Box Office Top 10 Film Film News

Box Office: LEGO Movie’s Opening Among the All-Time Best for February, Vampire Academy’s Opening Among the Worst…Ever

To see our other box office top 10 breakdowns please go here.

So, here’s what happened this weekend at the domestic box office: Oh, my G-O-S-H gosh, The Lego Movie had a monster opening weekend, Monuments Men sure didn’t embarrass itself, which is more than you can say for Vampire Academy.  Plus, Frozen’s long-term march toward world box office domination continued unabated.  Let’s break it down:

Top 10 Actual Domestic Totals for the 2/7-2/9 Box Office

1. The LEGO Movie (Opening Weekend)

the_lego_movie_2014-wide

  • Opening Weekend Gross=$69 million
  • Budget=$60 Million

Foreign: Concurrent to its domestic debut, LEGO Movie opened in 34 foreign markets, most of them small other than Brazil and Mexico.  Its foreign opening was $18.1 million which makes for a worldwide debut of $87.1 million.

This was the second biggest opening weekend for a February release, trailing only the $83 million Passion of the Christ pulled down in 2004.  Even after you adjust for ticket price inflation, LEGO Movie‘s near-$70 million opening is still good enough for third highest, trailing the adjusted openings for Hannibal ($85 million) and Passion of the Christ ($112 million).  But, come on, we’re talking about the barren wasteland for new movies that is February.  In fact, last week Slate (via AVClub) used RottenTomatoes scores to statistically prove that February has been the worst month for new movies as far as quality is concerned since 2000.  So, isn’t it kind of a back-handed compliment to congratulate a movie for doing good in February?  

Actually, even if they’re not very good February releases can actually do big business. LEGO Movie‘s opening is well ahead of them, but after you adjust for inflation the openings for general crapfests like Daredevil ($55 million), Ghost Rider ($55 million), 50 First Dates ($53 million), Madea Goes to Jail ($45 million), the 2009 Friday the 13th remake ($45 million), Norbit ($41 million), and Constantine ($38 million) don’t look that bad.  In fact, since 2000 February has usually only been around the 4th lowest grossing month of the year, with January the lowest.  However, LEGO Movie is one of those February anomalies that makes beaucoup bucks while also being an awesome film, like 2010’s Shutter Island or going way back to 1991 for Silence of the Lambs.  It’s also the rare animated film to do well in February, where the average animated film to open wide in the month since 2006 (Escape from Planet Earth, Gnomeo & Juliet, Coraline, Curious George) had an average opening weekend of $18.2 million.  Regardless of month, this was the 11th highest opening weekend for an animated film, just ahead of Up ($68 million) while barely behind The Lorax ($70 million).

LEGO is the second-biggest worldwide toy company which equals huge brand awareness. Plus, their LEGO Star Wars/Harry Potter/Indiana Jones/Lord of the Rings/Batman/etc. video games have collectively moved 85 million units.  These games combine adult nostalgia for well-known cinematic franchises with simplistic gameplay to make for an ideal multi-generational gaming experience.  Their games as well as their direct-to-video films and two animated shows (Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu, Legends of Chima) and recurring Star Wars specials on Cartoon Networks consistently deliver slapstick humor for the kids and pop culture/meta humor for the adults.  So, this is that perfect animated film adults can enjoy as much if not more than kids.  You can read more about LEGO’s Hollywood branding strategy in this Hollywood Reporter profile from last year. 

2. The Monuments Men (Opening Weekend)

Monuments Men Clooney

  • Opening Weekend Gross=$22 million
  • Budget=$70 Million

Foreign: It expands to major foreign markets next weekend.

Monuments Men had Oscar-bait written all over it with its all-star cast (George Clooney-who also directed, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett), period setting, and being based on a little known but true WWII story.  So, when Sony ditched their Oscar-qualifying Christmas release, delaying the film to this weekend, it not only signaled a fear of the competition at the box office but also a complete lack of faith in Monuments Men as a legitimate Oscar contender. That belief appears justified by the horrible 33% RottenTomatoes score, the lowest of Clooney’s directorial career (Confessions of a Dangerous MindGood Night, and Good Luck, Leatherheads, Ides of March) to this point.  However, abandoning any kind of Oscar campaign and instead opening as counter-programming for older audiences not swayed by the kiddie fun of LEGO Movie delivered a bigger-than-expected opening.  Before this, the biggest opening for any of Clooney’s directorial efforts was $12.6 million for Leatherheads in 2005.  The opening audience was 75% over the age of 35, and recent older skewering films like Last Vegas, Captain Phillips, and Argo have enjoyed longer than expected box office runs suggesting Monuments could stick around for a while.

3. Ride Along

ride-along-review

  • Weekend Gross=$9.5 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$105.3 million
  • Budget=$25 Million

Foreign: In limited foreign release, it has grossed $2.5 million for a worldwide total of $107.9 million.

It remains to be seen how much next weekend’s rom-com About Last Night featuring Kevin Hart in ensemble cast of other African-American actors will impact Kevin Hart’s current film, Ride Along. However, after three straight weekends atop the chart, Ride Along declined a mere 21%, and dropped 2 spots on the chart.  It has now become one of the biggest buddy comedies of the past 14 years, still off the pace of The Heat ($159 million) and 21 Jump Street ($138 million) but with a shot of catching up to The Other Guys ($119 million).

4. Frozen 

Frozen

  • Weekend Gross=$6.8 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$368.5 million
  • Budget=$150 million

Foreign: $24 million this weekend for a new international total of $545.1 million and worldwide total of $913.6 million.

Even with LEGO Movie soaking up attention, Frozen eased its usual impressive 22% this weekend, putting forth the 8th all-time best box office performance for a film in its 11th weekend of wide release.  Frozen has now become the highest domestic grossing animated film released in 2013, passing Despicable Me 2‘s $368 million.  The bigger story is in China, where Frozen grossed $13.7 million on the way to pushing its worldwide gross past $900 million.  At this rate, Frozen will pass Despicable Me 2‘s $970 million worldwide total to become the second highest worldwide grossing film released in 2013, trailing only Iron Man 3‘s $1.2 billion.

5. Lone Survivor 

lone-survivor-movie-trailer1

  • Weekend Gross=$5.5 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$112.8 million
  • Budget=$40 million

Foreign: Currently, its total foreign gross is $7.1 million (almost entirely from France, Spain, and the UK) which now adds up to a worldwide total of $119.9 million.

While everyone is flipping out over Mark Wahlberg’s upcoming Transformers: Age of Extinction (6/27/14) because those crappy sequels are apparently totally forgiven if you have the robots ride giant dinosaurs this time, Wahlberg’s passion project, Lone Survivor, continues to stick around in the box office top 10.  It has already become, by a relatively wide margin, the highest domestic grossing film to fictionalize events related to the American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

6. That Awkward Moment

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  • Weekend Gross=$5.2 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$16.5 million
  • Budget=$8 million

Foreign: Currently, its total foreign gross is $1.5 million (entirely from the UK) which now adds up to a worldwide total of $18 million.

Awkward Moment is the first Focus Features release of the Peter Schlessel era of the art-house division of Universal, who brought him in as the new President to transition away from prestige pictures like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Moonrise Kingdoom, and Dallas Buyer’s Club to highly profitable micro-budget affairs like his Insidious at FilmDistrict.  After putting up one of the weaker Super Bowl weekend openings in recent memory, Awkward fell off 40% this weekend.  Compare that to last year’s Don Jon, a similar guy-leaning romantic comedy which had an almost identical opening weekend as Awkward but fell off 52% in its second weekend.  Don Jon ended with a $24 million domestic gross.  Awkward Moment would seem set to pass that, but it might struggle next weekend when 3 romance-tinged films open for Valentine’s Day, including fellow rom-com About Last Night.

7. Vampire Academy (Opening Weekend)

rose-lissa-vampire-academy-st-vladimirs

  • Opening Weekend Gross=$3.9 million
  • Budget=They’re not telling

Foreign: The Weinstein Company won’t inflict Vampire Academy on the rest of the world until next weekend.

Other than the monumentally successful Hunger Games and mid-level success of Percy Jackson, Hollywood’s attempt to chase that Harry Potter/Twilight audience is flaming out in spectacular fashion, with one failed YA novel adaptation (Cirque de Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, The Seeker: The Dark is Rising) after another (Ender’s Game, Mortal Instruments, Beautiful Creatures, The Host).  However, Vampire Academy might have bested them all, putting up the 4th worst opening for a YA novel adaptation, 2nd after you adjust for inflation (and ignore how the worst opener, Blood & Chocolate, played in 1,400 fewer theaters), and 12th worst (4th worst after inflation) opening gross for a film to play in 2,500 theaters or more.  Last year’s run of low-grossing YA adaptations (The Host, Beautiful Creatures, Mortal Instruments, Ender’s Game) all managed to make at least nearly $8 million in their opening weekends.

So, why did Vampire Academy bomb so hard?   Maybe it was the shoddy production values which made it look more like a CW TV show than a film, maybe its ultra-transparent Twilight-meets-Harry Potter formula was so disgustingly obvious the film seemed more like a parody of itself, or maybe it simply arrived too long after Twilight and Harry Potter had ended their runs.  At this point, the vampire fad seems played out with CW’s Vampire Diaries/The Originals and SyFy’s Being Human the only vampire-centric films (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Dark Shadows, Fright Night, Let Me In, The Vampire’s Assistant) or TV shows (Dracula, True Blood) to do well lately.

8. The Nut Job

the-nut-job-movie-photo-11

  • Weekend Gross=$3.7 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$55 million
  • Budget=$30-42 million ($30 million after tax breaks)

Foreign: It is playing in limited international release, where it has grossed $2.9 million for a worldwide gross of $58 million. 

The Nut Job is the inaugural independent release from various South Korean entities, distributed stateside by Open Road Films.  They’re happy enough with The Nut Job they already commissioned a sequel, scheduling it for a January 2016 release.  It will end up making more than 2013 animated films like Escape from Planet Earth and Free Birds but not nearly as much as Planes or Turbo.

9. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit 

chris_pine_to_star_as_jack_ryan_tom_clancy_novels1

  • Weekend Gross=$3.5 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$44.4 million
  • Budget=$60 million

Foreign: Currently, it has grossed $70 million internationally for a worldwide total of $114.4 million.

Even though Shadow Recruit‘s international business is enough that they’ll end up doubling their production budget, that sequel director Branagh keeps saying he’d love to do seems unlikely since the film has thus far primary appealed to a marketing sector the studios generally don’t care about: old people.  As a frame of reference, prior to Shadow Recruit, the average Jack Ryan movie averaged a total domestic gross of $92 million, $168 million after you adjust for inflation.  The average worldwide gross was $177 million, not adjusted for inflation.

10. Labor Day

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  • Weekend Gross=$3.1 million
  • Total Gross to Date=$10.1 million
  • Budget=$18 million

Foreign: Less than $100,000 in very, very limited release in foreign markets at this point.

Labor Day was in the near exact some position as Monuments Men in that it was a would-be awards contender targeted for at least an Oscar-qualifying December release before market saturation and lack of faith in the film forced the studio to push it back.  However, unlike Monuments Men Labor Day hasn’t attracted much of an audience, performing around on par with director Jason Reitman’s prior film, Young Adult, which topped out at $16 million domestically.

Source: BoxOfficeMojo.com

What Happened Outside of the Top 10?

Who Fell Out of the Top 10?: American Hustle (#8 to #11), I, Frankenstein (#9 to #15), and Wolf of Wall Street (#10 to #12)

Who Won the Race of Awards-Contenders?: The post-Academy Awards nominations re-releases of 12 Years a Slave and Dallas Buyers Club are pretty much over now, each dropping out of over 400 of theaters and grossing less than $1 million this weekend. Gravity, meanwhile, added $1.6 million to its already considerable domestic total, and August: Osage County continues pulling down that kind of business as well.

What’s Up Next?: Three romantically-tinged movies come out on Valentine’s Day, the magical realism of Winter’s Tale, young romance of Endless Love, and guys/gals sure be crazy comedy of About Last Night (2/14).  The Robocop remake, which as it turns out may not be 100% terrible, will attempt to siphon away the male audience, opening two days early on Wednesday (2/12).

UPDATED 2/10/14: This post has been updated with the actual as opposed to studio estimated box office totals.  What changed?  Lone Survivor finished 5th, not 6th, while Awkward Moment finished 6th, not 5th.

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