December 12, 2015

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “In the Heart Of the Sea” Founders As Audiences Await The Force


Tossing IN THE HEART OF THE SEA (Village Roadshow/Warners) onto what is historically one of the weakest box office weekends of the year–and this year also just days ahead of the arrival of cinema’s Death Star–was a Hail Mary, and it’s not paying off.  Based on preliminary numbers at Deadline, it earned $4M on Friday, and it may have trouble reaching $11M for the weekend–this on a production cost of at least $100M, meaning $200M+ with worldwide marketing.  Since Sea opened unimpressively in much of the world last weekend, and it’s going to lose all its IMAX screens and much of its 3D footprint on Thursday night, it’s pretty much done.  Director Ron Howard is lucky his next release is another installment in the lucrative DaVinci Code franchise.

The failure of Sea leaves the door open for THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2 (Lionsgate) to win its 4th weekend in a row, after a $3.3M Friday that should also put it around $11M for the weekend.  it will be nearing $245M by Sunday, and continues on what it hopes will be a holiday-fueled march to $300M in the US.

THE GOOD DINOSAUR (Pixar/Disney) was helped by the lack of family competition to a mild 33% Friday-to-Friday drop to $2.3M, and it should have around $10M for the weekend.  However, that will only bring it to $90M by Sunday, and with both Star Wars and Alvin & the Chipmunks arriving next week, it’s all downhill from here.

CREED (MGM/New Line/Warners) continues to hold very well, down 36% from last Friday to $2.9M and heading for a $10M weekend.  That would put it just shy of $80M by Sunday, with a $100M+ total looking likely.  The disappointment for Creed is that so far its sterling reviews isn’t putting it into the Oscar race, other than scattered attention for Sylvester Stallone as Supporting Actor, which may shorten its lifespan in theatres.

KRAMPUS (Legendary/Universal) is collapsing in the usual horror movie way, down 62% from last Friday to $2.3M, on its way to $6M for the weekend.

Both SPECTRE (MGM/Columbia/Sony) and THE NIGHT BEFORE (Columbia/Sony) are holding strong, respectively down 31% (to $1.1M) and 25% (to $1.2M) from last Friday.  Despite the good worth of mouth, however, both are still underperformers, with Spectre heading to $200M in the US and Night to $50M.

Oscar candidates SPOTLIGHT (Open Road) and BROOKLYN (Fox Searchlight) are following very similar release patterns for nearly lockstep results.  Spotlight increased its run by about 10% to 1089 theatres and should have a $2.4M weekend, while Brooklyn expanded by 5% to 947 theatres and is on track for a $1.9M weekend.  Despite the surprising amount of awards attention it’s receiving, TRUMBO (Bleecker Street) went in the other direction, shedding about 15% of its theatres to 554 and on its way to a $800K weekend.

The weekend’s awards hopeful arrival is off to a great start.  THE BIG SHORT (Paramount), which has the advantage of being a much more buoyant entertainment than much of its competition, should have a $65-70K per-theatre average at 8, one of the year’s best per-theatre openings.  It’s not waiting for an extended platform release, instead going wide on December 23.

There were expansions for several others in the Oscar race.  CAROL (Weinstein) is now in 16 theatres and should have a solid $22K weekend average. THE DANISH GIRL (Focus/Universal) is a bit less impressive with a $11K average at 24.  YOUTH (Fox Searchlight) is showing little promise with a $5K weekend average at 17.  LEGEND (Universal) and MACBETH (Weinstein) went wider, to 107 and 108 theatres respectively, with soft results.  Legend will have a weekend average around $2500, and Macbeth should be around $2K.



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."