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Box Office: 'Godzilla' Destroys Box Office, but What About 'Million Dollar Arm'?

Thompson on Hollywood By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood May 18, 2014 at 2:16PM

Warner Bros.' "Godzilla" reboot took in more than half of the Top 10 gross this weekend, and became the third $90 million-plus opener since early April. The haul brought the total gross for these films to $169 million, a decent jump from $146 million last year -- when "Iron Man 3" was king of the box office. The strength of 2013's late May releases, which included "Fast and Furious 6," "Hangover 3" and "Epic," may be tough to match.
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'Million Dollar Arm'
'Million Dollar Arm'

4. Million Dollar Arm (Buena Vista) NEW - Cinemascore: A-; Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 52

$10,511,000 in 3,019 theaters; PSA: $3,482; Cumulative: $10,511,000

Disney has been touting advance research screenings of this fish-out-of-water baseball story as being among the best in their history, which set up expectations for possible sleeper success and a summer hit somewhat outside of their norm as an original, more adult-oriented story. They got their adults in -- the audience was a majority over 35, 73% 26-plus. They also got a gross (along the range of last-minute predictions) around expectations. What we don't have though yet is a clear sign that this will be successful. The figure is only slightly better than the most recent sports-themed release (Lionsgate's "Draft Day" with Kevin Costner, which managed to only get to the mid 20s for its run), and behind "Moneyball" ($19.8 million, which became a sizable success ultimately) and even "Trouble With the Curve," which turned out to be a real disappointment. The last baseball-set hit was "42" last year, which played off its biofilm core to reach almost $100 million.

The A- Cinemascore suggests a decent response, and the history of successful sports films as well as those with older audiences is that they end up frequently with a higher multiple from opening weekend during their runs (for most films, 3X considered standard). But even with a modest $25 million budget, with equivalent marketing costs and lesser foreign prospects because of its American sport subject (though it is set in India, adding some extra interest) this has a long way to go to match the expectations Disney set up (it likely needs at least a $50 million domestic take, probably more).

The creative team included director Craig Gillespie, whose eclectic career has included "Mr. Woodcock," Lars and the Real Girl" and "Fright Night," with Tom McCarthy, director of "The Station Agent," "The Visitor" and "Win Win" as the writer (he also contributed to "Up"), and Mad Man's Jon Hamm as the lead. Hamm's previous successes in film have been in supporting roles ("Bridesmaids," "The Town"). Veteran Joe Roth (currently also with "Heaven Is for Real" in play) was a producer.

What comes next: Next weekend will be a better indication of this film's future, more than most second ones.

5. The Other Woman (20th Century Fox) Week 4 - Last weekend #3

$6,300,000 (-34%) in 3,054 theaters (-252); PSA: $2,063; Cumulative: $71,664,000

Falling about a third shows continued appeal for this surprisingly successful female comedy, looking like it could be headed to $200 million worldwide on an initial budget of $40 million.

What comes next: This should stay in play for a few more weeks to get it to about $100 million domestic.

6. Heaven Is for Real (Sony) Week 5 - Last weekend #4

$4,400,000 (-41%) in 2,893 theaters (-155); PSA: $1,521; Cumulative: $82,249,000

After three weeks of overperforming and holding extremely well, "Heaven" came down to earth a bit this time around, but still with a modest drop and nothing standing in the way of its achieving one of the best gross to production ratios of the year (this only cost $12 million) even with international returns likely to be not quite in the same league.

What comes next: This should play well into June, far longer than seemed likely before it was released.

7. Rio 2 (20th Century Fox) Week 6- Last weekend #6

$3,800,000 (-%) in 2,371 theaters (-602); PSA: $1,603; Cumulative: $118,051,000

The small drop -- it helps to  be the lead animated film around in the 6th week -- led to a PSA barely reduced from last week (the drop in gross is about the same as that for loss of theaters, meaning those films holding grossed about the same). This is a decent domestic performer, but the big news is the international take - this now looks like it should combined exceed $500 million.

What comes next: "Rio 3" hasn't been set yet, but expect Fox to try to play off of the 2016 Olympics to be held there.

8. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Buena Vista) Week 7- Last weekend #5

$3,759,000 (-35%) in 2,271 theaters (-430); PSA: $1,655; Cumulative: $250,627,000

Note that the drop here was smaller than "Spider-Man" with "Godzilla" opening, another sign of the strength of this Marvel smash, now at a combined $703 million worldwide.

What comes next: This is nearing the end of its Top 10 run, but the year's biggest hit so far looks even better for having opened in April and boosting both its chances and the health of the business overall.

9. Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return (Clarius) Week 2 - Last weekend #8

$ (-48%) in 2,578 theaters (-80); PSA: $757; Cumulative: $6,599,000

Falling more than most second weekend's for animated films, and then from a weak level, this not inexpensive independent effort looks head for losses for all involved.

What comes next: This should serve as a warning for those who think animated films are a license to print money, even if they involve name brands.

10. Mom's Night Out (Sony) Week 2 - Last weekend #7

$1,900,000 (-56%) in 1,046 theaters (+2); PSA: $1,816; Cumulative: $7,327,000

Though this had similar faith-based marketing and production ties that helped "Heaven Is for Real" and "God's Not Dead," the comedy and more female orientation may have made it less vital to its intended audience. Even though its smaller theater count (intentionally targeting specific theaters and regions) in part accounts for the small gross, the minor second weekend PSA and big drop shows that this just never caught on.

What comes next: With a $5 million budget and smaller than usual marketing expense, this won't be a major loss even though it will be one of the smallest studio gross totals of the year.


This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office Top Ten, Box Office Top Ten, Box Office


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