February 7, 2016

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 2/7/16


OPENINGS:  It was only 20 years into their career, with 2007’s No Country For Old Men ($74.3M in the US) that Joel and Ethan Coen began to be considered box office forces, and even after that, only True Grit (their biggest hit at $171.2M) even matched No Country.  All of which is by way of saying that the $11.4M opening for HAIL, CAESAR! (Universal) is far more typical of their box office record than an exception, especially given its period setting, odd mix of farce, Hollywood pastiche and spiritual journey, and mixed critical reception.  The Coens know how to work within a reasonable production budget (reportedly $22M in this case), and while its big-studio marketing may keep Caesar from doing more than breaking even, depending on the film’s international appeal, expectations that were higher than that may have been too optimistic, considering the Coens’ idiosyncratic filmmaking, even with Caesar‘s high-powered cast (most of them in supporting roles).

Nicholas Sparks has had an awfully good run, with 11 adaptations of his novels since Message In A Bottle ($53.9M in 1999), and peaking with $80-81M for The Notebook (2004) and Dear John (2010), but things have been slowing down since then, most recently with $26.8M for The Best Of Me and $37.4M for The Longest Ride, and THE CHOICE (Lionsgate) looks to be his lowest performer to date with a $6.1M opening weekend (less than half of Ride‘s $13M) that suggests a total US gross under $20M.  It may be time to take a break or try a variation on his genre–or move to TV.

The novel PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES (Screen Gems/Sony) was published in 2009, and 7 years is an eternity for this kind of pop culture ephemera.  By 2016, no one cared, and with a dreadful $5.2M opening weekend, it’s unlikely to earn back its $28M production cost (more like $100M with worldwide marketing).

HOLDOVERS:  KUNG FU PANDA 3 (DreamWorks Animation/20th) easily won the weekend with $21M, down 49% from last week’s opening, and although it has Super Bowl Sunday for an excuse for not holding better, that hold was consistent with the previous Panda, which had a 50% drop.  That $21M was down about 10% from Panda 2‘s 2d weekend, although the $69.1M total is down 30% from the 10-day total, suggesting a $135M US total.  The Panda franchise is much more popular overseas, though, where Panda 3 has $129M ($101.7M of it just from China) after a $23M weekend, still in just a few territories.

THE REVENANT (Regency/RatPac/20th) continues to hold well, down 44% to $7.1M in the US for a $149.7M total, plus $176.4M overseas after a $24M weekend in most of the world (but not yet China).  It could be on the way to $400M worldwide (especially if it parlays last night’s DGA award to an Oscar win), making it one of the most unlikely big-budget hits in recent years.  Other Best Picture nominees were topped by $1.8M for THE BIG SHORT (Regency/Paramount) with a $63.7M US total plus $47.9M overseas after a $3.5M weekend in more than half the world, another unexpected success.

There were two milestones this weekend for STAR SARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (Lucasfilm/Disney), as the blockbuster hit $906M in the US after a $6.9M weekend (down a mere 38% despite the Super Bowl), and $2B worldwide after a $7M weekend.

THE FINEST HOURS (Disney) didn’t hold particularly well, down 54% to $4.7M (a tepid $18.4M total), plus $5.8M in early overseas release.  With a roughly $150M production/marketing cost, Hours is in deep water.  However, it looked strong compared to last weekend’s other openers, as 50 SHADES OF BLACK (Open Road) plunged 63% to $2.2M ($9.5M total), and JANE GOT A GUN (Weinstein) utterly collapsed by 85% to $127K ($1.4M total).

LIMITED RELEASE:  REGRESSION (Radius/Weinstein) was DOA with $31K at 100 theatres.  45 YEARS (IFC) expanded to 155 theatres with a fair $3300 per-theatre average.  THE LADY IN THE VAN (Sony Classics) widened to 82 with a $4800 average.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The long Presidents/Valentine’s Day holiday brings a trio of major releases:  the very R-rated superhero adventure comedy DEADPOOL (20th), rom-com HOW TO BE SINGLE (New Line/Warners) and the long-delayed sequel ZOOLANDER 2 (Paramount).


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."