Weekend Box Office (March 6 - 8, 2015)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND The robot film Chappie led a crappy North American box office with a number one debut that was nothing to be happy about. The R-rated action pic bowed to an estimated $13.3M from 3,201 locations (including 358 IMAX screens) and averaged a soft $4,155. It was the worst gross for a number one film since Halloween while the top ten slumped to its lowest point since early December.

Starring Hugh Jackman, Dev Patel, and Sigourney Weaver, Chappie skewed 60% male and 57% under 30, according to studio data. Reviews were generally negative which hurt. Those polled by CinemaScore gave a lukewarm B grade to this Sony title which never generated much consumer interest at all. Produced for $49M, and unlikely to reach that amount in domestic grosses, Chappie will need substantial success overseas to break even. The international cast and crew will certainly help in that regard.

March came in like a lamb with box office sales slumping to the worst showing of 2015 so far. But girlpower muscles will be flexed soon with next weekend's fairy tale epic Cinderella followed a week later by the sci-fi sequel Divergent so expect this month to go out like a lion.

Dropping from first to second was the Will Smith flick Focus with an estimated $10M in its sophomore frame. The 46% decline was reasonable but Warner Bros. has banked only $34.6M after two weekends which is on the low side for the actor. Even his 2008 flop Seven Pounds grossed more in its first ten days. Focus looks on course to end with $57M which would be Smith's worst-grossing film since 2000's The Legend of Bagger Vance.

Debuting in third place was the comedy sequel The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel with an estimated $8.6M from 1,573 locations for a $5,467 average. The Fox Searchlight release played to a mature audience and brought back the stars from the first film including Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, and Dev Patel while adding Richard Gere.

Scoring the highest average among all wide releases, the PG-rated film earned reviews which were generally positive and saw a B+ grade from CinemaScore. Next weekend will see another 200 locations being added to the run. The first film, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel platformed in 27 theaters in May 2012 before expanding out to nearly 1,300 theaters nationwide ending with a $46.4M domestic total.

Successful winter films followed. Fox's Kingsman: The Secret Service eased 30% to an estimated $8.3M boosting the domestic cume to near the century mark at $98M. Kidpic The SpongeBob Movie followed with an estimated $7M, off 35%, giving Paramount $149M to date. Global stands at $259.4M.

Worldwide phenomenon Fifty Shades of Grey dropped 47% to an estimated $5.6M for a new domestic haul of $156.4M while Universal's global tally rose to a stellar $527.7M. Fading fast, look for a final of just under $600M which will be fantastic. Kevin Costner's McFarland, USA followed dipping 32% to an estimated $5.3M putting Disney at $29.4M.

Tumbling 50% in its sophomore frame was the supernatural thriller The Lazarus Effect which collected an estimated $5.1M landing it at $17.4M to date. Hit high school comedy The DUFF eased just 29% in its third round to an estimated $4.9M for a cume of $26.1M.

Vince Vaughn continued his tumble out of box office relevancy with his latest comedy Unfinished Business which barely made the top ten opening to a dismal $4.8M, according to estimates. The Fox release averaged a poor $1,728 from 2,777 locations and marked the former star's fourth consecutive flop after The Watch, The Internship, and Delivery Man which all opened in the $8-17M range.

Poor reviews slammed Business and its B- CinemaScore indicates that paying audiences were not too satisfied with what they got. Moviegoers no longer see Vaughn as an appealing comedy anchor and he will need quality projects that actually deliver laughs in order to return to his old form. He enjoyed six $30M+ openings from 2004 to 2009. R-rated comedies in general have underperformed over the past year and Hollywood will need to up its game if it wants to mine the riches that can come from this genre.

Bumped out of the top ten after a seven-week stay, Clint Eastwood's smash hit American Sniper achieved yet another milestone as it surpassed The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 to become the highest-grossing domestic hit to come out of 2014. Over 99% of its current cume of $337.2M came in 2015, but still to beat out all the tentpoles, super hero flicks, and big-budget behemoths of last year is an amazing accomplishment. Worldwide, Sniper has just smashed $500M with more still to come. The domestic portion should finish in the neighborhood of $350M which is more than double Eastwood's previous career high of $148.1M for Gran Torino.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $72.9M which was down a steep 43% from last year when 300: Rise of an Empire opened at number one with $45M; and down 42% from 2013 when Oz the Great and Powerful debuted on top with $79.1M.

Compared to projections, Chappie and Unfinished Business both opened a couple of notches below my respective forecasts of $16M and $7M.

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Watch the NEW trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Be sure to check back on Monday for final figures and again on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Cinderella and Run All Night open.

# Title Mar 6 - 8 Feb 27 - Mar 1 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Chappie $ 13,346,782 3,201 1 $ 4,170 $ 13,346,782 Sony
2 Focus 10,007,276 18,685,137 -46.4 3,323 2 3,012 34,560,772 Warner Bros.
3 Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 8,540,370 1,573 1 5,429 8,540,370 Fox Searchlight
4 Kingsman: The Secret Service 8,313,476 11,880,077 -30.0 3,101 4 2,681 98,041,226 Fox
5 The SpongeBob Movie 6,663,712 10,820,212 -38.4 3,097 5 2,152 148,656,571 Paramount
6 Fifty Shades of Grey 5,520,513 10,555,195 -47.7 2,788 4 1,980 156,364,325 Universal
7 McFarland, USA 5,222,630 7,835,205 -33.3 2,792 3 1,871 29,331,061 Disney
8 The Lazarus Effect 5,076,424 10,203,437 -50.2 2,666 2 1,904 17,376,740 Relativity
9 The DUFF 4,788,127 6,866,102 -30.3 2,559 3 1,871 26,054,203 Lionsgate
10 Unfinished Business 4,772,613 2,777 1 1,719 4,772,613 Fox
11 American Sniper 4,401,391 7,394,293 -40.5 2,545 11 1,729 337,100,370 Warner Bros.
12 Still Alice 1,651,000 2,695,000 -38.7 1,197 8 1,379 14,723,000 Sony Classics
13 Paddington 1,263,985 1,810,591 -30.2 1,135 8 1,114 72,063,853 Weinstein Co.
14 The Imitation Game 1,119,243 1,871,815 -40.2 862 15 1,298 88,441,916 Weinstein Co.
15 Jupiter Ascending 1,117,047 2,127,082 -47.5 943 5 1,185 45,016,323 Warner Bros.
16 A La Mala 828,189 1,402,118 -40.9 384 2 2,157 2,577,494 Lionsgate
17 Birdman 718,199 1,923,460 -62.7 777 21 924 41,535,026 Fox Searchlight
18 Hot Tub Time Machine 2 540,072 2,443,538 -77.9 900 3 600 11,814,937 Paramount
19 Selma 372,367 447,355 -16.8 270 11 1,379 50,965,872 Paramount
20 The Wedding Ringer 344,028 579,668 -40.7 310 8 1,110 63,514,117 Sony
Top 5 $ 46,871,616 $ 62,144,058 -24.6
Top 10 72,251,923 89,378,196 -19.2
Top 20 84,607,444 101,425,611 -16.6
Top 20 vs. 2014 84,607,444 138,465,436 -38.9

Last Updated: March 8, 2015 at 3:10PM ET

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