Here’s what happened at the domestic box office this weekend: Fury did pretty much identical numbers as the last notable WWII flick (The Monuments Men), Gone Girl kept its foot on The Judge‘s poor neck, Book of Life did Boxtrolls-like biz which means it’s more of a “Wait and see” and less of a “Instant hit,” and Best of Me showed the first cracks in the Nichols Sparks empire. Internationally, Guardians of the Galaxy extended its hot play in China to set a couple of milestones, Dracula Untold continued maybe making up for its comparatively lackluster domestic numbers, and Maze Runner put even more distance between itself and Divergent. Let’s do the numbers.
Top 10 Estimated Domestic Totals (10/17-10/19)
1. Fury (Opening Weekend)
- Weekend Gross=$23.5 million
- Budget=$68 million
Foreign: Rolls out overseas next weekend, hitting around 25 markets, most notably the UK
Well, now Brad Pitt has something he can brag about with friends and family. He used to have the claim to the biggest opening weekend in his family with World War Z ($66m), but wife Angelina Jolie bested him with Maleficent ($69m) this summer. Now, at least he can say that his WWII movie had a bigger opening than best bud George Clooney’s WWII flick The Monuments Men, albeit not by much ($23.5m for Fury, $22m for Monuments). Monuments, which Clooney also co-wrote and directed, a feat not equaled by Pitt with Fury, ultimately topped out at $78m domestic, $154m worldwide. Fury, which is getting good reviews and earned an A- on CinemaScore, could at least equal the domestic side of the equation, although playing mostly to older (51% over the age of 35) males (60%) and so few women (40%) could hurt it long term.
2. Gone Girl
- Weekend Gross=$17.8 million (-33% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$107 million
- Budget=$61 million
Foreign: $20.2m from 57 markets this weekend for a new international/worldwide split of $94.7m/$201.5m. To this point, its most lucrative foreign markets have been the UK ($23.2m) and Australia ($14.8m), and it has openings in Korea, Italy, and Japan right around the corner.
Remember how big of a hit Captain Phillips ($107m domestic/$218m worldwide) was last October? Yeah, Gone Girl is almost bigger domestically and will soon be worldwide. Remember how big of a hit Argo ($136m domestic/$232m worldwide) was not last October but the one before that? Gone Girl is going to make a lot more. Remember how Curious Case of Benjamin Button ($127.5m domestic/$333m worldwide) is the biggest (domestic) film of director David Fincher’s career? Check back in a week or two because Gone Girl‘s going to pass it.
3. The Book of Life (Opening Weekend)
- Weekend Gross=$17 million
- Budget=$50 million
Foreign: Opening in 19 markets, Book of Life scored $8.3m for a worldwide debut of $25.3m. Its two most notable foreign markets were, not surprisingly, Mexico ($3.8m) and Brazil ($1.9m). It is expected to do exceptionally well once areas such as those begin celebrating the Dia de los Muertos holiday from 10/31 to 11/2.
Guillermo del Toro’s animatedThe Book of Life, which he produced and Jorge R. Guiterrez co-wrote and directed, aims to bring a slice of Mexican culture to the masses with a plot and visual design inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday. Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, and Channing Tatum provide the main voices. Even with all that, it was only able to draw a 30% Hispanic opening weekend audience, and basically replicated The Boxtrolls‘ opening ($17.2m) from late last month. The Boxtrolls, which cost $10m more to make than Book of Life, has since been killed by tepid-word-of-mouth and the 1-2 punch of Alexander… last weekend and Book of Life this weekend. Luckily for Book of Life, it has 3 full weeks to itself before the next animated film (Big Hero 6) comes along meaning if it suffers a similar drop-off there won’t really be anything to blame. The expectation seems to be, though, that Book of Life is ultimately primed for bigger international play than domestic.
4. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
- Weekend Gross=$12 million (-34% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$36.8 million
- Budget=$28 million
Foreign: $1.3m from 13 markets this weekend for a new international/worldwide split of $6.6 million/$43.4 million. Mexico ($2.7m) is currently Alexander…‘s leading foreign market, but it opens in the UK, Hong Kong, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Trinidad next weekend.
Last weekend, Disney described Alexander… as being “set up for a long, profitable run” even though its $18.3m debut might not have seemed that impressive. Well, they knew what they were talking about. Even with competition for family audiences from Book of Life, Alexander posted a strong second weekend hold, and does in fact seem set up for a long, profitable run, with foreign openings scheduled into January 2015.
5. Best of Me (Opening Weekend)
- Weekend Gross=$10.2 million
- Budget=$26 million
Foreign: No foreign box office yet
Well, that could have gone better. The latest adaptation of a Nicholas Spark novel, Best of Me, stars James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan as star-crossed lovers who re-find each other later in life after first falling in love as teenagers, or, you know, standard Nichols Sparks stuff. However, just as you can sometimes never really tell why a Nichols Sparks movie does so well we’re left scratching our heads after Best of Me put up the worst opening of Sparks’ career, trailing the $12.1m A Walk to Remember debuted to in 2002. It’s actually slightly worse than all that, though, since after you adjust for inflation Walk to Remember‘s opening converts to $17m. The most obvious explanation would be that we’re witnessing the result of Nichols Sparks market saturation, with Best of Me being the 5th Sparks movie since 2010. However, his most recent releases, 2012’s The Lucy One and 2013’s Safe Haven, both posted debuts north of $20m ($21.4 for Lucky, $22.5m for Safe) on the way toward respective domestic grosses of $60.4 and $71.3 million. Those debuts were among the top 3 for any Sparks release, and those domestic totals made them #3 and #5 respectively among the 9 Nicholas Sparks films. So, Best of Me is not some continuation of a recent trend, as had been the case earlier this year when the Tyler Perry films seemed to bottom out, but instead a reflection that maybe the film’s trailers simply did not present a compelling case for what kind of conflict was actually in store for the characters. Plus, it doesn’t help that there are a ton of rom-com-like sitcoms debuting on TV right now. Maybe some potential Best of Me moviegoers simply stayed home to catch up on Marry Me, Manhattan Love Story, A to Z, Selfie, etc.
- Weekend Gross=$9.8 million (-58% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$40.7 million
- Budget=$70 million
Foreign: Opening in 14 new territories this weekend, Dracula Untold scored 9 first-place debuts (Bolivia, Colombia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Philippines, Slovakia, Thailand, Trinidad and Vietnam). It was also #1 in Russia for the second weekend in a row. Altogether, it made $22.5m from 55 territories this weekend, upping its international haul to $95.7m and worldwide to $136.4m.
Universal has been seriously hedging their bets with Dracula Untold. They hired Alex Kurtzman to spearhead a new cinematic franchise built around the classic Universal monsters, with the first installment meant to be a Mummy reboot set in the modern day. By that point, Dracula Untold was pretty much already in the can. What happened next differs depending on who you ask, with some claiming Alex Kurtzman consulted on the project, influencing their decision to shoot an entirely new ending to potentially tie it into the new cinematic universe. Others claim the new ending had nothing to do with that, and was simply the result of first-time director Gary Shore failing to deliver an ending which properly wrapped up the story’s romantic arc between Vlad Tepes (Luke Evans) and his wife (Sarah Gadon). The truth is Universal is simply unwilling to outright confirm the ending was meant to connect in to their new film universe until they saw how well Dracula Untold did at the box office because. If the film’s a hit then the option is open for Luke Evans’ Dracula to come back; if not, oh well, things start for real with The Mummy.
The temptation is to say they were right to display such caution because after falling nearly 60% in its second weekend Dracula Untold is being met with audience apathy, and with just $40m domestic after 10 days it’s long-term chances aren’t looking so good even with its budget being a modest $70m. However, a 58% second-weekend drop for a film which played primarily to young males and benefited from Imax is pretty standard these days. This is a summer box office kind of drop happening outside of the summer. More importantly, though, Dracula Untold is catching on overseas, which has been the salvation for recent domestic disappointments like Hercules, Escape Plan, Expendables 3, and RoboCop.
- Weekend Gross=$7.9 million (-40% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$26.8 million
- Budget=$50 million
Foreign: $6.5m from 37 markets this weekend for a new international/worldwide split of $8.7m/$35.5m. Of the new markets it added this weekend, the most notable result was a #2 debut in Russia.
The Judge is the inaugural release from Robert Downey, Jr.’s new production company, Team Downey, which he runs with his wife. Unfortunately, last weekend it opened below expectations, its only hope being the now standard, “Our CinemaScore [A-] was strong, and our audience skewed older. Maybe word-of-mouth will kick in next weekend.” Well, a 40% second weekend drop for an adult drama like this isn’t terrible, but it’s not the “So, you’re telling me there’s a chance!” moment they were counting on. Released into a market devoid of Gone Girl, The Judge probably would have had a fighting chance, but all of the oxygen in the room for a film of this type (R-rated adult drama) has just been devoured by David Fincher and Ben Affleck’s runaway train.
- Weekend Gross=$7.9 million (-50% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$74.1 million
- Budget=$6.5 million
Foreign: $19.2m from 51 markets this weekend for a new international/worldwide split of $92m/$166m. Its top markets remain Brazil followed by the UK, France, Korea and Russia. It’s actually trending slightly ahead of The Conjuring in several of those leading markets.
With the exception of The Purge: Anarchy ($106 million worldwide, $71m domestic), 2014 has been a down year for horror films with every single release under-performing if not outright disappointing in America. Most of these (Marked Ones, Oculus, Devil’s Due, The Quiet Ones, Deliver Us from Evil, As Above/So Below) turned a profit due to mico-budgets and stronger-than-expected play overseas. However, nothing had quite hit like Sinister or Mama or Insidious or The Conjuring did last year. Annabelle, now with a worldwide gross 25 times over its production budget, has briefly altered that narrative. It is already a bigger worldwide hit than Sinister ($77m), Mama ($146m), and Insidious: Chapter 2 ($161m), and will soon past Chapter 2‘s domestic haul ($83.5m). Of course, it’s not doing The Conjuring-level biz ($137m domestic/$318m worldwide), but it was never going to. What all of this means for the relative box office health of the horror genre, though, should come into focus with the release of Ouija next weekend. Is Annabelle simply getting The Conjuring-bump? Or has it been a perfectly timed release just as Ouija could be what with being a horror film coming out so close to Halloween?
- Weekend Gross=$5.4 million (-44% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$89.1 million
- Budget=$55 million
Foreign: $8m from pretty much every possible market this weekend for a new international/worldwide split of $69.6m/$158.7m. If you’re curious how these type of things work when a film like The Equalizer actually splits its international distribution rights up, of that $69.6m international haul Sony Pictures Releasing International is responsible for $62.7m leaving $6.9m for Village Roadshow.
Denzel clearly stole Liam’s thunder. His Taken-esque film, The Equalizer, is doing Liam Neeson-like numbers whereas Liam’s A Walk Among the Tombstones, released one week before Equalizer, is sadly standing at just $30.9m worldwide at the moment. That means it is sure to take a loss for Universal, although they did only spend $28m to make it and probably not a whole lot to market it.
- Weekend Gross=$4.5 million (-40% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$90 million
- Budget=$34 million
Foreign: $17.1m from 52 markets this weekend for a international/worldwide split of $160.7m/$251.5m. It’s biggest market to this point has been Korea ($20.1m), but that could change when it opens in China in 2 weeks (10/28).
The Maze Runner has turned out to be an insanely profitable little film for 20th Century Fox, earning 7 times its budget in worldwide gross, remembering that the break even point for most films is thought to be when they double their budget in worldwide gross. As a point of comparison, this year’s other new YA film franchise kickstarter Divergent only made 3.3 times its $85m budget in worldwide gross ($288m). In fact, The Maze Runner is already a bigger hit internationally than Divergent ($160m for Maze vs. $137m for Divergent), and depending on what it does in China in 2 weeks it could even end up with a bigger worldwide haul. So, Divergent was a bigger deal domestically ($150.9m), but in every other way its box office is less impressive than Maze Runner‘s. Either way, Fox has more than enough to feel confident about next year’s Maze Runner sequel, and Lionsgate is clearly fully confident about the three Divergent sequels it has planned for the next three years.
What Happened Outside the Top 10?:
Addicted (#7 to #11), The Boxtrolls (#9 to #12), and Left Behind (#10 to not even listed in the top 40) all left the top 10 while Birdman and Dear White People scored impressive debuts in limited release, Birdman posting the year’s second best per-theater-average opening, trailing just The Grand Budapest Hotel. Poor Boxtrolls is now certain to be the worst box office performer in Laika’s short history, at least domestically where its current $46m total places it well behind Coraline ($75m) and unlikely to catch up to Paranorman ($56m). Worldwide, Boxtrolls is up to $82m which isn’t great considering that it cost around $60m to make.
What About Guardians of the Galaxy?:
Guardians pulled in $23.1m overseas this weekend, $22.3m from China where it is now up to $69m after 10 days. All of this despite the many reports that Chinese audiences are having to fight through horrendously translated subtitles attached to all prints of the film in the country. Bad subtitles haven’t hurt films like Men in Black 3 and Pacific Rim from playing big in China. With this China-bump, Guardians is now up to $404m foreign and $732.6m worldwide, good enough to make it the 3rd highest grossing Marvel film of all time behind only The Avengers ($1.5 billion) and Iron Man 3 ($1.2 billion). It has also now passed both The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ($709m) and The Winter Soldier ($714m) and will soon pass Days of Future Past ($746m) to become the highest grossing comic book movie of 2014. So, yeah, anyone who doubted Marvel on this one was wrong, wrong, wrong.
What’s Up Next?:
People keep asking Keanu Reeves if he’s back, and, yeah, I’d say he’s back, starring in Hollywood’s latest “bad ass tough guy gets revenge” tale John Wick. The ultra-early reviews have been astonishingly positive, euphoric even. You’ll likely never say that about Ouija, just the latest horror film seeking to do what the Paranormal Activity franchise used to have a stranglehold on: play big around Halloween. That didn’t work out so well last year for Carrie.