March 1, 2015

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 3/1/15


OPENINGS:  When studios trot out “bad weather” as their excuse for an underwhelming opening, it’s the industry equivalent of citing a homework-eating dog–and this week, it’s particularly clear that the inclement conditions that supposedly affected FOCUS (RatPac Dune/Warners) didn’t interfere at all with the holdovers that performed very strongly over the past 3 days.  The $19.1M opening for Focus (which may dip a bit more tomorrow, since Warners is claiming the 2d lowest Sunday decline in the Top 10) has much more to do with Will Smith’s declining starpower–this is the lowest non-Oscar bait opening he’s had in the past 20 years–and a movie with an uncertain tone and indifferent word of mouth.  Focus may eventually hit breakeven thanks to moderate costs and Smith’s stronger appeal overseas, but even there, a $12.2M opening in 31 markets (1/3 of the world) is far from auspicious.

On its own comparatively tiny terms, THE LAZARUS EFFECT (Blumhouse/Relativity) is in a similar position after a $10.6M opening, probably in need of some help from home media to make back its marketing costs.

THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (Fox Searchlight) doesn’t open here until next week, but it’s off to a good start overseas with $9.3M in just 3 markets, including $5.9M in the UK alone, where it almost doubled the opening of Focus.  The first Exotic Marigold made $90.4M overseas, so the now-franchise is a proven winner internationally.

HOLDOVERS:  50 SHADES OF GREY (Universal/Focus) continued its plunge, down another 51% (the 2d worst drop of the Top 10) to $10.9M, pushing it down to 4th place.  It will probably end up just doubling the box office of its first 3 days over the rest of its US run, although $165-170M for a movie with production costs of just $40M is still superb.  And for whatever sociological reasons, 50 Shades is still a much bigger hit overseas than here, adding another $36M in 59 markets (it only has 2 more to come, because it’s banned in certain parts of the world) for a $338.4M international total.  50 Shades will top $500M worldwide this week, although it may not reach $600M.

KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (MARV/20th) was one of several holdovers that showed strong legs (part of that is due to the weakness of the weekend’s newcomers), down 36% to $11.8M.  It’s now at $85.7M in the US and will easily go over the $100M mark.  In addition, Kingsman brought in $25.6M in 67 overseas markets for a $124M total and several major markets still to open, including China.  It’s heading for a possible $350M global total.

THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE OUT OF WATER (Nickelodeon/Paramount) finally found its legs, dropping just 32% from last weekend to $11.2M, giving it $140.3M in the US, plus $14.2M in 36 overseas markets for $96.3M, with much of the world still to come.  It’s also headed for $350M+ worldwide.

The 29% drop for MCFARLAND, USA (Disney) wasn’t entirely unexpected, given its appeal to older and family audiences that don’t necessarily show up on opening weekend.  It had a $7.8M weekend and is still at a modest $22M, and will hope to power its way to $50M.  More impressive, given its frontloaded teen girl audience, was the 34% drop (to $7.2M) for THE DUFF (CBS/Lionsgate), which suggests extremely strong word of mouth.  DUFF is at $20.1M, and may have some staying power over the next several weeks.

That won’t be the case for HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 (MGM/Par), which dived by 60% to $2.4M, and won’t end up with much more than its current $10.3M total.

Oscar winners got their bump this weekend, although in the case of AMERICAN SNIPER (Village Roadshow/Warners), that’s probably less due to its one technical award than its general strength.  It slipped just 23% to $7.7M, and is now at a gigantic $331.1M, poised to top Guardians of the Galaxy and then Mockingjay over the next week or so to become 2014’s biggest US release.  In addition, Sniper took in $19.5M overseas, where it’s now at $139.1M.  STILL ALICE (Sony Classics) capitalized on Julianne Moore’s win by increasing its theatre count by about 70% and its weekend by 24% to a fine $2.7M.  It has almost $12M so far, and could easily get past $20M.  BIRDMAN (Fox Searchlight) is already available for home viewing, but it tripled its run to 1213 theatres and more than doubled last weekend to nearly $2M, allowing it to get to $40.3M, although it’s unlikely to get much higher in US theatres.  Overseas, the Best Picture winner added $5.8M for a $46M total.  THE IMITATION GAME (Weinstein) lost 20% of its theatres but only fell 24% for the weekend to $1.9M, and is now at $86.8M in the US. WHIPLASH (Sony Classics) and THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (Focus/Universal) still had sub-$1M weekends ($677K and $649K, to be exact), but they were respectively up 19% and 17% from last weekend.

LIMITED RELEASE:  A LA MALA (Lionsgate), the latest effort to reach the Latino audience, had an OK $1.4M opening at 384 theatres, giving it a $3800 per-theatre average.  WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (Paladin) tripled to 46 theatres and had a $5700 average.  LEVIATHAN (Sony Classics) lost its bid for Best Foreign Film but nevertheless nearly doubled its run to 80 theatres and had a $1600 average.  Similarly, WILD TALES (Sony Classics) climbed to 18 theatres despite its loss and had a $6100 average. MAPS TO THE STARS (Focus World), also on VOD, had a $2100 average at 66.  ’71 (Roadside) had a fair $15K average at 4.  The documentary DELI MAN (Cohen Media) averaged $2400 at 15.

NEXT WEEKEND:  CHAPPIE (Columbia/Sony) is the week’s big-budget arrival, the latest version of the one about the robot with a personality.  Vince Vaughn will try, try again with UNFINISHED BUSINESS (20th).  And while the first Best Exotic Marigold Hotel launched in just 27 theatres and built its way upwards, the sequel will open quite wide for an indie, at something like 1400 theatres.


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."