February 28, 2015

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: Middling “Focus” Sharp Enough For Win; “Lazarus” Stays Dead


You’ll be hearing quite a bit of spin over the next few days about how relatively inexpensive FOCUS (RatPac Dune/Warners) was to produce, $50-65M depending on the source.  That number, however, ignores the lavish Warners marketing campaign, which probably brings total worldwide costs to more like $175M.  That’s important, because Focus, based on preliminary numbers at Deadline, is going to be one of the weakest grossers of Will Smith’s career, with a $6.8M Friday that won’t bring its weekend much over $20M.  With the exception of Smith’s “serious” films Seven Pounds ($14.9M), Ali ($14.7M after a Tuesday opening) and The Legend of Bagger Vance ($11.5M), that will be Smith’s lowest starring opening since Enemy of the State‘s $20M in 1998.  Smith is a bigger star overseas than he is in the US these days, but Focus, while an entertainment item and not a prestige project, isn’t in his usual genre, and at this point the question is whether there will be any profit at the end of its road.

THE LAZARUS EFFECT (Relativity) was in a whole different realm of cheapness, as reportedly the studio paid just $3.5M for US rights, and its marketing campaign was comparatively puny.  Still, profits require ticket sales, and Lazarus brought in just $3.9M on Friday, heading for a $10M weekend.  It, too, will be grasping for profits.

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY (Universal/Focus) took another tumble, down 57% from last Friday to $3.4M, on its way to a $10M weekend.  It should still reach $165M in the US and is a huge hit (especially overseas), but in the US, that will mean it only managed to double its earnings from its first 3 days.

Several other holdovers are showing more staying power.  KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (MARV/20th) declined 43% from last Friday to $3M, and should have a $11M weekend, which means it should top $100M in the US before it’s done.  MCFARLAND, USA (Disney) fell 44% from its opening day to $2M, for what should be a $7M weekend, although it’ll still be hard-pressed to get past a $40M US total.

THE DUFF (CBS/Lionsgate) dropped 51% from opening day to $2.1M, and could have a $6M weekend, aiming at a $30M US total. HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 (MGM/Par), not surprisingly, collapsed on its 2d Friday by 70% to $700K, and after a $2M weekend, it may never even reach $15M in the US.

Even though AMERICAN SNIPER (Village Roadshow/Warners) won only one technical Oscar last weekend, it continues to thrive, down just 28% from last Friday to $1.9M, on its way to a $7M weekend, and just a week or two away from passing Mockingjay as 2014’s highest-grossing US release.  STILL ALICE (Sony Classics) capitalized on its Best Actress win by widening by over 70% to 1318 theatres, where it should have an OK $2.5M weekend after $750K on Friday.  BIRDMAN (Fox Searchlight) tripled its run to 1213 theatres, but it’s already available on homevideo, and will still only earn $1.5-2M for the weekend after a $500K Friday.

In limited release, MAPS TO THE STARS (Focus World)–which is also on VOD–may have a $3K average for the weekend at 66 theatres.  ’71 (Roadside) is heading for a fair $15K weekend average at 4.


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."