To see our other box office top 10 breakdowns please go here.
So, here’s what happened this weekend at the domestic box office: Rise of an Empire features a mostly new cast, new director, and arrives after the 300-imitators have started to fade at the box office. However, don’t count out the power of brand recognition and the male audience since despite all odds Rise of an Empire dominated pretty much everywhere it played. Mr. Peabody & Sherman did okay but will need strong word-of-mouth from this point forward. The rest of the top 10 featured such similar totals in the 6-8 and 9-11 spots that its likely this list will see some changes once the actual box office figures are released on Tuesday. For now, let’s break it down:
Top 10 Actual Domestic Totals (3/7-3/9)
1. 300: Rise of an Empire (Opening Weekend)
- Opening Weekend Gross=$45 million
- Budget=$110 million
Foreign: Concurrent to its North American debut, 300: Rise of an Empire opened in 58 international markets where it grossed a combined $87.8 million for a worldwide debut of $132.8 million.
300 opened on the same exact weekend 7 years ago with $70.9 million (like $86 million at current ticket prices), which was well above what Warner Bros. had expected (i.e., somewhere between $35 and $40 million). At that time, that was the biggest ever March opening (since eclipsed by Oz the Great and Powerful, Alice in Wonderland, and The Hunger Games) as well as the third highest debut for an R-rated film, regardless of month of release (it’s now fourth on that list, surpassed by Hangover II). 300 ultimately ended with a domestic/worldwide split of $210 million/$456 million.
A sequel has taken so long to arrive mostly because they needed the time to figure out where to go next after killing off almost every single character, including including Gerard Butler’s standout King Leonidas. By the time Zack Snyder was offered Man of Steel, a 300 sequel had yet to actually be greenlit although Frank Miller was working on a script. So, Snyder moved on, merely producing Rise of an Empire, letting Noam Murror direct even though his only feature-length directorial credit was generally forgotten indie dramedy Smart People (2008).
Throughout all that, audiences were treated to multiple 300 knock-offs which offered semi-historical period action with digitally enhanced visuals. So, you had Clash of the Titans open with $61 million in 2010, ending with $163 million domestic/$493 million worldwide. However, audiences grew annoyed with the related 3D surcharges, and longed for a real 300 film. The Immortals opened with $32 million in 2011, ending with $83 million domestic/$143 million worldwide, while Wrath of the Titans opened with $33 million in 2012, ending with $83 million domestic/$305 million worldwide. Here in 2014, Legend of Hercules and Pompeii have been instant bombs.
So, in the face of such audience fatigue Rise of an Empire‘s $45 million is surprisingly strong, despite being 36% below the first 300. Beyond brand recognition, its main ally may have been a once strong friend who had recently fallen on hard times: 3D ticket sales, which accounted for 63% of that $45 million. Additionally, according to WB even though Rise of an Empire has opened lower in markets like the US/Canada and the UK than the first 300 it is overall opening up 10% higher in all foreign markets.
2. Mr. Peabody & Sherman (Opening Weekend)
- Opening Weekend Gross=$32.2 million
- Budget=$145 million
Foreign: Mr. Peabody & Sherman has been out overseas for several weeks but is still adding new markets. This weekend, it grossed $21 million for a new total foreign gross of $65.8 million and worldwide total of $98 million.
If only they could have kept that dang budget a little lower this would look a lot better. However, why was this movie made in the first place? Its characters are derived from Peabody’s Improbable History, an animated segment of the 1960s Rocky and Bullwinkle Show created simply to fill time between other cartoons. It is cultishly adored, heavily informing the comedic sensibilities of future luminaries like Back to the Future screenwriter Bob Gale and Simpsons creator Matt Groening. That’s great, but similar to the recent Dark Shadows and Lone Ranger films you had to wonder how much of an audience there actually was for this mostly forgotten intellectual property.
Whatever audience was there wasn’t up to DreamWorks’ usual standards, with their recent March releases – Monsters Vs. Aliens (2009), How To Train Your Dragon (2010), The Croods (2013) – all opening with at least $43 million. This is an opening more on par with last year’s Epic ($33 million) and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 ($34 million). That’s not bad, but with that big budget they’re going to need strong word-of-mouth (it received an strong A on CinemaScore) and big play overseas, the latter of which hasn’t quite happened yet.
- Weekend Gross=$15.8 million
- Total Gross to Date=$52.5 million
- Budget=$50 million
Foreign: Currently, its has a combined international gross of $20 million for a worldwide total of $72.4 million.
Non-Stop has been out for 10 days now. So, let’s look at the 10-day grosses of prior Liam Neeson action films – The Grey ($34 million), Unknown ($42 million), Taken ($53 million), and Taken 2 ($86 million). So far, so good, though obviously not Taken 2-great.
4. The LEGO Movie
- Weekend Gross=$10.9 million
- Gross to Date=$224.8 million
- Budget=$60 Million
Foreign: Currently, its has a combined international gross of $135.6 million for a worldwide total of $360.4 million. It’s only remaining major market is Japan.
LEGO Movie just suffered its worst weekend drop yet (47%), but also pulled potential audiences away from Mr. Peabody. Yay? Regardless, it’s still crazy profitable, but it is the rare recent animated film to be a much bigger hit here (domestic) than there (foreign).
5. Son of God
- Weekend Gross=$10.3 million
- Total Gross to Date=$41.8 million
- Budget=They’re not telling
Foreign: Not currently scheduled to play internationally until the end of this month.
This was a 61% drop for Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s condensed feature film version of their History Channel The Bible miniseries. Passion of the Christ only dropped 37% its second weekend, but it was on the way to becoming a cultural phenomenon, which Son of God was never going to. They’re likely ecstatic with a 10-day gross of $41.5 million.
6. The Monuments Men
- Weekend Gross=$3.06 million
- Gross to Date=$70.5 million
- Budget=$70 Million
Foreign: Currently, its has a combined international gross of $45.4 million for a worldwide total of $115.9 million
The following movies have all come and fallen out of the top 10 since Monuments Men came out: Vampire Academy, About Last Night, Endless Love, RoboCop, Winter’s Tale, Pompeii. Plus, That Awkward Moment and Labor Day came out the week prior to Monuments and are long gone now. The point is compared to the other films out Monuments Men has displayed impressive legs. However, they’re still short of doubling their production budget worldwide, and there’s only one major market (France) awaiting release.
7. 3 Days to Kill
- Weekend Gross=$3.00 million
- Total Gross to Date=$25.5 million
- Budget=$28 million
Foreign: Playing in limited release overseas; no official box office estimates yet
Their budget was reasonable meaning they could turn a profit once the international returns start coming in. However, as of late there has been a run of meager/disappointing domestic box office for action films starring older actors (e.g., Bullet to the Head, The Last Stand, Escape Plan). Regardless of what it does overseas, 3 Days to Kill is now part of that trend. If it’s not called Expendables or doesn’t star Liam Neeson an action film with an old man as the lead is not something for which domestic audiences are clamoring.
- Weekend Gross=$2.9 million
- Total Gross to Date=$392.9 million
- Budget=$150 million
Foreign: Currently, its has a combined international gross of $616.4 million for a worldwide total of $1 billion
Frozen just won Best Animated Film, but that doesn’t seem to have had any effect at the box office. It dropped 18% last weekend (before the Oscars) and grossed $3.4 million; this weekend, it dropped 17%, grossing just under $3 million. That’s pretty much business as usual for Frozen, which has now been in theaters for 4 months. If it were a newborn it would have probably already outgrown its first batch of baby clothes.
9. 12 Years a Slave
- Weekend Gross=$2.1 million
- Total Gross to Date=$53.1 million
- Budget=$20 million
Foreign: Currently, its has a combined international gross of $105.5 million for a worldwide total of $158.6 million
Fox Searchlight put 12 Years a Slave back out in more than 1,000 theaters to cash in on its recent Best Picture win, hoping audiences wouldn’t mind/notice that this is the week it also became available to rent/buy on home video. It worked to the tune of $2.1 million, yet, sadly, 12 Years a Slave remains one of the lowest domestic grossing Best Picture winners of all time.
10. Ride Along
- Weekend Gross=$2 million
- Total Gross to Date=$129.9 million
- Budget=$25 Million
Foreign: Currently, its has a combined international gross of $10 million (in limited release) for a worldwide total of $139.9 million
This is probably it for Ride Along in the top 10, and it ends its run as just the latest buddy comedy – 21 Jump Street (2012), The Heat (2013) – to breath life back into a seemingly stale genre.
What Happened Outside of the Top 10?
Who Fell Out of the Top 10?: RoboCop (#6 to #11), About Last Night (#9 to #12), and Pompeii (#7 to #13). Currently killing it in China, RoboCop now has $165 million in foreign gross for a worldwide total of $220 million, all after costing $100 million to produce. Pompeii, on the other hand, also cost $100 million to produce, but only has $78 million in worldwide gross at the moment.
Any Notable Performances Outside the Top 10?: Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel brought in $800,000 despite playing in a mere four theaters in NY and LA, a per-screen-average of $200,000, ninth best of all time. That’s good – it also might mean absolutely nothing since The Master and Inside Llewyn Davis‘ did well early on in NY and LA but not so much everywhere else. Anderon’s last movie, Moonrise Kingdom, ended its theatrical run with $45.5 million domestic, which is a good target to equal/beat for Grand Budapest.
What’s Up Next?: Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul challenges us to watch him portray a character who doesn’t end every other sentence with the word “bitch” in the PG-13 rated Need for Speed, adapted from the long-running video game series. They’re going for a Fast & Furious thing, but those trailers have been a tad confusing. Elsewhere, Lionsgate counter-programs with the latest Tyler Perry title (The Single Moms Club). This comes after Tyler Perry’s poor recent box office forced him to close his LA offices and operate his production company entirely out of its pre-existing Atlanta, GA offices.