March 23, 2014

Behind the Weekend Box Office – 3/23/14


OPENINGS:  DIVERGENT (Summit/Lionsgate) had an unusual trajectory for a YA movie, with a relatively unimpressive start but then much less of a Saturday drop than others in its genre.  The result was a $56M weekend (the number may tick down when adjusted figures are released tomorrow, considering the aggressive estimate of a 31% Sunday slide), which doesn’t live up to the initial hopes that Divergent could match the original Twilight‘s $69M, but notches it as a success.  The next hurdle will be international release, which won’t begin in earnest for another 2 weeks.

There’s nothing good to be said about the $16.5M start for MUPPETS MOST WANTED (Disney), which generated little interest on opening day and rose only 53% (low for a children’s movie) on Saturday.  Disney paid a lot of money to buy the Muppets brand, so it’s understandable that the studio wanted to believe the (moderate) success of The Muppets wasn’t a fluke, but with due respect to Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey and Ty Burrell, none of them were going to bring in either a young or older ticketbuying audience.  No doubt a reboot will follow soon enough.

GOD’S NOT DEAD (Freestyle) is the weekend’s sleeper, although at this point we probably shouldn’t be surprised when a Christian-themed film pops.  $8.6M at 780 theatres is better than Fireproof ($6.8M at 839), with a strong $11K per-theatre average, and the major studios are now nosing after the same audience–not so much with next week’s Noah, which needs to be an all-quadrant hit to pay off its enormous costs, but with the upcoming Heaven Is For Real, hailing from that specialty distributor 20th Century Fox.

Thinking of NOAH (Paramount), it doesn’t arrive in the US until next week, but it’s already doing gangbuster business overseas, with a remarkable $14M in just Mexico and South Korea for the weekend.  If that’s an indication of its international appeal, the studio should have little to worry about, no matter what happens here.  RIO 2 (20th) is also off to a big overseas start with $10.4M in Russia and the Ukraine, where apparently people are still going to the movies.

HOLDOVERS:  MR. PEABODY AND SHERMAN (DreamWorks Animation/20th) topped a grim lot, down 46% to $11.7M.  It may not get far beyond $100M in the US, and so far it’s only running about 20% ahead of that overseas (it’s now playing almost everywhere around the world) after a $11.7M weekend, a result that isn’t going to pay for its $275M (including worldwide marketing) costs.  300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE (Warners/Legendary) cost about the same, and is only doing marginally better in the US–down 55% to $8.7M, it might reach $110M here–but its international total ($21M this weekend) is double what it’s making here, and that will put it into profit.  (And some third iteration of the franchise may well be coming, even though every 300 movie kills off most of its characters.)  NON-STOP (Universal) continues to hold very solidly, down 40% to $6.3M and headed for $90M in the US.

Last week’s openings didn’t fare well.  NEED FOR SPEED (DreamWorks/Disney) dropped 56% to $7.8M, on its way to no more than $50M here, but it’s being rescued by overseas success ($29.2M this weekend), which is so far more than triple what it’s doing in the US (a big chunk of that comes from China, where Speed has taken off).  THE SINGLE MOMS CLUB (Lionsgate) toppled 62% to $3.1M and probably won’t reach $20M, with no prospects overseas.  VERONICA MARS (Warners) utterly collapsed, down 75% to $490K and struggling to reach $4M.

3 long-running hits are starting to fade.  THE LEGO MOVIE (Warners) was down 47% to $4.1M, and will get to $250M in the US before it’s done (it has $147.6M overseas, but distribution is still in progress).  RIDE ALONG (Universal) fell 56% to $600K, with $133M in the bank.  And after 4 months, now on homevideo, FROZEN (Disney) finally fell out of the top 10, down 66% to $730K, but still edging to hit $400M in the US (it has $2.3M to go) and the all-time worldwide animated record of $1.064B ($15M to go).

LIMITED RELEASE:  THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (Fox Searchlight) didn’t lose any momentum with its expansion to 304 theatres, boasting a brilliant $22K per-theatre average.  It’s already made $13M in the US and $46.1M worldwide (it’s Wes Anderson’s biggest international hit), with nothing but clear sky ahead.  BAD WORDS (Focus/Universal) expanded to 87 theatres with an OK $5700 average.  THE LUNCHBOX (Sony Classics), doubling its run to 36 theatres, is averaging $5300, and TIM’S VERMEER (Sony Classics), expanded to 129, is averaging $1300.  Other expansions:  ON MY WAY (Cohen Media) with a $2800 average at 20, LE WEEK-END (Music Box), a $5600 average at 25, and THE FACE OF LOVE (IFC), a $1400 average at 22. JODOROWSKY’S DUNE (Sony Classics) started with a $12K average at 3, and after 2 weeks of VOD release, Lars Von Trier’s NYMPHOMANIAC: VOLUME 1 (Magnolia) opened in theatres with a $7K average at 24.


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."