August 24, 2014

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 8/24/14


OPENINGS:  IF I STAY (Warners/MGM) was the best of a weak trio, opening with $16.4M and with an 18% drop on Saturday that indicated moderate front-loading.  It should reach a fair $40-50M US total, which could get it to breakeven if not profit.

WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL (Affirm/TriStar/Sony), with a $9M weekend, was in the same vicinity as the $9.2M start for God’s Not Dead, but that was in just 780 theatres, less than 1/3 of Game‘s 2673 total. Game was also hoping to attract some non-religious fans due to its football theme, but that didn’t appear to happen.  Game had modest production and marketing costs, and while it won’t create much of a ripple, it shows the continuing box office presence of the fundamentalist audience.

There’s not much to be said about the utter failure of SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR (Dimension/Weinstein) that hasn’t been said over the past 2 days.  Its $6.5M weekend is an incredible 22% of the $29.1M start for the original Sin City–and this one benefited not just from 9 years of ticket price increases, but also premium-priced 3D tickets.  Somewhat hilariously, the studio may have exaggerated its Sunday estimate to get the number slightly higher (it’s claiming a 20% Sunday drop, compared to 30%/33% for If I Stay and When the Game Stands Tall), as though at this point the specific number mattered at all.  The movie is being released by a multitude of local distributors overseas, so its international numbers will trickle in, but it appears to have opened well in Russia.

HOLDOVERS:  GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (Marvel/Disney) celebrated becoming the #1 movie of the summer (in the US) by leaping back into the top spot for the weekend, down a superb 30% from last week to $17.6M.  It’s currently at $251.9M, and will pass Captain America: The Winter Soldier‘s $259.8M by this time next week to become the #1 movie of the year in this market.  Overseas, Guardians still has openings in Japan, Germany, Italy and especially China to come, and is at $237.6M after a $20.7M weekend. It’s at a worldwide $489.5M, and should top $600M before it’s done.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (Nickelodeon/Paramount) had a solid hold, down 41% to $16.8M and $145.6M to date.  Overseas, it added $15.5M for $93.2M, with half the world (including China and Japan) yet to open.  LET’S BE COPS (20th) also held well, down 38% to $11M and a $45.2M total.  The news was less good for last week’s other openings, as THE GIVER (Weinstein) fell 45% to $6.7M ($24.1M to date), and THE EXPENDABLES 3 (Lionsgate) plunged 58% to $6.6M ($27.5M total).  The latter movie is, like Sin City 2, heavily pre-sold to foreign distributors, but isn’t creating much of a stir overseas so far.  THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY (DreamWorks/Disney) is thriving with its older audience, down a mere 23% to $5.6M ($32.8M to date).

LUCY (Universal) is trailing off in the US, down 36% to $3.5M ($113.8M total), but still in its prime overseas, where it earned $34M for a $103M total, and still has much of the world yet to open.  HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 (DreamWorks Animation/20th) is almost done in the US, down 12% to $510K ($172.1M total), but is still thriving internationally, where it took in $18.2M for a $400.7M total.  It’s now at $572.8M worldwide, and should end up 20-25% ahead of the first Dragon–although it also cost a lot more than the first installment, so the profit may not be much higher.  Still, it’s a critically-needed win for DreamWorks Animation.

It was a very good weekend for a couple of indies in semi-wide release.  BOYHOOD (IFC) showed terrific traction, losing about 5% of its theatres but dropping just 6% from last weekend to $1.9M.  With $16.5M so far, $20M now looks like a sure thing as we head into festival and awards season.  MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT (Sony Classics) lost 18% of its theatres and almost kept pace, falling 25% to $1.3M and a $6.8M total.  It should reach $10M, which isn’t anywhere near Woody Allen’s bigger recent hits, but keeps it out of flop territory.

LIMITED RELEASE:  LOVE IS STRANGE (Sony Classics) had a solid $25K weekend average at 5 NY/LA theatres.  THE ONE I LOVE (Radius/Weinstein) averaged a meh $6K at 9, but the studio unusually also announced that the film has already taken in $500K on VOD, which makes the total picture a lot brighter.  (The same studio’s SNOWPIERCER, which has made $4.4M in theaters, has reportedly also earned $6M from VOD.)  CALVARY (Fox Searchlight) widened to 240 theatres with an OK $2250 average.  LAND HO (Sony Classics) expanded to 51 theatres with a tepid $1700 average.  THE TRIP TO ITALY (IFC), which is also on VOD, had an $11K average at 10.  The unkillable CHEF (Open Road), now at 105 theatres, fell only 10% from last weekend and $30M is within its grasp.

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."