July 25, 2015

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “Pixels” A Moderate Gamer, “Paper Towns” and “Southpaw” Soft


PIXELS (Columbia/Sony) was marketed on its high concept rather than as an Adam Sandler star vehicle, perhaps reflecting not just Sandler’s dwindling value, but the shuttering of his long-term acting relationship with the studio as he moves to Netflix.  The result was better than some of Sandler’s recent flops, but far from exciting:  according to preliminary numbers at Deadline, a $9.2M opening day (which includes $1.5M from Thursday night).  That’s better than the $4.4M/4.6M starts for Blended and That’s My Boy, but below the $9.8M opening of Jack and Jill, which had a $25M first weekend and a $74.2M US total, and of course it was nowhere near the $14-16M initial days of his last real hits, the Grown Ups movies.  Pixels may bring in some family business on Saturday–if contemporary youngsters have any interest in characters from 1980s video games–but seems headed for a mediocre $23M weekend.  It’ll hope to reach $75M in the US, which will still put it in the position of needing strong overseas results to earn back costs that will top $225M when worldwide marketing is included.

The question for both PAPER TOWNS (20th) and SOUTHPAW (Weinstein) will be how frontloaded they turn out to be, Paper with young female audiences and Southpaw with urban ticketbuyers.  Paper Towns had the Friday lead, $6.7M to $6M (that respectively includes $2M/1.3M from Thursday night), and both are likely to be in the $16M neighborhood for the weekend.  Although Paper, which is based on a novel by Fault In Our Stars author John Green, won’t be remotely close to that blockbuster’s $48M start, it’s already ahead of the total gross for the YA comedy-drama Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which despite film festival raves was at $6.2M at the end of last weekend.  Southpaw will be well behind the $10.4M first weekend of Jake Gyllenhaal’s last vehicle Nightcrawler, but has hopes of legging out a run over the rest of the summer.

All of the newcomers will be topped by the 2d weekend of ANT-MAN (Marvel/Disney), which fell 67% from its opening day to a $7.4M Friday.  That compares to a 69% Friday-to-Friday drop for the first Captain America, and a 64% drop for the original Thor, and suggests a $27M weekend is in store.  Both of those earlier superhero movies, though, opened before the market was saturated with the genre, and with Fantastic Four just around the corner, Ant-Man may find itself on the low end of the Marvel universe, challenged to get much past $150M in the US (Thor ended up at $181M and Captain America at $176.7M).  It should, however, outpace the $134.8M US total of The Incredible Hulk.  Once again, international returns will be the key to real success.

MINIONS (Illumination/Universal) continues to burn out fast, down 56% from last Friday to $6.4M, with a $22M weekend ahead, and likely headed to $300M in the US.  It seems as though Inside Out (already at $306.2M at the end of last weekend) will hold the title of the summer’s biggest animated hit in the US, although Minions may well be the more successful worldwide.

TRAINWRECK (Universal) had a fair 50% Friday-to-Friday drop to $5.3M, headed for a $17M weekend.  That’s a better result for a 2d Friday than the 54% drop for Spy, although it’s not in a league with the incredible 19% drop for the 2d Friday of Bridesmaids, or even the 39% for Knocked UpTrainwreck still has the potential to reach $100M in the US, and even if it ends up a bit below that mark, it’s a hit considering its moderate costs.

INSIDE OUT (Pixar/Disney) and JURASSIC WORLD (Legendary/Universal) have been doing parallel business for weeks, and both had $2M Fridays on the way to $7M or so weekends.

MR. HOLMES (Miramax/Roadside) expanded to 686 theatres and should have a middling $4000 per-theatre average for the weekend.  Woody Allen’s IRRATIONAL MAN (Sony Classics) widened to 28 and is already running out of steam, heading for a $7500 weekend average.  (Magic in the Moonlight averaged $11K at 65, and To Rome With Love averaged $24K at 29–and those weren’t even among Allen’s recent hits.)


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."