January 10, 2015

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: Multiplexes “Taken” Again By Liam Neeson Franchise


Note:  because last Friday was part of a holiday weekend, the week-to-week declines for holdovers are unusually heavy.  That will modify over the course of the weekend, since the holiday box office was already tailing off by last Friday.

TAKEN 3 (Europa/20th) had no problem taking over the box office reins from the holiday season hits.  Preliminary numbers at Deadline have the third and supposedly final entry in the franchise at $14.7M on Friday (including $1.6M from Thursday night), below Taken 2‘s $18.4M start but still very solid.  Taken 2 had a fairly good 2.7x weekend multiple from its Friday, but Taken 3 is a much lousier movie (one LA audience was treating it as an outright comedy by the time it ended), so word-of-mouth may not be as strong.  Still, it should reach $35M+ for the weekend, enough for the #3-4 January opening ever, and a very good return on what was reportedly a $48M production budget (which becomes more like $150M with worldwide marketing included).

SELMA (Paramount) isn’t strictly speaking a newcomer, since it opened in limited release for the holidays, but it was in only a few cities until its expansion on Friday to 2179 theatres, where it opened with $3.8M and should have a fine $12M weekend.  (By comparison, last January Her expanded to 1729 theatres on the pre-Oscar nomination weekend and only managed $5.4M.)  It should peak next weekend, with the combination of hoped-for Oscar bids (possibly even success at this weekend’s Golden Globes) and the Martin Luther King Day holiday.

The other Oscar hopeful in the Top 10 is THE IMITATION GAME (Weinstein), which was already in a semi-wide 754-theatre release, but more than doubled its run to 1566.  It had a $2M Friday and what should be a $7M weekend, which would put it over $40M.  If it has awards success, it will be well-placed to get past The Grand Budapest Hotel‘s $59.1M by Oscar weekend as the top indie of 2014.

A trio of holiday holdovers were closely packed:  THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES (New Line/MGM/Warners), INTO THE WOODS (Disney) and UNBROKEN (Legendary/Universal) were all around $2.5M on Friday, and should all have weekends in the $8.5M neighborhood.  That will put Woods and Unbroken over the $100M mark, and Hobbit 3 will hit $235M.  It’s the biggest hit of the holidays, but the calendar has caught up with it in the sense that by Sunday, it may only be $3M ahead of The Desolation of Smaug, which opened on a different timetable, and the two are likely to be neck-and-neck from here on.

Approaching a milestone:  THE HUNGER GAMES:  MOCKINGJAY PART I (Lionsgate), which is nearing the end of its run with $1M on Friday and a $3.5M weekend, but should still squeak past Guardians of the Galaxy and its $331.1M (Mockingjay should be around $329M by Sunday) as the top film in the US that opened in 2014.

Last week’s opening THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2: ANGEL OF DEATH (Relativity) inevitably plunged in its second weekend, and may not get much past $5M, a drop of around 65%.  A $30M US total, while far from the first Woman‘s $54.3M, would still be reasonable for a very cheap project.

A pair of other holiday openings are fading:  NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB (20th) had a $1.6M Friday and perhaps a $7M weekend, which will get it near if not over $100M, and ANNIE (Columbia/Sony) earned $1M on Friday for a $4M weekend, putting it at $78M.

INHERENT VICE (Warners) expanded, but to a still-midlevel 645 theatres.  It was merely OK at a $900K Friday and $3M weekend, giving it a per-theatre average of $4500 that doesn’t provide much potential for further expansion.

AMERICAN SNIPER (Warners) and A MOST VIOLENT YEAR (A24) remained in successful 4-theatre runs.  “Successful” rather understates things for Sniper, on its way to a third consecutive weekend with a per-theatre average over $100K, which appears to be an unprecedented feat.  Violent‘s is a more normal-sized accomplishment, with a Weekend 2 average around $25K.

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."