March 19, 2016

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “Allegiant” Falls Off the Wall, “Zootopia” Wins Again


The failure of ALLEGIANT (Summit/Lionsgate) puts its studio in an unusually awkward position.  Even though Lionsgate may be able to put the 3rd Divergent movie on its books as a profit (most of the international rights were pre-sold, providing revenues that can off-set the oncoming US losses), the economics are going to get much uglier for the franchise conclusion Lionsgate is more or less obligated to make, 2017’s Ascendant, for which those off-shore distributors are likely to kick in much less.  As for Allegiant, preliminary numbers at Deadline have opening day at around $12M (including $2.4M from Thursday night screenings), down about 45% from Insurgent‘s $21.2M.  Since Allegiant is a terrible movie (opening night polling had it down 2 grades from Insurgent‘s results), word of mouth won’t be good, and the weekend is on track for an appalling $29M, compared to $52.3M for Insurgent.  With Batman v Superman just a week away, the hold is likely to be particularly bad, and Allegiant may end up with only $75-80M at the US box office, on worldwide production/marketing costs around $225M.  The overseas results may be marginally higher (Insurgent made 56% of its worldwide total overseas), but not enough to erase the red ink, although as noted Lionsgate will be protected–this time–by pre-negotiated guarantees.  Ascendant, though, will be more problematic, an object lesson in the perils of force-feeding the public a 4-episode franchise for a property that only ever had medium appeal.

Allegiant‘s stumble left the path wide open for ZOOTOPIA (Disney) to take its 3rd consecutive weekend.  Audiences (rightly) love the movie, and Friday business was down a tiny 20% from last week to $9.5M, which should mean a $40M weekend, putting it over $200M by Sunday.  That would be 25% ahead of the pace of the previous March animation champ The Lorax, suggesting a total that could reach $275M or even $300M in the US.

The only other wide opening of the weekend was the Christian-themed MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN (TriStar/Sony), which opened on Wednesday and took in $3.6M before the weekend started.  It’s headed for a $4M Friday and $12M weekend, roughly half the pace of Heaven Is For Real, which with its mainstream casting of Jennifer Garner in the lead was clearly the title Sony was hoping to emulate.  Real had $7M from its Wed-Thurs opening (which was Easter week rather than a week earlier), and $7.9M on Friday.  That puts Miracles on pace for a $45-50M US total (the genre does little business overseas), quite successful for a film with a $13M production budget and relatively targeted marketing, but not the breakout hit the studio was hoping to have.

10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (Bad Robot/Paramount) held very well for a horror thriller, down 55% from last Friday to $4M, with a $14M weekend ahead.  By comparison, the first Cloverfield had a 76% Friday-to-Friday drop.  Lane could get as high as $75M in the US, although it has high marketing costs to earn back despite its low production budget.

Last week’s other openings had no staying power.  THE PERFECT MATCH (Lionsgate) fell over 60% from last Friday to $600K (at 925 theatres), for a $2M weekend, and probably won’t reach a $15M US total.  THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY (Columbia/Sony) plunged by two-thirds to $400K and a $1.3M weekend, unlikely to see $10M.  And the arrival of Miracles From Heaven doomed THE YOUNG MESSIAH (Focus/Universal), down a hellish 80% to $300K for a weekend that may not get to $1M.

DEADPOOL (20th) is still an audience favorite, down just 27% from last Friday to $2.2M.  It should have a $8M weekend, which would put it above $340M, with another $20M or so in its sights.

The major limited release of the weekend was MIDNIGHT SPECIAL (Warners), on its way to a solid $40K weekend per-theatre average in 5 theatres (in NY, LA and somewhat unusually Austin, TX).  HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS (Roadside) expanded to 128 theatres for an OK $6K per-theatre weekend average.  EYE IN THE SKY (Bleecker Street) widened to 35 for a fair $10K weekend 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."