oscar for star Julianne Moore, and is estimating an OK $3400 per-theatre average for the 3 -day weekend.

HOLDOVERS:  As family movies go, THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE OUT OF WATER (Nickelodeon/Paramount) had a merely fair hold, down 45% to $30.5M, with $37.6M expected once Monday’s holiday is included.  (By way of comparison, Paddington dropped 35% in its 2d weekend, and last year’s blockbuster LEGO Movie slipped just 28%.)  That was still enough to put SpongeBob over $100M by Monday.  Overseas, SpongeBob is at $46.3M after a $13.5M weekend in 29 territories.

AMERICAN SNIPER (Village Roadshow/Warners) and THE IMITATION GAME (Weinstein) are the Oscar contenders still at the $1M+ weekend level.  Sniper dropped 29% and added $16.4M to its massive total ($19.4M including Monday), which puts it over $300M in the US and gives it a very good chance of passing Mockingjay‘s $336.2M for the title of 2014’s biggest movie.  Imitation was down 25% to $3.5M ($4M with Monday), which will have it over $80M in the US by the end of the holiday weekend.

The rest of last weekend’s openings were left by the side of the road.  JUPITER ASCENDING (Village Roadshow/Warners) fell 49% to $9.4M ($11M including Monday) for a dismal total that will be under $35M.  Even worse, any hope of scoring a huge overseas success to make up for its US failure faded after a $15.6M weekend that gives it just $58.9M–even though China, along with Japan and Australia, is still to open, there’s no way it can recapture an investment that’s been estimated at $300-350M.  SEVENTH SON (Legendary/Universal) dropped 43% to $4.2M (with an extra $600K on Monday), putting it nowhere with a $13.4M US total.

LIMITED RELEASE:  OLD-FASHIONED (Freestyle) is a low-budget rom-com that also played the Valentine’s Day card, giving it a fair general release at 224 theatres with a $4900 per-theatre average.  WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (Paladin), at 5 NY/LA area theatres, had an OK $16K average.  THE LAST FIVE YEARS (Radius/Weinstein), which opened simultaneously in 3 theatres and on VOD, averaged $15K in its theatrical run.  The Israeli  GETT:  THE TRIAL OF VIVIAN AMSELEM (Music Box) started well with a $12K average at 2 theatres.

NEXT WEEKEND:  Nothing with the noise of this weekend’s big event.  Instead, we get the latest Kevin Costner sports drama MCFARLAND, USA (Disney), teen comedy THE DUFF (Lionsgate) and HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 (Paramount).  In addition, Best Foreign Film nominee WILD TALES (Sony Classics) begins its 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."