April 6, 2014

Behind the Weekend Box Office – 4/6/14


Marvel brings summer ticket sales to April.

OPENINGS:  The record-breaking $96.2M US opening weekend for CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (Disney), the highest ever in April (it may come down $1M or so tomorrow thanks to an aggressive studio prediction for Sunday, but it would still be far ahead of the previous record, $86.2M for Fast Five) was accompanied by a $107.1M weekend in 50 overseas markets.  Since Winter Soldier had opened in several territories last week, that gives it a $207.1M international total, and $303.3M worldwide.  (The biggest overseas territory, no surprise, is China, where Winter Soldier opened with a $39.2M weekend.)  Incredibly, that international number is already bigger than the entire overseas run of Captain America: The First Avenger ($193.9M), and Winter Soldier should beat First Avenger‘s $370.6M global total by next week, with a $600M+ ultimate result very possible.  Nothing lasts forever, but at this point Marvel is in the rare position of not even having to worry about hitting profit, despite costs (including worldwide marketing) of $300M+–just about how much there’ll be.  (And that doesn’t even count the franchises it doesn’t completely own itself, like the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man 2 from Sony and the new X-Men from 20th.)

HOLDOVERS:  NOAH (Paramount/Regency) knew it would be facing stiff 2d weekend competition, and it took a heavy 61% hit to $17M in the US, where it now looks to end up with a bit more than $100M.  The news was much better overseas, where Noah had a $45.6M weekend in 45 territories ($106.2M so far).  Noah should reach $300M+ worldwide, which merits a sigh of relief for such an expensive, risky project, but won’t really be a bonanza in comparison to its $275M+ total costs.

DIVERGENT (Summit/Lionsgate) also felt Captain America‘s pinch, down 49% to $13M and heading toward $140M in the US.  That’s nowhere near the Twilight/Hunger Games neighborhood, but it’s still very solid.  However, international is looking more problematic, with just $11.1M this weekend in 44 territories ($22.4M so far).  A worldwide total of $200M or so would be a major disappointment that would barely hit breakeven, although it won’t stop the franchise from going forward, since the rule of thumb is that sequels do considerably better overseas than the first entry in a franchise does in establishing the brand.

Last weekend’s other openings, SABOTAGE (Open Road) and CESAR CHAVEZ (Lionsgate/Pantelion) were non-factors, respectively dropping 64% to $1.9M and 66% to $975K.

It was another weekend of expansion for GOD’S NOT DEAD (Freestyle), THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (Fox Searchlight) and BAD WORDS (Focus/Universal)God’s Not Dead, widened by roughly 50% to 1758 theatres, slipped 12% to $7.7M (although its per-theatre average was down 40%) and should reach at least $50M.  Grand Budapest, expanded by 30% to 1263 theatres, fell 26% to $6.3M (per-theatre was down about 43%), but also has a terrific $54.3M overseas, and will easily top $100M worldwide .  Bad Words, at 20% more theatres with 1074, dropped 37% to $1.7M (per-theatre down 50%).

MUPPETS MOST WANTED (Disney) won the weekend family film battle, down 44% to $6.3M, but it’s still trailing badly, unlikely to get much past $55M in the US.  MR. SHERMAN AND PEABODY (DreamWorks Animation/20th), down 42% to $5.3M in its 5th weekend, has gone past $100M in the US and still has some gas in its tank, but its $136.5M overseas total is a significant underperformance in the big-budget animation field, and with $300M in worldwide production/marketing costs, it will struggle to break even. (Luckily for DreamWorks animation, its next release is the presumed sure-thing sequel to How To Train Your Dragon.)

LIMITED RELEASE:  UNDER THE SKIN (A24) rode Scarlett Johansson’s Captain America star power to a very solid opening, averaging $35K at 4 NY/LA theatres.  The virtually abstract film will be challenged next weekend, though, when it widens to 20 more cities.  DOM HEMINGWAY (Fox Searchlight) showed very little promise with an $8K average at 4 theatres in NY/LA.  THE LUNCHBOX (Sony Classics) and LE WEEK-END (Music Box) both expanded to 103 theatres with similar results, averages of $3300 and $2900 respectively.  THE RAID 2 (Sony Classics) showed the limits of its fanbase, expanding to 26 theatres with a $5500 average (compared to a $24K average in 7 last weekend).  Also expanding:  the documentary FINDING VIVIAN MAIER (IFC) with a $7K average at 14, and JODOROWSKY’S DUNE (Sony Classics), with a $3200 average at 16.

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."