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Sunday March 29, 2015

Weekend Box Office: Moviegoers Want to Go 'Home'

weekend box office: March 29, 2015

Things on heads: a theme.

So is Lionsgate/Summit still going to split the final “Divergent” book into two parts, a la “Harry Potter” and “Twilight”? Because at least those movies were blockbusters. Most of the “Twilight” movies grossed between $400 and $800 worldwide, while the “Harry Potter” movies all grossed between $800 million and $1.3 billion worldwide. That last figure was for “Deathly Hallows Part 2”; and since “Deathly Hallows Part 1” also grossed $960 million worldwide, splitting the final book into two movies meant an extra billion smackers. Hardly chump change. Expecto Dollarum.

“Divergent”? More like Expecto doldrums. The studio, I’m sure, hoped for a “Hunger Games,” but the first movie only did $150 domestic, $137 foreign. The second, “Insurgent,” is doing worse domestically. It opened to $52 last weekend, then dropped 58% this weekend to $22. So after two weekends it’s at $86 as opposed to $94 for the first. Will there really be a clammer for an elongated version of the final lame book? I can’t imagine it.

The second weekend of “Insurgent” was the No. 3 movie this weekend, after two poorly reviewed movies, the animated “Home” (48% on RT) and the comedic “Get Hard” (32%), opened at $54 and $34 million, respectively. The latter is the third-best live-action opening of Will Ferrell’s career and the third-best of Kevin Hart’s career. So teaming them has at least made financial sense. Don’t know much about “Home,” other than the ad could read: “From the writers of ‘Get Smart,’ the director of ‘Sinbad: The Legend of the Seven Seas,’ and from the studio that brought you ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakel.’”

The rest of the top 10 includes the third weekend of “Cinderella” (now at $150 domestic, $280 worldwide), the fourth weekeend of “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” ($28 domestic, $62 worldwide) and the seventh weekend of “Kingsman” ($119 domestic, $302 worldwide).

Next weekend we get the seventh installment of “Fast and Furious,” called “Furious 7,” which star Vin Diesel thinks should win an Academy Award for best picture. Because he’s Vin Diesel. 

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Posted at 09:23 AM on Mar 29, 2015 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday March 22, 2015

‘Insurgent’ Duplicates ‘Divergent’ Box Office; ‘Do You Believe?’ Converts Few; ‘Gunman’ Slain

Insurgent with Shailene Woodley

Here's a thought: Let's give Shailene Woodley a haircut so she looks like a 38-year-old woman.

A year ago, “Divergent,” despite poor reviews (41% on Rotten Tomatoes), opened to $54.6 million domestic and topped out at $150 ($288 worldwide). This weekend, its sequel, “Insurgent,” despite poorer reviews (32%), opened to about the same: $54 million. That doesn’t exactly hurt but it doesn’t exactly help, either. Sequels to good products are supposed to do better than the original. But “Divergent” isn’t a good product.

Of note: the top four openers so far this year have all been women- or children-centered:

Movie Opening Domestic Worldwide Weeks
Fifty Shades of Grey $85.1 $163 $558 6
Cinderella $67.8 $122 $253 2
The SpongeBob Movie $55.3 $158 $274 7
Insurgent $54.0 $54 $101 1

(I know: $558 million worldwide for “Fifty Shades”? Don't we have a safe word to make it stop?)

“The Gunman,” with Sean Penn, Javier Bardem and Idris Elba, fared poorer at the box office than “Insurgent” ($5 million, fourth place), which was expected, but also poorer with the critics (14%), which wasn’t.

The other big opener, “Do You Believe?” which attempts to redo “God’s Not Dead” without the culture-war nastiness (pairing old TV stars with heavy religious themes, but with a focus on the positive works of Christ rather than the negative works of atheistic professors), didn’t exactly knock the socks off Christian moviegoers: It grossed $4 million in 1,320 theaters, which is worse than “GND” ($9 million) and “When the Game Stands Tall” ($8 million), but better than “Left Behind” and “The Identical” ($2 and $1.5). Question: How many of these crappy Christian movies have to open before Hollywood is no longer viewed as Sodom and Sodom by the Christian right? I’m guessing no amount will change that mindset.

Last week’s #1, “Cinderella,” dropped 50% but still grossed $34 million. The second weekend of “Run All Night” with Liam Neeson finished third with $5. It’s now at $19.7 and officially toast. “Kingsman” added a bit to its $114 domestic total ($295 worldwide), while the rest of the top 10 is the dregs of spring: “Marigold 2,” “Focus,” “Chappie,” “McFarland.”

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Posted at 11:31 AM on Mar 22, 2015 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday March 08, 2015

Better to Kill than Die at the Box Office: ‘American Sniper’ Becomes #1 Hit of 2014; Blomkamp, Vaughn Wounded

American Sniper

The story is less the first-place finisher than the 11th. But it’s also the first.

The 11th-place finisher was the 11th weekend of “American Sniper,” which grossed  another $4.5 million and strolled past “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay–Part 1” to become the #1 box-office hit of 2014. It’s the first time a Clint Eastwood movie has finished first in the box office, and he did it in his 84th year. That’s beyond impressive. It also means that Breitbart’s “Big Hollywood” got another thing wrong with its 2014 box-office predictions

The first-place finisher was “Chappie,” a sci-fi drama written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, whose “District 9” opened to critical acclaim and $37 million in August 2009, and whose “Elysium” opened to more criticism and less acclaim, as well as $29 million, in August 2013. This one won the weekend with a mere $13.3 million. It was also skewered by critics. So ... wrong direction for Blomkamp. But I was never a huge fan.

A bigger story might be the 10th-place finisher, the first weekend of “Unfinished Business,” the new Vince Vaughn comedy, which earned just $4.8 million in more than 2,700 theaters. Vaughn has been a fairly sure box-office winner since “Wedding Crashers” in 2005, but he’s on a downward trajectory, too. Since 2006, his movies have opened at: $39, $18, $31, $34, $17, $12, $17, and $7.9 before this one. A wide-release Vince Vaughn movie hasn’t opened this low since ... never.

Is that the current state of Hollywood? Sci-fi flicks and sure-fire comedies die at the box office, while national tragedies remade into personal, bittersweet dramas kill at the box office? And is this a bad thing? For all its faults, at least “American Sniper” was about recent tragic events. It also reminded us that in war, as well as the box office, it’s better to kill than die. I’m sure Blomkamp and Vaughn, deeply wounded at this point, agree. 

Is “American Sniper” also a good counterpoint to ageism? When, after all, was the last time the #1 box-office hit of the year was directed by someone in their 80s? I’m guessing ... never.

The weekend numbers from Box Office Mojo.

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Posted at 09:30 AM on Mar 08, 2015 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday March 01, 2015

Box Office: Moviegoers Not Conned (Much) By 'Focus'

Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Focus

Smith's movie career is lacking focus.

Here’s how Will Smith’s mass-release (3,000+ theaters) openers have done since 2007: 

Year Title Opening BO Thtrs
2007 I Am Legend $77,211,321 3,606
2008 Hancock $62,603,879 3,965
2012 MIB 3 $54,592,779 4,248
2013 After Earth $27,520,040 3,401
2015 Focus $19,100,000 3,323

Remember the joke that kept Eddie Murphy off “SNL” for 20 years? Like that.

Even so, “Focus” won the weekend with $19.1, followed by the third weekend of “Kingsman” at $11.7, the fourth weekend of “SpongeBob” at $11.2, and the third weekend of “Fifty Shades” at $10.9. The opening weekend of “The Lazarus Effect” was in fifth place with $10.6. 

“Fifty Shades” has plunged, boy. It dropped 50 percent on top of the near-record 72 percent drop the week before. It’s the highest-grossing movie of the year so far (at $147) but looks like it’ll have trouble even doubling its opening weekend total of $85. There’s a sexual metaphor here I’ll ignore out of politeness.

A lot of movies—most Oscar winners—increased theater count, including “Birdman” (+806) and “Still Alice (+553); but the oddest increase came from Paramount, whose “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” died in its debut last weekend, receiving abysmal reviews (15% RT) and garnering abysmal box office ($5.9, seventh place). So what does Paramount do? Adds 21 theaters. Result? Movie drops 59.8 percent to 10th place. Ad wizards.

Meanwhile, “American Sniper” keeps on. It dropped only 23.4 percent for another $7.7 million. It’s now grossed $331.1 million. Next weekend it looks set to surpass “Mockingjay–Part 1” ($336.7) as the highest-grossing film of 2014.

Weekend numbers here

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Posted at 11:12 AM on Mar 01, 2015 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday February 22, 2015

Box Office: 'Fifty Shades' Goes Down

Fifty Shades of Grey

Three new movies opened this weekend, grossing $11 million (“McFarland, USA”—nice '70s-era title), $11 million (“The DUFF”), and $5.8 million (“Hot Tub Time Machine 2”). The less said about this last the better, other than the usual “ad wizards” talk. Was any sequel less wanted? Clamored for nowhere?

As a result, the top three spots remained unchanged: 1) “Fifty Shades of Grey” with $23 (down 72.7%), 2) “Kingsman” at $17 (down 51%) and 3) “SpongeBob” at $15 (down 50%).

That 72.7% second-weekend drop for “Fifty Shades,” btw, is the 39th-biggest drop ever. If you discount movies that opened in fewer than 2,000 theaters, it's the 11th-biggest drop ever. For movies in more than 3,000 theaters? Tied for second worst. Only the 2009 “Friday the 13th” remake dropped faster (80.4%). The aptly named “Doom,” from 2005, dropped at the same rate as “Fifty Shades,” and it had the aptly named “Rock” to accompany its fall. Apparently we're done with Mr. Grey now. It was all over so fast, wasn't it?

Among the Oscar nominees, “American Sniper” grossed another $9.6 for a $319 domestic gross and a $406 worldwide gross, while “The Imitation Game” pulled in $2.5 for $83 domestic gross and $160 worldwide. More on Oscar box office in a moment. 

As for what should win the box-office headline sweepstakes this weekend?

  • “Fifty Shades” Goes Down
  • “Fifty Shades” Drops To Its Knees
  • “Fifty Shades” Shoots Wad
  • You Won't See Mr. Grey Now

You have my pick. 

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Posted at 09:39 AM on Feb 22, 2015 in category Movies - Box Office
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