August 3, 2014

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 8/3/14


OPENINGS:  The world, if not the galaxy, belonged to GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (Marvel/Disney) this weekend.  In the US, its $94M start (as is typical, Disney estimated an aggressively strong Sunday, down just 19% from Saturday, so that number may reduce a bit tomorrow) pulverized the previous August record-holder (The Bourne Ultimatum) to the tune of $25M.  If Guardians holds at its estimate, it will have the #2 opening of the year, behind only Transformers: Age of Extinction (a somewhat dubious $100M) and Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($95M), and will have all of August without any heavy competition in its way.  Overseas, the new Marvel phenomenon took in $66.4M in territories covering half the world (but notably not China).  Guardians seems to be in very good shape to reach $600M+ worldwide, and could go considerably higher.  Marvel has triumphed in the face of what was considered its big 2014 risk–but next summer brings the troubled Ant Man, which has already endured a very public change of directors and looks to be the company’s biggest challenge yet .

No one at the studio will be heard shouting “I feel good!” after the opening of GET ON UP (Universal), which opened low at $14M.  The good news is that its older-skewing audience may show up in Week 2; the bad is that The Help and The Butler suggest that it will be lucky to make half as much overseas as it does in the US, and although its moderate budget will limit the exposure, the movie may still have a hard time getting out of red ink.

A MOST WANTED MAN (Lionsgate/Roadside) expanded to a nationally-wide 729 theatres this weekend, and although it doubled its theatre count, its weekend gross rose just 24%.  It’s holding its own at $3.3M (a $4600 per-theatre average, lower than Get On Up despite being in less than one-third as many theatres), but seems unlikely to become a breakout success.

HOLDOVERS:  LUCY (Universal) was probably going to face a big Weekend 2 drop in any case, but the arrival of Guardians certainly didn’t help, as the thriller fell 58% to $18.3M.  It should reach $115M in the US, and it’s just started its overseas run with $5M in a few markets.  HERCULES (Paramount/MGM) is in worse shape, down 64% in the US to $10.7M and unlikely to top $75M, and doing merely OK overseas with $14.2M in 35 territories.  The Brett Ratner/Dwayne Johnson vehicle is at $56.5M internationally, and that just isn’t going to add up to enough to pay for its $250M+ production and marketing costs.  AND SO IT GOES (Clarius), with its extremely aged appeal, held beautifully in its 2d weekend, down just 28%–but it started so low that it earned a mere $3.3M, and may only reach $20M.

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (20th) fell another 48% in the US to $8.7M, with $189.3M so far and $210M as its probable target.  Overseas, Dawn was much more powerful with a $47.5M weekend, and $258.2M so far (compared to $305M for Rise of the Planet of the Apes), and with such major markets as China, Japan and Germany still to come.  PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE (Disney) is holding well, down just 33% to $6.4M in the US, but its total is a low $47.6M, and it won’t get near the $90M of the first Planes.  Overseas, Fire & Rescue added $3.5M in 30 territories for $30M–there’s still plenty of the world to open, but it’s going to have a difficult time reaching the $129.5M international total of Planes.  THE PURGE: ANARCHY (Universal) fell 47% to $5.6M, and at $63M it’s just inches away from the $64.5M of the first Purge.  Anarchy earned $8.1M overseas in 35 territories ($19.3M to date).  SEX TAPE (Columbia/Sony) dropped 41% to $3.6M in the US for a $33.9M total, while overseas it had $4.2M in 26 territories ($17.8M total).

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (Paramount) is all but done in the US, down 53% to $2.2M and the year’s #1 movie at $241.2M.  That’s dwarfed, however, by its overseas appeal, where it grossed another $19.1M this weekend for a $763.8M total–which gives it $1.05B worldwide, without having opened yet in Japan or Spain.  Transformers 3 made over $65M in those territories alone, so the new installment could yet beat the last’s current franchise record of $1.124B worldwide.

LIMITED RELEASE:  CALVARY (Fox Searchlight) started with an OK $18K average at 4 NY/LA theatres.  That’s about the same opening as The Guard, which featured the same star and director and reached $5.4M in the US–but The Guard was a much more audience-friendly piece of work than Calvary.  Even with several sold-out personal appearances by hyphenate director James Franco, CHILD OF GOD (Well Go USA) averaged $3600 at 10 theatres.  BOYHOOD (IFC) is facing the limits of its wide appeal, almost tripling its theatre count this weekend to 304 but rising just 43%.  It’s far from done with a very fair $8100 average and $7.6M earned so far–but may not profitably expand much farther.  Also expanding this weekend was MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT (Sony Classics), now at 65 theatres with a $12K average.  That’s far from Blue Jasmine territory ($37K average at 50), but compares with To Rome With Love ($24K average at 29), and that reached $16.7M in the US.  I ORIGINS (Fox Searchlight), which was already flopping, expanded disastrously to 122 theatres with an average that didn’t reach $600.



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."