By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist March 30, 2014 at 12:05PM
There were concerns about whether or not the crucial faith-based audience would buy tickets, and Paramount was choosy about who got to see Darren Aronofsky's grim, dark and bleak "Noah" in advance, but there's no doubt ticket buyers were curious, with the biblical tale taking in over $40 million this weekend. It's easily the director's best opening of his career, and a decent shot in the arm for the reported $125 million movie, which is also doing solid business overseas (it has already earned $51 million abroad). But still questionable are the legs it will have over the next few weeks, and the signs aren't that good.
Not only will "Noah" have to survive "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," which arrives in North American theaters next week (having already taken over $70 million internationally), it seems that word of mouth may also dampen the momentum. Aronofsky's movie earned a rather tepid C from moviegoers, and it's hardly a surprise. This isn't your friendly, white-bearded Noah calmly loading animals on the ark. Violent (we wonder how many rounds of edits this had to go through to get a PG-13 rating), heavy and despairing—this is not going to make it to Sunday School classrooms or even be advisable viewing for young kids. This is a very adult take, and headed into a spring/early summer with lighter entertainment options, "Noah" may sink at the U.S. box office, with Paramount hoping it can ride it out overseas.
Speaking of Cinemascores, while it totally tanked, earning about $5 million, ticket buyers did give better thumbs to "Sabotage," giving it a B grade. But that might be from the few fans who bothered to show up for this one, with opening even worse than Arnold Schwarzenegger's last solo effort "The Last Stand" (and the actor's worst since "Red Sonja"—ouch). We can't imagine Paramount is looking at this with any sort of pleasure as they gear up "Terminator: Genesis" for next summer, but then again, it's a major franchise vehicle that finds Arnie back in one of his most iconic roles. Hopefully those headed to the multiplex will find that to be a bit more exciting.
Elsewhere, YA franchise starter "Divergent" was bumped to number two, but is maintaining nicely. While it took a 51% drop, the performance of the movie is actually stronger than "Twilight" was in its second weekend, and with a better hold compared to "The Hunger Games," which lost 62% of its audience from the first weekend to the second. In short, it looks like "Divergent" has captured the audience it was aiming for and has a solid future ahead of it.
"300: Rise Of An Empire" continues to do solid business, becoming the third movie of 2014 to cross the "$100 million threshold. In short, this is a success for Warner Bros. and now we'll just wait for the inevitable announcement of a third movie. Also headed toward that golden $100 million mark is "Mr. Peabody & Sherman," which finishes this weekend just a few million shy of the target. It will get there next weekend.
Speaking of milestones, this weekend "Frozen" became the highest-grossing animated movie of all time, with $1,072,400 in the bank and counting.
In limited release, "The Grand Budapest Hotel" continues to go hard with $8.8 million this weekend (the best in Wes Anderson's career) and the film's limited release plan is working out swimmingly with the picture in the top ten (even though it's still in less than 1,000 theaters). It fell just behind the-faith based drama "God's Not Dead," which continues to a spring surprise, clearly nailing its demographic with audience dropping a mere 2%. "Cesar Chavez" quietly rolled into limited release too, with $3 million keeping it just outside the top ten. Lastly, in seven theaters, "The Raid 2" took home $177,000 with a per-screen count of $25.5 thousand or so.
1. Noah $44 million
2. Divergent $26.5 million ($95 mil.)
3. Muppets Most Wanted $11.3 million ($33. 2 mil.)
4. Mr. Peabody & Sherman $9.5 million ($94.9 mil.)
5. God's Not Dead $9 million ($22 mil.)
6. The Grand Budapest Hotel $8.8 million ($24.4 mil.)
7. Sabotage $5.3 million
8. Need For Speed $4.3 million ($37.7 mil.)
9. 300: Rise Of An Empire $4.3 million ($101.1 mil.)
10. Non-Stop $4 million ($85.1 mil.)