Weekend Box Office (February 14 - 17, 2014)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Four new releases and a rock solid holdover cartoon brought out large crowds to North American theaters over the Presidents Day frame which should end up with the best performance for the holiday session in four years. Leading the chart for the second weekend in a row was the animated hit The LEGO Movie with an estimated $63.5M over the long Friday-to-Monday span dropping a low 28% from its record opening over the three-day portion.

After just 11 days, the PG-rated hit has grossed a sensational $143.8M making it the top-grossing film of 2014. Warner Bros. looks on course to finish its domestic run in the neighborhood of $250M which would be a remarkable accomplishment for a toon outside of the key play periods of summer and holiday.

Word-of-mouth was strong, reviews have been awesome, and no new movies opened for families so LEGO easily dominated the marketplace for a second time. Mid-week business is expected to be solid as many schools nationwide will be closed for winter break. It may approach $190M after next weekend.

Red hot comic Kevin Hart delivered his second hit comedy in as many months with the date flick About Last Night which debuted to muscular numbers with an estimated $28.5M from 2,253 locations for a fantastic $12,650 four-day average. The Sony release was the only R-rated pic among the weekend's four new titles and also grossed the most money. Reviews for the remake of the 1986 Rob Lowe-Demi Moore film were quite strong.

Mature women drove the success as studio research showed that the audience was 63% female and 57% over 30. With the opening day also being Valentine's Day, Friday registered a massive $13M in ticket sales which slightly edged out LEGO that day. Hart's brand of humor has been extremely popular and his lead roles in About Last Night and last month's Ride Along will lead to over $200M in combined domestic grosses. 2014 is a breakout box office year for him, much like 1994 was for Jim Carrey.

Another 80s remake from Sony, the futuristic action thriller RoboCop, stumbled into third place with less firepower than the studio was hoping for. The PG-13 pic debuted to an estimated $25.6M from 3,372 locations including IMAX venues averaging $7,592 per site over four days. With its soft mid-week launch on Wednesday, the six-day cume was only $30.5M. The studio was publicly expecting it to reach the $35-40M range.

The performance was below the levels of other 1980s action properties recently recycled for today's audiences. Exactly one year ago, the sequel A Good Day to Die Hard bowed to $36.9M over five days during the same holiday weekend and 2012's Total Recall debuted to $25.6M over a regular summer frame.

Young male action fans used to be the bread and butter of Hollywood. But today, they are much harder to attract to multiplexes except with huge sequels or superhero films. In fact, very few male-skewing action movies have overperformed at the domestic box office over the past year with an alarmingly high number flopping. The upside is that these films, like RoboCop, often perform well overseas and later on video platforms.

Budgeted at about $100M, RoboCop earned lackluster reviews from critics and played to an older male crowd. Studio research showed that 62% of the crowd was male and 64% was over 25. Overseas, the metal man took in $35M from 76 markets this weekend boosting the international total to $70M with the worldwide box office breaking $100M Monday.

Sony also owned fourth place with The Monuments Men which dropped a reasonable 30% in its sophomore frame to an estimated $18M. The George Clooney period drama has banked $46.7M to date and could be headed for the vicinity of $80M.

Teen girls and young women powered the new romance Endless Love putting it into fifth place with an estimated $15.1M. The Universal release averaged a decent $5,200 from 2,896 sites and was driven by Valentine's Day business on Friday which accounted for a whopping 55% of the three-day weekend gross. The PG-13 film played to one quadrant as studio data showed the audience to be 80% female and 76% under 25. The CinemaScore was a good A-.

Kevin Hart made his second appearance in the top ten with his other smash hit Ride Along. The comedy displayed tremendous strength in its fifth weekend easing a scant 9% to an estimated $10M boosting the total to date to a stellar $117.4M. Many Hart fans sold out of About Last Night had the option of checking out this one. Universal could be on its way to $140M or more making Ride Along a bigger hit than Will Ferrell's recent heavily hyped comedy sequel Anchorman 2.

Striking out with audiences over Valentine's Day weekend was the critically-panned romance Winter's Tale starring Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe, and Jennifer Connelly which settled for a seventh place opening. The Warner Bros. pic grossed an estimated $8.1M from 2,965 theaters for a weak $2,732 average. Reviews were terrible and the B CinemaScore indicated that ticket buyers were only modestly satisfied.

Frozen, the highest-grossing original toon of all-time, dipped 10% to an estimated $8.1M and ended an amazing streak of 11 consecutive weekends in the top five. The Disney smash upped its total to $378.3M putting it at number 22 on the all-time domestic blockbusters list right ahead of the $377M of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The worldwide tally soared to $957M and is less than two weeks away from breaking the coveted billion dollar barrier.

Universal's Lone Survivor followed with an estimated $4.7M, down 26%, for a new total of $119M. Rounding out the top ten was the comedy That Awkward Moment which fell 35% to an estimated $3.9M for a sum to date of $21.9M for Focus.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $185.4M over four days which was up 29% from last year when A Good Day to Die Hard opened at number one with $28.6M; and up 13% from 2012 when Safe House took the top spot in its second round with $27.5M.

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Check the box office chart of Oscar nominations and grosses.

For a review of Monuments Men visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Tuesday for final figures and again on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when 3 Days to Kill and Pompeii both open.


Last Updated: February 17, 2014 at 12:45PM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Thursday at 6:40pm ET.

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