Weekend Box Office (September 5 - 7, 2014)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND With kids back in school, football returning, and studios opting not to open any major films, the North American box office slumped to its worst performance in 13 years. The Top 20 struggled to reach a miserable $58.2M - the lowest point the film industry has seen since the weeks just after the 9/11 tragedy in 2001.

Once again it was the super hero smash Guardians of the Galaxy which led the way grossing $10.4M in its sixth weekend, according to final studio figures. Off a reasonable 39%, the Marvel juggernaut has now spent four of its six weekends in the top spot and has raised its domestic total to an incredible $294.8M. Guardians has now become the highest-grossing film to ever come out of August surpassing the $293.5M of 1999's The Sixth Sense. That ghost story sold significantly more tickets, however. Galaxy also inched ahead of Sense on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters to take the number 50 spot. It is the first movie all year to reach the all-time Top 50 showing how devoid this year has been so far of mega-hits.

Star Lord and his misfit pals continue to win over new fans. The film is running 2% ahead of the first Iron Man which had grossed $288.8M at the same point in its release, though it had a weaker sixth weekend gross of $7.5M. In fact, among sixth weekend grosses for all super hero films ever, Guardians trails only The Avengers ($11.2M) and The Dark Knight ($10.5M). A North American final of about $320M seems likely for Guardians of the Galaxy which has spent more weekends at number one than any past Marvel film. Weak competition in the dog days of summer contributed to that record.

Overseas, Groot and company are still raking it in. The international cume rose to $291.6M keeping in close proximity to the domestic tally. Worldwide stands at $586M and will smash the $600M mark next weekend when the film opens in Japan. China has been given a release date of October 10 and Marvel films have an outstanding track record there. Reaching $800M is possible.

Posting the lowest gross all year for a film in second place, Paramount's hit adventure Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles took in $6.5M for a 45% decline. The successful action entry has now banked $174.7M and seems headed for a domestic finish of around $190M. That's incredibly high for a film coming out of August - and competing head to head with a monster action smash like Guardians. Turtles upped its international tally to $125.6M for a new global haul of $300.3M with most top ten international markets not even open yet.

Fox followed with $5.6M for its raunchy comedy Let's Be Cops in its fourth lap, off just 33%. The R-rated pic has now banked a sturdy $66.8M. Down 40% in its third weekend was the teen romance If I Stay with $5.6M as well lifting the Warner Bros. cume to $39.5M.

Pierce Brosnan's spy thriller The November Man fell 46% in its second weekend to $4.3M. With only $18M to date, the Relativity title looks to end with just under $30M. The Universal horror pic As Above/So Below followed with $3.9M, off a sharp 55% in its sophomore frame, for a cume of $15.7M. A $22M final seems likely.

The inspirational football flick When the Game Stands Tall dropped 43% to $3.4M while the sci-fi pic The Giver dipped by 38% to $3.4M too. Totals are now $23.2M for Sony and $37.7M for The Weinstein Co.

A pair of summer winners led by women rounded out the top ten. Helen Mirren's The Hundred-Foot Journey slipped 35% to $3.1M and has banked $45.6M so far for Disney and DreamWorks. Lucy, headlined by Scarlett Johansson, suffered only a 29% slide to $2M. Universal's domestic haul is $121.2M passing the $118.3M of Angelina Jolie's own one-woman summer action hit Salt from 2010.

The dismal weekend's only new wide release The Identical stumbled to a dismal debut. Released by Freestyle, the PG-rated music drama opened to $1.6M from 1,956 theaters for an embarrassing $811 average. Among new films launching in over 1,000 theaters, it was the worst opening weekend of 2014. Reviews were horrendous, starpower was low, and targeted outreach to the faith-based audience did not result in any turnout.

Paramount released an IMAX version of Forrest Gump which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. But the result was weak as the film grossed $381,654 from 337 premium screens for a poor $1,133 average. The Oscar winner's lifetime gross inched up to $330.1M.

The top ten films grossed $48.1M which was down 22% from last year when Riddick debuted at number one with $19M; but up 3% from 2012 when The Possession opened on top with $9.3M.

Compared to projections, The Identical came in with half of my low $4M prediction.

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 Dolphin Tale 2 and No Good Deed both open.

# Title Sep 5 - 7 Aug 29 - 31 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Guardians of the Galaxy $ 10,357,345 $ 17,082,262 -39.4 3,221 6 $ 3,216 $ 294,765,199 Disney
2 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 6,506,688 11,918,029 -45.4 3,273 5 1,988 174,653,217 Paramount
3 Let's Be Cops 5,568,871 8,292,004 -32.8 2,932 4 1,899 66,766,954 Fox
4 If I Stay 5,555,244 9,310,848 -40.3 3,157 3 1,760 39,468,624 Warner Bros.
5 The November Man 4,307,680 7,911,597 -45.6 2,776 2 1,552 17,978,019 Relativity
6 As Above/So Below 3,854,425 8,632,820 -55.4 2,650 2 1,455 15,707,170 Universal
7 The Giver 3,421,064 5,524,809 -38.1 2,576 4 1,328 37,665,059 Weinstein Co.
8 When the Game Stands Tall 3,410,019 6,012,231 -43.3 2,766 3 1,233 23,200,735 Sony
9 The Hundred-Foot Journey 3,146,462 4,802,802 -34.5 2,167 5 1,452 45,614,544 Disney
10 Lucy 1,955,570 2,762,265 -29.2 1,171 6 1,670 121,212,955 Universal
11 The Expendables 3 1,822,039 3,558,114 -48.8 1,978 4 921 36,719,858 Lionsgate
12 The Identical 1,587,137 1,956 1 811 1,587,137 Freestyle
13 Into The Storm 1,467,371 2,549,014 -42.4 1,345 5 1,091 44,569,242 Warner Bros.
14 Boyhood 1,152,559 1,516,371 -24.0 775 8 1,487 20,474,336 IFC
15 Cantinflas 1,064,752 2,661,253 -60.0 429 2 2,482 4,791,597 Lionsgate
16 Sin City: A Dame to Kill For 691,410 2,223,742 -68.9 1,204 3 574 12,908,297 Weinstein Co.
17 Magic in the Moonlight 631,060 862,152 -26.8 530 6 1,191 9,182,507 Sony Classics
18 Ghostbusters (re-release) 590,582 1,756,513 -66.4 708 2 834 3,250,998 Sony
19 A Most Wanted Man 573,563 656,451 -12.6 421 7 1,362 15,920,652 Roadside Attr.
20 How To Train Your Dragon 2 543,504 1,176,225 -53.8 666 13 816 174,725,162 Fox
Top 5 $ 32,295,828 $ 55,235,963 -41.5
Top 10 48,083,368 83,045,516 -42.1
Top 20 58,207,345 100,219,176 -41.9
Top 20 vs. 2013 58,207,345 76,046,285 -23.5

Last Updated: September 8, 2014 at 9:40PM ET

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

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