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Box Office Top Ten: DreamWorks Scores Hit & Miss, 'Veronica Mars' Scores Day-and-Date Landmark, 'Grand Budapest' Soars

Box Office
by Tom Brueggemann
March 16, 2014 2:18 PM
3 Comments
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"Veronica Mars"

4. "Non-Stop" (Universal) Week 3 - Last weekend #3

$10,600,000 (-33%) in 3,183 theaters (+70); PSA: $3,335; Cumulative: $68,800,000

Coverage of the missing Malaysian plane provided real-life competition for this Liam Neeson-airline suspenser, which had a normal drop to keep it in decent if not great position for its third weekend. This isn't holding nearly as well as its prototype "Taken," which opened lower than "Non-Stop" but was already at $77 million at the same point of its release.

What comes next: Universal's domestic release of this pickup looks like a success, with once again the ultimate international haul, where it has been rolling out more slowly, set to determine whether this could become a second Neeson-centered franchise.

5. "Tyler Perry's Single Mom's Club" (Lionsgate) NEW - Cinemascore: A-; Criticwire: D; Metacritic: 30

$8,300,000 in 1,896 theaters; PSA: $4,378; Cumulative: $8,300,000

Lionsgate and Tyler Perry have had a great run together since 2007, but the weakness of this opening -- the least of any of their joint efforts -- explains why they recently announced that other than projects already committed they are ending their exclusive partnership. "Daddy's Little Girl" early in the deal at $11 million was the previous low opener. This is also a rare effort to open as low as #5. It comes despite apparent positive audience response (A- Cinemascore). The audience though is limited -- 79% female and 80% over 25 among signs of little crossover appeal.

What comes next: It has been a lucrative arrangement for both sides (it also included Perry's overseeing of Lionsgate's release of "Precious") but the signs of declining audience interest have been apparent of late. Even with the lower (secret) budget of these films, this level of gross is below what is needed to sustain two to three new films a year.

6. "The Lego Movie" (Warner Bros.) Week 6 - Last weekend #4

$7,705,000 (-30%) in 3,040 theaters (-250); PSA: $2,535; Cumulative: $236,932,000

This continues to hold well, and looks to possibly overtake "Gravity"'s domestic gross as best among Warners' recent hits.

What comes next: Springs vacations and the usual than average holds for kids' films should keep this around for about a month more.

7. "Son of God" (Twentieth Century Fox) Week 3 - Last weekend #5

$5,400,000 (-48%) in 2,990 theaters (-281); PSA: $1,806; Cumulative: $50,875,000

$50 million + is impressive for what is basically found money (marketing costs the main expense for this theatrical version of a TV miniseries). The drop suggests it won't be able to play easily until the possible boost leading up to Easter next month, but even so, this looks like win for all involved.

What comes next: A long life on DVD and cable after theatrical is done.

8. "The Grand Budapest Hotel" (Fox Searchlight) Week 2 - Last weekend #17

$3,640,000 (+349%) in theaters (+66); PSA: $55,152; Cumulative: $4,779,000

Last weekend's record-breaking opening for Wes Anderson's latest film wasn't a fluke (which was the case when Weinstein expanded "The Master" after stunning initial grosses). The $55,000 PSA would be considered excellent for four initial theaters. For 66, it's stratospheric. The most recent film to compare would be the third week expansion of "Zero Dark Thirty" post New Year's-2013, which in 60 theaters had a PSA of $45,000 (on its way to almost $100 million, aided by Oscar nominations). More significantly, the $55,000 PSA is just above what Anderson's previous hit, "Moonrise Kingdom," achieved in its second weekend in only 16 (with the larger number of theaters  for "Budapest" making its greater result particularly impressive).  We are in uncharted territory, more so for this early in the year, but this will be a significant crossover specialized success.

What comes next: Fox Searchlight's biggest concern now is managing their achievement and resisting the demands of exhibitors to expand quickly. This remains a somewhat limited audience/niche film, but at this point it seems likely to exceed "Moonrise Kingdom"'s $46 million domestic take (which was enhanced by summer playtime and multi-month play that came from strong word of mouth). Forty new markets will be added this week for a total of around 300 theaters.

9. "Frozen" (Buena Vista) Week 17 - Last weekend #8

$2,117,000 (-28%) in 1,466 theaters (-194); PSA: $1,444; Cumulative: $396,356,000

Its 16th Top 10 week is no threat to the modern record holder ("Titanic" at 26), but otherwise this stands alone as a recurrent entry as Disney's Oscar winner heads toward its inevitable $400 million domestic total.

What comes next: This might be its last time in the Top 10, but it still might have $10 million or more to add to its heft.

10. "Veronica Mars" (Warner Bros.) NEW - Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 62

$2,021,000 in 291 theaters; PSA: $6,944; Cumulative: $2,021,000

This is the best gross, though not best PSA, for a film released in theaters while also available on Video on Demand outlets. Warner Bros. paid for theaters (mainly from AMC, the one major nationwide exhibitor willing to take their money), which means all the gross reverts to them. It isn't an inexpensive proposition -- the rental deals aren't known, and with $2.5 million for the full week being a good guess, not where most of the earnings for this will likely come. Since details of download receipts aren't yet known, it's hard to make a judgment on whether this is a success. The gross suggests that about 250,000 fans of the TV show (updated by creator Rob Thomas with most of the original cast after a successful Kickstarter financing campaign) were willing to see something that they could also have purchased. This isn't in itself a big number, but the theatrical play plus all the additional media attention might have enhanced interest in the other venues. We await further details.

What comes next: Warners will need to decide how many screens to continue to rent with AMC. At this point, the total gross looks like it could come in under $4 million, far less than the $7.9 million reached by "Arbitrage" (Roadside Attractions) it its multi-week mostly mixed theatrical/VOD run.

3 Comments

  • Bill | March 16, 2014 3:34 PMReply

    Another factual error:

    "With a budget over $140 million before marketing costs, this remains a work in progress (a worldwide total of over $300 million will be needed to contribute to ultimate profit)."

    $300M for profitability? Nope. If you assume, very conservatively, the marketing spend for this movie was $100M globally, then the real number for profitability is closer to $500M.

  • Bill | March 16, 2014 3:29 PMReply

    "...another weak effort from DreamWorks' live action division. Other than "Lincoln," they haven't had a non-animated film (this side of their company is released through Buena Vista)..."

    Are you aware that DreamWorks and DreamWorks Animation are separate companies now? They have no formal relationship with one another. This is a huge factual error. DreamWorks is privately held and DreamWorks Animation is publicly held.

  • xtab | March 16, 2014 2:55 PMReply

    Tom: As a former booker for Ritz Philly, any word on the grosses for Budapest at the Ritz Five? To the best of my knowledge, no movie ever opened on all five screens at this theater.

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