October 26, 2014

Behind the Weekend US/Worldwide Box Office – 10/26/14


OPENINGS:  Cheap PG-13 horror movies are the assembly-line workers of the studios, rarely resulting in showy profits, but paying the bills between blockbusters.  OUIJA (Universal) and its $20.006M opening (we’ll see how that holds up in final numbers tomorrow) is a prime example, likely to make its way to profit thanks to a $5M production budget–although since it had major-studio marketing behind it, the path won’t be quite as easy as it may look.  (Ouija also started its overseas release in 5 territories with $1.3M.)

JOHN WICK (Lionsgate) did better than some expected, but that’s because the prospect of an action movie starring Keanu Reeves led some to expect nothing at all, especially after the $200M-budgeted 47 Ronin opened with under $10M.  John Wick did better, mustering $14.2M on a much lower budget, but that’s till not a road to success.  The likelihood that John Wick will do better overseas won’t help Lionsgate, which acquired domestic rights for a limited price, and breakeven is probably its fate.

ST VINCENT (Weinstein) didn’t get the reviews it wanted, and there’s very little groundswell for a Bill Murray Best Actor nomination in an exceptionally crowded year for major male performances.  It quickly widened beyond its platform opening to 2282 theatres with a mediocre $8.1M, and will need all Harvey Weinstein’s marketing nimbleness not to vanish in the next few weeks.

23 BLAST (OAE), aimed at religious audiences, hardly made a ripple with $400K in 617 theatres.

HOLDOVERS:  FURY (QED/Columbia/Sony) held solidly, down 45% to $13M.  It’s earned $46M so far, and may eventually make its way to $75M in the US.  With a $70M production cost and a major marketing campaign, though, that’s not going to get it very far, so its future will depend on its international success.  At this point, it’s only in 15 overseas territories, where it earned $11.2M, leaving it with a long way to go.

GONE GIRL (20th) continues to be the movie of the fall, down just 37% in its 4th weekend to $11.1M, which puts it at $124.1M and a fair chance of reaching $150M if it can withstand the arrival of Interstellar in 10 days.  Overseas, Gone Girl brought in $18.4M, for a $118.3M total so far.  It will get over $300M worldwide, and its target is to beat $333.9M, which would pull it past The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, currently David FIncher’s biggest worldwide hit.

For a family movie, the 42% drop for THE BOOK OF LIFE (20th) to $9.8M was only moderately impressive (The Boxtrolls, no great hit, fell just 31% in its 2d weekend).  It’s at $29.9M, and unlikely to get much beyond $50M in the US.  In addition, it earned $7.8M overseas, still in only scattered territories. ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY (Disney) is holding better, down 39% in its 3rd weekend to $7M, with $45M earned so far.  It also took in $2.5M from a few overseas territories.

THE BEST OF ME (Relativity) collapsed by 53% to $4.7M, and it’ll end up with a lackluster $25M.  THE JUDGE (Warners) was down 45% to $4.3M, heading for $40-45M in the US.  It also brought in $6.9M in 47 overseas markets for a $19M total.

Two horror movies on the decline in the US are still doing well overseas.  ANNABELLE (Warners) fell 58% to $3.3M with the arrival of Ouija, on its way to a $85M US total.  Internationally, it earned $26.5M in 62 territories, giving it $126.7M so far and with plenty more to come on a relatively tiny investment.  DRACULA UNTOLD (Legendary/Universal–a much more expensive piece of work than Annabelle–dropped 57% to $4.3M in the US for a likely $55-60M eventual total, while overseas it sucked in $14.7M in 59 territories for a $117.7M total.

THE EQUALIZER (Columbia/Sony) and THE MAZE RUNNER (20th) continue to illustrate the importance of foreign appeal.  Equalizer  is at $93.8M in the US after dropping 48% to $2.8M, but has only $77.7M overseas after a $5.7M weekend in 74 markets. Maze Runner is at a very similar $94M here after a 49% drop to $2.2M, but overseas it’s at $179.2M after a $12.6M weekend, and with China/Japan still to come.

With $500K in the US and $10M overseas from China and Italy, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (Marvel/Disney) is now at $752.6M worldwide, just $4.7M below Maleficent and poised to become the year’s #2 global hit behind Transformers: Age of Extinction.  That distinction probably won’t last long with the latest Hobbit and Hunger Games on the way, not to mention possibly Interstellar and Big Hero 6, but it’s still a nice milestone.

LIMITED RELEASE:  BIRDMAN (Fox Searchlight) expanded to 50 theatres with a $29K per-theatre average, below the $37K for Blue Jasmine when it hit the same number of theatres, and comparable to the $34K average Boyhood had at 34 theatres.  It’s a fine but not exciting result, suggesting that Searchlight will have to stoke the fire to keep Birdman hot until critical awards season arrives in about 5 weeks.  DEAR WHITE PEOPLE (RSA) jumped to 384 theatres in its 2d weekend from 11 last week, and its per-theatre average crashed to $3400.  That was still enough for a $1.3M weekend, though, a very good result for a micro-budgeted effort with no stars to promote. WHIPLASH (Sony Classics) more than doubled its theatres to 46 and had an OK $5800 average.  The top newcomer was the critically lauded documentary CITIZENFOUR (Radius/Weinstein), with a $25K average at 5.  LAGGIES (A24) opened fairly well with a $16K average at 5.  Some of the shine came off THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA (GK), which expanded to 20 theatres with a $3200 average.

NEXT WEEKEND:  Because Halloween is on a Friday this year (and because Interstellar opens just days later, with Big Hero 6 right behind it), the studios are shunning the weekend.  The only wide openings are the startling Jake Gyllenhaal filim NIGHTCRAWLER (Open Road) and the very routine Nicole Kidman/Colin Firth thriller BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP (Clarius).

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."