February 8, 2015

UPDATED: Behind the Weekend US/Worldwide Box Office – 2/8/15


Note:  due to last week’s low-grossing Super Bowl Sunday, all weekend-to-weekend comparisons appear unusually strong this week.

OPENINGS:  THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE:  SPONGE OUT OF WATER (Nickelodeon/Paramount) notched the #5 February opening ever with $56M (although not quite in a league with last year’s The LEGO Movie, which was #2 with $69.1M).  The studios seem just to have figured out (after 2014-15, you have to go all the way down to Gnomeo & Juliet and its $25.4M opening in 2011), that February is a fine time to open an animated family movie, since the wave of holiday attractions for kids has run out of steam after 6+ weeks, and parents need fresh entertainment for their weekends.  SpongeBob should top $150M at the US box office, making for easy profit on production/marketing costs of $200M or so, and a far shorter lapse between movies in the franchise than the 11 years that passed after the first installment (which opened to $32M in November 2004).  Update:  in 25 overseas territories, SPONGEBOB added another $25.6M to its coffers. 

JUPITER ASCENDING (Warners/Village Roadshow) didn’t have the same fortune, stumbling to a reported $19M US opening–and since Warners is claiming the strongest Sunday hold in the Top 10, that may well come down tomorrow.  Jupiter will be lucky to reach $60M in the US  on production/marketing costs that will probably top $300M worldwide, requiring gigantic foreign appeal to have any hope of approaching breakeven.  Update:  overseas, JUPITER opened nearly worldwide in 65 markets (all major territories except China, Japan and Australia) and was no more than OK at $32.5M.  That number is likely to look healthier once China is included, but it’s worth remembering that China allows studios to keep a smaller proportion of overall box office than any other nation, so the amount earned there will be somewhat misleading. 

SEVENTH SON (Legendary/Universal) has already had the bulk of its international release, and its $83.6M foreign total won’t help it much after a disastrous $7.1M US opening.  It’s already been written down by Legendary to the tune of $85M, and that may not be enough, considering its production/marketing costs are likely over $200M.  This is Legendary’s 2d expensive flop in 6 weeks, following Blackhat‘s pathetic $16.6M worldwide total, and although Legendary and not Universal is on the hook for most of the costs, Warners (which had been Legendary’s partner until recently) must be feeling fairly good about dodging both of these bullets.

HOLDOVERS:  AMERICAN SNIPER (Warners/Village Roadshow) ceded its #1 slot for the weekend, but slipped only 21% to $24.2M.  The blockbuster is now at $282.3M in the US (plus $68.3M overseas), and it has a real chance of moving past Mockingjay‘s $335.7M US total to become the highest-grossing release of 2014 (even though its 2014 tenure consisted of a single week at 3 theatres).

Last weekend’s openings didn’t show much traction.  PROJECT ALMANAC (MTV/Paramount) fell 36% to $5.3M, which would be a good hold on an ordinary weekend, but not post-Super Bowl.  It should wind up around $25M in the US, probably not enough to hit profit even on moderate costs.  BLACK OR WHITE (Relativity) was down 27% to $4.5M, and may also find its way to a disappointing $25M.  (Since Kevin Costner’s purported comeback with TV’s Hatfields & McCoys in 2012, none of his star vehicles have pulled in more than $30.7M in the US, although buzz is good on his upcoming McFarland, USA.)  THE LOFT (Open Road) was uninhabitable, down 46% to $1.5M, and unlikely to reach $10M.

PADDINGTON (Weinstein) led the non-Sniper longer runs, down 35% to $5.4M, and now with a $57.3M US total to add to its $150.9M overseas.  THE WEDDING RINGER (Screen Gems/Sony) slipped just 16% to $4.8M.  It’s at $55.1M in the US, and should have at least $10M more in the tank.  THE BOY NEXT DOOR (Blumhouse/Universal) fell 33% to $4.1M, with $30.9M so far.

Apart from Sniper, the Oscar contenders were led by THE IMITATION GAME (Weinstein), barely down 3% (despite losing 20% of its theatres) with a $4.9M weekend and $74.7M in the US so far, plus $64.7M overseas.  It doesn’t appear as though Imitation is an Oscar front-runner, but it’s nevertheless performing like one for its studio.  SELMA (Paramount) lost 33% to $1.7M, giving it a $46.5M total.  Current front-runner BIRDMAN (Fox Searchlight) shed 9% to $1.4M and a $35.2M total.  WHIPLASH (Sony Classics) increased its theatre count by 10% and rose 7% to $772K, now nearing a $10M US total.

LIMITED RELEASE:  There were no notable arrivals this weekend.  STILL ALICE (Sony Classics) widened by more than 50% to 135 theatres with a $6500 average.  MR TURNER (Sony Classics) similarly widened, in its case to 79 theatres for a $3100 average.  2 DAYS, 1 NIGHT (IFC) increased its count by two-thirds to 109 theatres and had a $2K average.  LEVIATHAN (Sony Classics) doubled to 24 theatres with a $3300 average.  TIMBUKTU (Cohen Media) tripled to 14 theatres with a $5700 average.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The Presidents Day holiday weekend is greeted by a pair of movies aimed at distinctly different audiences:  the much-anticipated (for good or bad) 50 SHADES OF GREY (Focus/Universal) for the female demo, and action-adventure KINGSMEN:  THE SECRET SERVICE (20th) for older (R-rated) boys.  The lovely musical THE LAST FIVE YEARS (Weinstein) enters limited release, as does the film festival vampire picture WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (Paladin).  

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."