August 17, 2014

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 8/17/14


OPENINGS:  On an unspectacular weekend, LET’S BE COPS (20th) was able to top the new arrivals with $17.7M (and $26.1M since its opening on Wednesday).  It should get to $40M in the US, and with a reported production cost of $18M, the question marks about potential profitability are the cost of its marketing campaign (less than the summer tentpoles, but more than an indie would have spent) and whether it has any significant overseas appeal.

THE EXPENDABLES 3 (Lionsgate) was a dud in the US, dropping 43% from the debut of Expendables 2 to $16.2M, and unlikely to get much past $40M, which will barely pay for its marketing.  The PG-13 level of violence may have turned away some hardcore fans (the much-vaunted illegal downloads were reportedly more of a factor, if anywhere, overseas), but mostly it seems to have been a jokey gimmick that ran its course.  (The somewhat similar Cannonball Run concept, remember, only managed one sequel.)  The overseas release of Expendables 3 is fragmented among several distributors (pre-sales in the various territories are how the producers financed the movie in the first place), and for now we know that in Russia and Spain (where Universal is the distributor), it’s taken in $5.5M, considerably below the pace of Expendables 2.

THE GIVER (Weinstein) didn’t connect with the YA audience it was seeking, and settled for a $12.8M weekend.  It had the lowest costs of any of this weekend’s openings, but that will only serve to minimize the red ink.

Both of the weekend’s national expansions failed.  Woody Allen’s MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT (Sony Classics) had a per-theatre average under $2000 ($1.9M total) in 964 theatres, not even as strong as To Rome With Love, which made $3.1M in 806 theaters and reached $16.7M–Magic probably won’t get higher than $10M.  WHAT IF (CBS) had a disastrous average that was barely over $1000 at 787 theatres for a $829K total.

HOLDOVERS:  TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (Nickelodeon/Paramount) had no trouble taking the US weekend, down a reasonable 57% to $28.4M, with $117.6M to date.  With no serious challengers for the rest of the summer, it should find its way to $165M+.  Overseas, Turtles earned $25.6M this weekend with $67.5M to date.  Its gradual international release will stretch through the fall and all the way to January 2015 in Japan, with a China opening as yet unscheduled.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (Marvel/Disney) continued to show enormous word-of-mouth strength for a blockbuster, down just 41% in its 3d weekend to $24.7M and a $222.3M US total.  That’s the 2d best pace of the year, behind Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which didn’t face summer competition.  Guardians is on track to surpass Transformers:  Age of Extinction as the US summer’s biggest movie, and may move past Captain America as the #1 title of the year.  Overseas, Guardians earned $33.1M for a $196.4M total, and although it’s now in most of the world, there are some very big territories still to open, including Italy, Germany, Japan and especially China.

INTO THE STORM (Warners) dropped 56% to $7.7M and a $31.3M total, unlikely to get above $50M in the US.  Overseas, it’s still in early release, but so far isn’t striking like lightning with $6.7M this weekend and an $18.5M total.  THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY (DreamWorks/Disney) held much better in the US, down 35% to $7.1M and a $23.6M total (at a far lower cost than Storm).  Nevertheless, Journey will be hard-pressed to get past $50M.  STEP UP: ALL IN (Summit/Lionsgate) fell 58% to $2.7M and a puny $11.8M total.

BOYHOOD (IFC) expanded again, increasing its theatre count by about 50% to 771 but only rising 9% as its per-theatre average slipped to $2800.  Its weekend total was $2.2M and it’s earned $13.8M so far, as it quests toward $20M.

LUCY (Universal) was down 44% to $5.3M and a US total of $107.5M, and also earned $13.4M in just 24 territories for $32M so far.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 (DreamWorks Animation/20th) is done in the US ($555K this weekend for a $171.2M total, down $45M from the first Dragon), but it’s the weekend’s new arrival in China, where it opened solidly with $25.9M (its overall international weekend was $37.7M).  Its overseas total is now $364.3M, more than making up for its US shortfall by running $87M ahead of the first Dragon and counting.  However, when China is treated as an industry savior, it’s always worth repeating that studios retain far less of ticket revenue there than anywhere else in the world, about 25% compared to 55% in the US–so those numbers, however big, come with a significant asterisk.

LIMITED RELEASE:  THE TRIP TO ITALY (IFC) had a strong start with a $24K average at 3 theatres.  LIFE AFTER BETH (A24), which is also available on DirecTV, averaged $9K at 2.  CALVARY (Fox Searchlight) expanded to 131 with an OK $3100 average.


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."