March 20, 2016

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 3/20/16


OPENINGS:  Things didn’t get better for ALLEGIANT (Summit/Lionsgate) as the weekend went on.  Its $29.1M opening was down an awful 44% from the $52.3M for Insurgent, and with massive competition arriving next week and word of mouth that’s likely to be terrible, it may struggle to get past $75M in the US.  As we noted on Friday night, Lionsgate covered itself by pre-selling most of the international rights, which may (barely) save the studio from red ink on its share of $225M or more in production/marketing costs, but those overseas distributors aren’t likely to be happy about it:  Allegiant isn’t doing any better outside the US.  In 77 markets (not yet including China), it earned a tepid $22M, for a $53.4M total.  Whether or not it’s Lionsgate, someone is going to be losing money here.  The bigger question, of course, is what happens to Ascendant, the conclusion of the franchise, set for a 2017 opening.  Ascendant has already switched directors, and it remains to be seen whether its budget will be slashed or other changes are in store.

MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN (TriStar/Sony) followed its $3.6M Wed-Thurs with a $15M weekend.  That’s certainly better than other Christian openings this year ($11.8M for Risen, $3.3M for The Young Messiah), but Miracles, with its casting of mainstream actors like Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah, was meant to be a crossover film that could lure audiences beyond the devout.  In that sub-subgenre, the opening was about one-third below the $22.5M for Heaven Is For RealMiracles cost just $13M to produce and had a marketing campaign that was low-key by big studio standards, so it will do fine for Sony without quite being the breakout hit that had been hoped.

Of course, there are disappointments and underperformers, and then there are flat-out box office disasters.  Only its studio knows why THE BRONZE (Sony Pictures Classics) opened at 1167 theatres, a huge number for Sony Classics, but the decision was wildly misguided.  The Bronze, which got some good response at Sundance in 2015 and was then stuck with a bankrupt distributor before Sony Classics took over, opened at an unspeakable $421K, giving it a $361 per-theatre average for the weekend.  That’s the 6th worst average of all time for a movie opening in 1000+ theatres, and the worst ever for a distributor affiliated with a major studio.  The comedy itself is about a former Olympian who has to learn to live with not being a winner, and that’s good advice for all involved.

HOLDOVERS:  ZOOTOPIA (Disney) romped over the carcasses around it at the multiplex, down a tiny 26% from last week to $38M.  It’s now at $201.8M in the US, and there’s still a month before The Jungle Book challenges it for the family audience, giving it a clear path to $300M+.  Things are just as bright and sparkly overseas, where Zootopia is now in 49 territories with plenty of world yet to come (including Great Britain and Japan, the latter often a huge animation market), at $389.9M after a $64.8M weekend.  That includes $173.4M from China, where it has broken the record set just weeks ago by Kung Fu Panda 3 to become the nation’s biggest animated hit ever.  Worldwide, it could get to $900M+.

10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (Paramount) held quite well for a horror thriller, down 49% to $12.5M and a $45.2M total.  It probably won’t reach the first Cloverfield‘s $80M, but it also cost less to produce.  Lane also has $7.2M from a few overseas markets.  Last week’s other openings fared far worse.  THE PERFECT MATCH (Lionsgate), still in only 925 theatres, fell 56% to $1.9M for a $7.3M total; THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY (Columbia/Sony) dropped 57% to $1.4M and a $5.9M total (plus an equally bad $16.7M overseas); and THE YOUNG MESSIAH (FocusUniversal), decimated by Miracles From Heaven, plunged 68% to $1M and a $5.4M total.

The longer-term titles were led by DEADPOOL (20th), now at $340.9M in the US after a 27% dip to $8M, plus $389.7M overseas (which doesn’t include China).  In the US, Deadpool should pull past American Sniper to become the #2 R-rated release ever, behind only The Passion of the Christ‘s $370.8M.  LONDON HAS FALLEN (Millenium/Gramercy/Focus/Universal) has steadied nicely, down 36% to $6.9M for the weekend and a $50.1M US total, still far below the $98M for Olympus Has Fallen, but more respectable.  WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT (Paramount) lost 40% for a $2.8M weekend and $19.3M US total.

THE REVENANT (Regency/20th) is close to done in the US (a $1.2M weekend, down 40%, for a $181.2M total), but it’s just arrived in China, where it’s handled by a local distributor, enabling Regency to hold onto a larger share of box office receipts.  It earned $33.4M over the weekend there, putting its overseas total at $302M.

LIMITED RELEASE:  MIDNIGHT SPECIAL (Warners) started sharply with a $37K per-theatre average at 5 NY/LA/Austin houses.  The elder indie subgenre has become one of the most reliable in the business, and HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS (Roadside) expanded well to 128 theatres with a $7900 average.  EYE IN THE SKY (Bleecker Street) widened to 35 theatres with a solid $12.2K average.  KNIGHT OF CUPS (Broad Green) didn’t do as well, expanding to 68 theatres with a $1600 average.  MARGUERITE (Cohen) had a $2500 average at 13.  MY GOLDEN DAYS (Magnolia) opened mildly with a $9K average at 3, although that was better than the $4200 average at 3 for THE CLAN (Fox Intl).  Despite rave reviews, KRISHA (A24) could only manage a $5100 average at 2.

NEXT WEEKEND:  Rarely in Hollywood history has a single film meant so much to its studio as BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (Warners).  Literally billions of dollars have been committed to the idea that BvS can put DC/Warners toe-to-toe with Marvel/Disney for the worldwide superhero market over the next decade, and the stakes are huge:  a $100M opening weekend would be a catastrophe, merely matching the $116.6M Man of Steel debut would be a failure, and the $132.4M Deadpool start (on roughly 1/3 of the BvS budget) would be a disappointment.  It’s one of the top 15 openings of all time, or it’s a bust.  Playing the counterprogramming card is MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2 (Gold Circle/Universal), which steps into blockbuster footprints of its own, the astonishing $241.4M earned by the first Big Fat, albeit 14 years ago.  A pair of music-related biographies will enter limited release:  I SAW THE LIGHT (Sony Classics) and Born to Be Blue (IFC).



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."