Box Office Report (1.27.15)

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number-1-sign-300x250Apologies for the delay folks… without any further wait, let’s see how the tills balanced at the multiplex and get right down to the facts, figures, and numbers from the box office weekend that was…

Audiences continue to swarm to Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper which delivered a stunning second wide-release weekend of $64.6 million dollars this past weekend. Clearly more than a flash in the pan, American Sniper, with this second-weekend hold, is on pace to rewrite North American box office history. We will get into that more in a moment, but…

I have to ask…Does anyone care about anything else at the multiplex?

Granted, the three new films which opened wide last weekend were reviled by critics and eventually audiences alike, but while The Boy Next Door performed decently well, Disney’s Strange Magic and the Johnny Depp-led Mortdecai were historically bad, both in terms of quality and their ticket sales.

And in the case of Mortdecai, you really have to wonder if Johnny Depp can open a movie by himself anymore.

Sniper’s Success Almost Unparalleled

bradleycooper_americansniperPlaying on more screens than any other R-rated film ever, American Sniper added more theaters and shed just 27% in its second wide release weekend. If you agree that Avatar is now a franchise, the haul of $64.6 million makes Sniper, a 6-time Oscar nominee this year, set the record for the largest non-franchise second wide release weekend in movie history (and 8th overall).

As predicted last weekend, Sniper is now Clint Eastwood’s biggest grossing film of all time, including adjusting all of his films for inflation, and the projections on how big this film will get are starting to become staggering.

Presuming that the film can retain a similar 25-30% drop this weekend versus three new films which barely screened or were flat out withheld from critics altogether, Sniper‘s first real challenge comes from the Wachowskis divisive Jupiter Ascending on February 6. If Jupiter is perhaps more Cloud Atlas then The Matrix when it comes to tabulating its opening weekend receipts, Sniper will likely stay at number one until Fifty Shades of Greyalready seeing record sales from sites like Fandango and MovieTickets.com, opens on February 13.

But how big will the movie be at that point? The largest grossing R-rated film of all-time is Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ which banked $370.8 million in 2004. Sniper is on pace to come close, if not surpass that figure, especially if it continues to hold strong over these next few weekends. If Sniper reaches $300 million, attainable over the next ten days or so, Bradley Cooper will have starred in three of the four biggest grossing R-rated films ever, with Sniper joining The Hangover and The Hangover Part II on that list.

And remember all the talk of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1 overtaking Guardians of the Galaxy as 2014’s biggest grossing movie? Well…start the clock. American Sniper did open on Christmas Day 2014, so if it overtakes Mockingjay‘s $334.5 million domestic gross, we have a new chart champion for the year people.

Did anyone honestly see Sniper shaping up to be this big of a hit?

J. Lo is Back!

Well kinda.

BoyNextDoorI don’t know how far to wander down this road, but to be blunt – Jennifer Lopez’s The Boy Next Door was largely touted, by the actress herself, as a sexy, erotic thriller featuring Lopez performing all of her own nude scenes in the movie. In this instant gratification culture of ours, that was enough to open the film nearly four times in the black, as the $4 million production started with $14.9 million in its first three days. Nevermind that Lopez does not technically appear nude in the film, that is left to a different actress and co-star Ryan Guzman, but nonetheless, Lopez drew some folks to the theater with her boasts and the film will likely finish near $40 million in domestic gross.

The Boy Next Door is Lopez’s biggest non-animated opening in almost ten years when Monster-In-Law opened in 2005 with $23 million. Lopez has never been a bonafide box office superstar, she has yet to appear in a live action film that grossed over $100 million, but as a producer on the film, she saw a healthy ROI on a film lambasted by critics (and rightfully so…) for its absolute silliness.

Strange Magic and Mortdecai? Among the Worst of All Time.

Strange Magic and Mortdecai were dead in the water and this weekend was essentially the equivalent of Disney and Lionsgate waiting to find out what bad news their doctors discovered on their test results.

George Lucas’ teaming with Disney earned Strange Magic $5.5 million in its opening frame and the honor of scoring the worst wide release animated opening of all time. Despite withholding footage from critics and keeping details close to the vest, exhibitors inexplicably bought into the possibilities of a January animated movie musical turning out families and Magic opened with 3,020 screens. Expectedly, with strong word-of-mouth, audiences returned or gave their attention to the wonderful Paddington (receding just 35%) and Magic had the rug pulled right out beneath its feet.

mortdecai-620x348Mortdecai landed Lionsgate the worst start in the studio’s history for films opening on more than 2,500 screens. It’s paltry $4.2 million start could mean the $60 million production banks barely $10 million in North America by the time it closes.

Hey Blackhat? You best make some room on that bench over there.

For Johnny Depp, Mortdecai opened smaller than his recent non-franchise or adaptation-based box office busts Transcendence, The Rum Diary and The Tourist. While it may seem unfair to pin this squarely on Depp’s shoulders, the film does feature Gwyneth Paltrow and Ewan McGregor among its ensemble, Lionsgate built this peculiar action/comedy completely around Depp’s character, although he refused to work the circuit to promote the film.

Depp will not appear in a film until September, when he stars in Scott Cooper’s anticipated Untitled Whitey Bulger Film, alongside Benedict Cumberbatch, Sienna Miller, and Dakota Johnson, to name a few. If Depp is making a move back to serious, prestige-style roles which he has seemingly veered away from, perhaps things can turn around for him. Otherwise, I suppose we have Alice In Wonderland 2 and Pirates of the Caribbean 5 to look forward to in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Beyond The Top 10

Jennifer Aniston’s long cooling Cake finally premiered before paying audiences and the results were disappointing. With a per screen average south of $2,000, the film grossed just $916k for upstart studio CineLou Films. All the Oscar buzz and word-of-mouth simply didn’t translate to ticket sales when Aniston failed to land a Best Actress nomination. Hopefully, this will not deter her from more dramatic or serious-minded fare going forward as, while the movie may have its detractors, her performance was seen as a reinvention of her career.

Oscar contenders Birdman and The Theory of Everything re-expanded and saw increases of 25% and 30% respectively.

Two films expected to bring home acting Oscars next month, Whiplash (J.K. Simmons, Best Supporting Actor) and Still Alice (Julianne Moore, Best Actress) saw their individual expansions increase business by more than 100% from the previous weekend. After 16 weeks, Whiplash has grossed $7.6 million and Alice has banked $715k in its two official weekends of release.

Next Weekend: Race vs. Sex vs. Science!

Black or White

black_or_whiteSimilar to Jennifer Aniston’s Cake, Kevin Costner’s Black or White (click to read Joey Magidson’s early review) actually received a one-week Oscar qualifying run in December and screeners saturated the voters, all in an effort by Relativity to get into the Oscar race. It didn’t work. And now, the paying public will have a chance to finally see this racially-tinged custody drama where Oscar winners Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer play dueling grandparents attempting to win custody of their widowed granddaughter.

The Loft

Not screened for critics, The Loft appears to be a film released to cash in a couple weeks ahead of the Fifty Shades of Grey madness that will dominate pop-culture headlines in February. This “loft” is apparently a penthouse in “The City” where a group of men schedule trysts and secret sexual encounters their spouses never know about. All is well and good until a woman ends up murdered in “The Loft” and the inhabitants of “The Loft”must try and decipher who among them may be responsible.

Someone found Wentworth Miller (!?!) and he joins a cast consisting of James Marsden and Karl Urban.

Project Almanac

A handful of notable critics have endorsed Project Almanac, a teenager-driven science fiction tale about a group of kids who find an apparent time machine and play loose and fast with what it can do. Things obviously take a turn for the worse and the good times become dangerous, but if this is any good at all, Paramount could have a hit on par with Chronicle, which opened on this same weekend in 2012.

Also, like Chronicle, this is a found footage film. And per a Wikipedia search, this would be approximately the 75th found footage film released in theaters or on VOD since 2010.

Seventy. Five.

The Top 10 Grossing Films for the Week Ending January 25, 2015

1. American Sniper (Warner Bros.)
$64.6 million, $200.4 million total, 5 weeks, -28% (3,705 screens).

2. The Boy Next Door (Universal)
$14.9 million, $14.9 million total, NEW (2,602 screens).

3. Paddington (Weinstein/Dimension)
$12.3 million, $39.9 million total, -35% (3,355 screens).

4. The Wedding Ringer (Screen Gems)
$11.3 million, $39.4 million total, 2 weeks, -45% (3,003 screens)

5. Taken 3 
(20th Century Fox)
$7.4 million, $75.9 million total, 3 weeks, -50% (2,909 screens).

6. The Imitation Game (Weinstein Company)
$6.9 million, $60.5 million total, 9 weeks, +2% (2,025 screens).

7. Strange Magic (Buena Vista)
$5.5 million, $5.5 million total, NEW (3,020 screens).

8. Selma (Warner Bros.)
$5.4 million, $39.1 million total, 5 weeks, -38% (2,046 screens).

9. Mortdecai (Lionsgate)
$4.2 million, $4.2 million total, NEW (2,648 screens).

10. Into the Woods (Buena Vista)
$3.9 million, $121.5 million total, 5 weeks, -43% (2,270 screens).

Domestic and international figures are actualized on Monday afternoons (excluding 4-day weekends) and courtesy of BoxOfficeMojo.com and other news outlets.

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My love of film began at the age of 7 when my parents not only gave me a television, but HBO to boot. My first theatrical experience was "E.T." My first movie cry came with "Old Yeller". "The Usual Suspects" made me decide to make movies and film writing a priority in life, even knowing the twist beforehand. My passion for film, music, and pop culture in general can be isolated to my youth. My love for film took root in high school. Above all else, movies and art, in any form, exist to entertain and I remain much more interested in how art affects others, more than with myself. But I love the conversation and to have a chance to share my thoughts and be a part of the community here is a unique and enriching experience.