Weekend Box Office (August 22 - 24, 2014)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Marvel's misfit heroes were once again the most popular outlaws in North American theaters as the franchise-launching blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy held up exceptionally well in its fourth frame to reclaim the number one spot. The Disney release dipped only 32% to $17.2M, according to final studio figures, which was enough to surpass all competitors this weekend.

Galaxy lifted its cume to a stellar $251.5M making it the highest-grossing film of the summer zooming past the $243.8M of Transformers: Age of Extinction. It will also be the only member of the quarter-billion club this summer - an unusually low number for the most lucrative season of the year. Last summer had four.

By this Friday, Guardians will pass Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The LEGO Movie to become the top-grossing hit for all of 2014. With good legs, strong word-of-mouth, and the Labor Day holiday coming next week, Guardians of the Galaxy looks well on its way to breaking $300M at the domestic box office.

Overseas fans are also catching on to Groot and pals. The international cume rose to $237.6M pushing the global gross to an impressive $489M with the half-billion barrier ready to crumble by week's end. Four key territories are still to open including Germany next weekend, Japan next month, Italy in October as well as China which has not received a release date from the government yet. Surpassing $700M this fall should be easy with a sequel slated to arrive in July 2017.

Following its two-week run on top, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles slipped to second with $16.7M dropping a decent 41%. The total puts Paramount at a robust $145.5M making it the highest-grossing film ever for the franchise although the $135.3M of the first film from 1990 sold about twice as many tickets. Finishing in the $180-190M range domestically seems likely. Overseas markets have brought in $93.2M (led by Russia's superb $25.4M) giving Ninja Turtles a global tally of $239M so far with most key markets still to open.

The teen romance If I Stay enjoyed a respectable opening weekend in third place with $15.7M leading all newcomers. The one-quadrant film tapped into teen girls and young women, especially those who were fans of the best-selling novel. Averaging a good $5,394 from 2,907 theaters, the Chloë Grace Moretz-starrer skewed 77% female and 61% under 25, according to studio research.

The tearjerker actually debuted at number one on Friday but a sharp 18% Saturday decline led to a weekend performance that could not match the big-budget franchise holdovers. Reviews were mixed for the PG-13 entry but audiences polled by CinemaScore gave a nice A- grade. With few exciting options for young women lately, Stay connected with an adequate portion of its target audience.

The R-rated buddy comedy Let's Be Cops held up well in its second weekend falling 39% to $10.8M in fourth place. Fox has banked $45.1M to date and should be on course for a $70M+ final which would be impressive for the low-cost no-star vehicle.

The inspirational sports drama When the Game Stands Tall debuted in fifth with $8.4M from 2,673 locations for a mild $3,136 average. The PG-rated film targeted the faith-based audience with grassroots promotions and went after football fans right as the NFL pre-season got underway. The production budget was $15M and the A- CinemaScore indicated that customers were fairly pleased with their ticket purchase. Reviews were negative.

A pair of underperforming sophomores followed. The value pack of action heroes from Lionsgate's The Expendables 3 tumbled 59% to $6.5M for a wimpy total of $27.4M to date. That's less money in ten-plus days than either of the first two films made on the opening weekend alone. Those 2010 and 2012 hits also spent back-to-back weeks at number one while the threequel never even reached the top three. The book-to-film offering The Giver fell 48% to $6.4M but the overall tally is still a weak $23.8M for The Weinstein Co. Final domestic grosses should reach the areas of $40M for Giver and $45M for Expendables.

Proving again how difficult it is to get young men into theaters for action films not connected to a huge brand, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For stumbled into eighth place with a pathetic opening weekend of only $6.3M. That is a three-day gross, not a one-day figure. The Weinstein Co. title averaged a miserable $2,183 from a very wide debut in 2,894 locations and failed to connect with the fans that drove the first Sin City to a strong $29.1M in April 2005. The star-packed sequel's budget is estimated to be more than $60M.

Too much time has passed since the last film and the noir and graphic novel styles have been done so many times in the nine years since so it did not have a fresh look and feel like the first Sin. The scheduling into late August showed a lack of confidence from the distributor. This flop adds to the growing list of action films that failed to break $10M on opening weekend this year joining The Legend of Hercules, I, Frankenstein, Sabotage, and Brick Mansions. Even A-list brands like Spider-Man and Transformers sunk to new franchise lows this year with their latest installments grossing $60-100M less than their last chapters.

Helen Mirren's food drama The Hundred-Foot Journey held up well again with $5.3M in its third round, off a slim 26%, for a new cume of $32.5M for Disney. The weather disaster thriller Into The Storm rounded out the top ten with $3.8M, down 52%, for a $38.3M sum for Warner Bros.

With just one more week left of the summer movie season, here is where the top five blockbusters stand in terms of domestic box office: Guardians Of The Galaxy $251.5M, Transformers: Age of Extinction $243.8M, Maleficent $237.6M, X-Men: Days of Future Past $232.7M, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes $203.9M.

The top ten films grossed $97.2M which was up 16% from last year when The Butler stayed at number one with $16.5M; and up 28% from 2012 when The Expendables 2 remained on top with $13.4M.

Compared to projections, If I Stay opened on target with my $16M forecast. When the Game Stands Tall and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For both came in below my respective predictions of $11M and $14M.

Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when As Above/So Below and The November Man open over Labor Day weekend putting a quiet end to summer.

# Title Aug 22 - 24 Aug 15 - 17 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Guardians of the Galaxy $ 17,202,212 $ 25,115,564 -31.5 3,371 4 $ 5,103 $ 251,456,069 Disney
2 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 16,725,447 28,523,147 -41.4 3,864 3 4,329 145,535,253 Paramount
3 If I Stay 15,679,190 2,907 1 5,394 15,679,190 Warner Bros.
4 Let's Be Cops 10,810,533 17,813,722 -39.3 3,140 2 3,443 45,056,701 Fox
5 When the Game Stands Tall 8,381,509 2,673 1 3,136 8,381,509 Sony
6 The Expendables 3 6,485,385 15,879,645 -59.2 3,221 2 2,013 27,403,562 Lionsgate
7 The Giver 6,434,240 12,305,016 -47.7 3,003 2 2,143 23,804,778 Weinstein Co.
8 Sin City: A Dame to Kill For 6,317,683 2,894 1 2,183 6,317,683 Weinstein Co.
9 The Hundred-Foot Journey 5,339,006 7,176,092 -25.6 1,944 3 2,746 32,527,210 Disney
10 Into The Storm 3,803,309 7,892,239 -51.8 2,375 3 1,601 38,304,693 Warner Bros.
11 Lucy 3,463,590 5,493,685 -37.0 1,768 5 1,959 113,698,860 Universal
12 Boyhood 1,653,667 1,992,448 -17.0 734 7 2,253 16,315,715 IFC
13 Magic in the Moonlight 1,211,276 1,786,150 -32.2 787 5 1,539 6,700,601 Sony Classics
14 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 1,076,581 1,984,776 -56.2 733 7 1,469 203,937,551 Fox
15 Get On Up 932,595 1,949,295 52.2 579 4 1,611 28,697,585 Universal
16 A Most Wanted Man 853,510 1,256,384 -32.1 433 5 1,971 14,043,499 Roadside Attr.
17 Hercules 849,796 2,127,874 -63.8 622 5 1,366 69,936,092 Paramount
18 Step Up All In 724,072 2,659,026 -72.8 948 3 764 13,688,122 Lionsgate
19 What If 668,855 854,364 -21.7 680 3 984 2,221,309 CBS
20 Maleficent 591,073 369,281 60.1 344 13 1,718 237,602,294 Disney
Top 5 $ 68,798,891 $ 99,637,094 -31.0
Top 10 97,178,514 124,986,010 -22.2
Top 20 109,203,529 137,703,536 -20.7
Top 20 vs. 2013 109,203,529 103,429,949 5.6

Last Updated: August 25, 2014 at 5:50PM ET

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