By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood March 15, 2014 at 2:01PM
A three-way race for the weekend #1 started off with the DreamWorks video game adaptation "Need for Speed" (distributed by Buena Vista) on top with $6.64 million. But either #2, "300: Rise of an Empire" (Warner Bros.) with $5.8 million, or more likely "Mr. Peabody and Sherman" (20th Century-Fox), at $5.45 million could overtake "Speed" by the time final results are in on Monday. Both "300" and "Peabody" are in their second week. With its family-based audience likely moving it ahead -- and with an expected drop of only around a third for its second weekend -- odds favor "Peabody."
"Speed"'s gross includes over $1 million for Thursday night shows, and if we excluded those numbers, it would land at just about #2 for Friday. Whatever its standing, it clearly outgrossed the other new entry, #4 "The Single Mom's Club" (Lionsgate) from Tyler Perry, which managed $3.2 million, putting it in a tie with "Non-Stop" (Universal), holding well in its third weekend.
This mixed bag of numbers brought the Top 10 to around $30 million, up from this same day last year, although for the full weekend it could be a close call for the string of box office upticks, which began at Thanksgiving, to continue. #6 "The Lego Movie" (Warner Bros.) managed over $2 million (barely), with #7 "Son of God" (20th Century-Fox) at $1.45 million.
The lower-end weakness allowed two more limited films to enter the top 10. In only 66 theaters, Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel" (Fox Searchlight) did nearly $1.1 million for #8. This outstanding one-day total for so few theaters indicates that the film's record-setting limited runs last week were no fluke.
Playing at 291 four-walled (rented) theaters -- mainly AMC's, in an effort to get around the major circuit boycott of films also released on VOD platforms -- Warner Bros' "Veronica Mars" took in a decent $1 million, although just under 30% of that came from Thursday late-night shows, suggesting this might be front-loaded. The gross, though, should end up good enough to beat previous day-and-date parallel releases for a first weekend.
Sony's "The Monuments Men," just under $600,000, made #10 for the day, but likely will be displaced for the weekend by "Frozen" (Buena Vista) which took in a little over $500,000.