August 23, 2014

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “If I Stay” Leads Weak Friday; “Guardians” Likely to Retake Weekend


At the beginning of the month, the success of Guardians of the Galaxy and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was prompting some to excitedly conclude that the box office year was now truly 52 weeks long.  But the second half of August remains a lousy time to launch a movie, a fact that’s being borne out by this weekend’s tepid ticket sales.  (Of course, the quality of the movies on view isn’t helping any.)

According to preliminary numbers at Deadline, IF I STAY (Warners/MGM) carried Friday with around $6.5M.  Its teen girl audience is likely to be front-loaded, however, giving it a probable $16M weekend.  That’s an OK result for a relatively low-budget studio release with a targeted marketing campaign, but it’s certainly not in a league with the $48M launch of The Fault in Our Stars last June.

It’s also unlikely to be enough to sustain a weekend win against GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (Marvel/Disney), which earned around $4.8M on Friday (down 30% from last Friday), but should reach $17.5M for the weekend, putting it back in first place after 2 weekends in the 2d spot, and also ahead of Transformers: Age of Extinction as the #1 movie of the summer (in the US–overseas, Transformers 4 will be continue to be the dominant summer winner).  If I Stay may also fall behind TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (Nickelodeon/Paramount), with about 4.5M on Friday (down 45%) and a $15.5-16M weekend.  LET’S BE COPS (20th) had a fair hold, down 45% from last Friday (which wasn’t its opening day) to $3.1M, and with a $10M weekend ahead.

WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL (Affirm/TriStar/Sony) opened slowly with about $3M on Friday, and will hope to cross $10M by Sunday, with the wild card chance for a heavy Sunday turnout due to its church-driven appeal.  As with If I Stay, Game has relatively low costs to recoup (reportedly $10M, plus a restrained marketing campaign)–however, If I Stay has much more potential foreign appeal (Fault was even bigger internationally than it was in the US) than the football-themed Game.

The catastrophe of the weekend is SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR (Dimension/Weinstein), a not-inexpensive project–at least $125M, including worldwide marketing–that only managed a puny $2.6M on Friday and may not reach $7M for the weekend.  The only saving grace for the studio is that it sold off many foreign territories in advance, which will help pay some of the bills, but if the franchise ever returns, it will probably be on a direct-to-VOD basis.

Some other holdovers:  THE GIVER (Weinstein) and THE EXPENDABLES 3 (Lionsgate) both took in $2M on Friday, which was a 58% drop for Giver and a 65% plunge for Expendables.  They’re both likely to have weekends in the neighborhood of $6M and US totals around $35-40M, which is bad news for both, but much worse for the considerably pricier Expendables.

THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY (DreamWorks/Disney) continues to be a low-level sleeper, down just 20% from last Friday to $1.6M, and on its way to a $5.5M weekend that will put it at $32M, with $50M a possibility.  LUCY (Universal), too, is still selling tickets, down just over 30% from last Friday to $1.1M, for a $4M weekend.

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."