March 16, 2014

Behind the Weekend Box Office – 3/16/14


As Hollywood becomes more and more dependent on action and animation franchises, the US market becomes increasingly less relevant.

OPENINGS:  NEED FOR SPEED (DreamWorks/Disney) made more money in China ($21.2M) on its opening weekend than it did in the US ($17.8M).  Combined with $24.4M from 39 other territories around the world, Need is likely to be a mildly successful venture despite its abject failure here, with a worldwide weekend of $63.4M that could mean $200M+ before it’s done.  (France and Germany are among the territories still to open.)  This is why each major studio releases just a couple of Oscar hopefuls each fall and otherwise concentrates on material that can sell tickets in any language, to any culture.

Unfortunately for Tyler Perry, his movies have no foreign market to speak of, which means SINGLE MOMS CLUB (Lionsgate) isn’t going to be bailed out overseas from its disastrous $8.3M start  Even though it opened in 2000 fewer theatres than Need For Speed (and Speed was a disappointment itself) its per-theatre average was $1000 lower.  With Perry on the hunt for a new studio deal or financing arrangement, his next steps will be interesting to watch.  By the way:  the failure of Single Moms in theatres doesn’t mean it won’t be profitable in the long run:  OWN has already ordered a series version to go with its hit The Haves and the Have Nots.

The theatrical run of VERONICA MARS (Warners) in just 291 theatres was a combination marketing gimmick for the VOD release and gift to the fans who wanted to see it on a big screen.  They all rushed out on Friday, which meant a terrible 39% Saturday drop and a $2M weekend.  Warners says it’ll disclose some information about the VOD release  on Wednesday, and until then it’s impossible to tell how successful the movie has been in the big picture.

HOLDOVERS:  With no strength from the newcomers, MR. PEABODY AND SHERMAN (DreamWorks Animation/20th) took the weekend crown with $21.2M, down 34% from last week.  Studios live and die by international results, though, and overseas Peabody made only $15.3M this weekend for $148.8M worldwide.  The $275M movie (including worldwide marketing costs) will struggle to avoid red ink, seeming to be headed for around $250M globally.

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE (Warners/Legendary) is another story of international success being more important than US.  Empire fell 58% to $19.1M here (current total $78.3M), but overseas it took in $41.3M (current total $158M), which should ultimately bring it to $350M worldwide.  That would be far below the original 300‘s $456M, but still enough for profit on the sequel’s $250M (all-in) cost.

THE LEGO MOVIE (Warners) held well, down 29% to $7.7M, but it’s US-centric, with $236.9M here and (after a $4.7M weekend in 52 territories covering most of the world) a mere $141.5M overseas.  FROZEN (Disney), on the other hand, although it’s in the last legs of its run with $2.1M in the US (down 28%) and $396.4M total, has made 60% of its worldwide gross overseas and is now at $1.027B, looking for that last $40M to pull it past Toy Story 3 as the most successful animated movie ever (its last major territory, Japan, opened this weekend with $9.4M)

NON-STOP (Universal), RIDE ALONG (Universal) and THE MONUMENTS MEN (Sony/20th) are all holding well, down respectively 33% to $10.6M, down 35% to $2M, and down 31% to $1.4M.  SON OF GOD (20th), though, dropped 49% to $5.4M.

LIMITED RELEASE:  Wes Anderson’s THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (Fox Searchlight) is so far having a dream release, with an expansion this weekend to 66 theatres and a spectacular $55K average.  That’s better than the average for Moonrise Kingdom when it was at only 16 theatres, and puts it among the highest per-theatre numbers post-initial expansion in memory.  Even more impressively, Grand Budapest already has $20M in just 13 overseas markets, while Moonrise made $22.8M in its entire international run.  Jason Bateman’s BAD WORDS (Focus/Universal) had a solid $20K average at 6, but that may be misleading, because it included Q&As with Bateman at several shows.  TIM’S VERMEER (Sony Classics) expanded to 109 theatres with a $2K average.  THE LUNCHBOX (Sony Classics) went to 18 theatres with a $5400 average, PARTICLE FEVER (Abramorama) to 14 with a $6400 average, and THE FACE OF LOVE (IFC) to 21 with a $2700 average.  LE WEEK-END (Music Box) debuted at 3 with a $15K 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."