March 29, 2014

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “Noah” Floods the Multiplex


Darren Aronofsky’s NOAH (Paramount) should have no trouble winning the weekend, with preliminary numbers at Deadline giving it around $15M on Friday (that includes $1.6M from Thursday night).  That’s a strong result for a film that doesn’t fit into a conventional Hollywood genre, and normally it would indicate a weekend of $40M or more, but audiences are discovering Noah to be darker and less traditionally religious than they may have expected, and exit polls suggest that word of mouth may be an issue as the weekend goes on.  (Another possibility is that the opening night crowd was the group expecting confirmation of their pre-formed concepts of inspiration, and the ticketbuyers who arrive later in the weekend will be more appreciative.)

The weekend’s other “major” opening is a bust, as Arnold Schwarzenegger goes 0 for 3 in his post-politics comeback with just $1.5M or so for SABOTAGE (Open Road), probably headed for a $4M weekend and an ugly per-theatre average under $2K for the weekend.  The semi-limited release of CESAR CHAVEZ (Lionsgate/Pantelion) isn’t finding much of a crossover audience with $725K on Friday at 664 theatres, perhaps $2.5M for the weekend.

There were a couple of notable expansions.  THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (Fox Searchlight) widened to 977 theatres with $2.1M on Friday and a likely $8M weekend, a better average than The King’s Speech had when it reached 1543 theatres, and considerably above the 800+ theatre expansions of Moonrise Kingdom, Blue Jasmine, 12 Years A Slave and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  BAD WORDS (Focus/Universal), though, is another example of a film festival comedy hit not traveling to the mainstream, with just $675K on Friday in 842 theatres and perhaps a $2M weekend.  In addition, GOD’S NOT DEAD (Freestyle) increased its theatre count by about 45% to 1178, and was able to hold its descent to around 25% from last Friday to $2.2M, on its way to a $7-8M weekend despite the arrival of Noah.

DIVERGENT (Summit/Lionsgate) dominated the holdovers, down a decent 63% from last Friday to $8.3M, and a probable $25M weekend, putting a $150M US total in sight.  MUPPETS MOST WANTED (Disney) declined only about 35% from its start last Friday to around $3M on Friday and a $10-12M weekend, but its opening was so low that it’s still unlikely to get higher than $50-60M in the US.  The hold for MR. PEABODY AND SHERMAN (DreamWorks Animation/20th) was even stronger, down only 20% from last Friday to $2.3M and a $10M weekend, on track for $125M in the US.

Both NEED FOR SPEED (DreamWorks/Disney) and 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE (Warners/Legendary) are running out of steam in the US (but thrive overseas), with Fridays just above $1M and weekends in the $3-4M neighborhood, down more than 50% from last week and headed respectively for $45M and $110M in the US.

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."