Weekend Box Office (March 27 - 29, 2015)
THIS WEEKEND The DreamWorks Animation offering Home opened to fantastic results shattering expectations to claim the number one spot with an estimated $54M. The PG-rated toon featuring the voices of Rihanna, Jim Parsons, Steve Martin, and Jennifer Lopez averaged a stellar $14,563 from 3,708 locations for Fox which handled the release.
It was the biggest non-sequel opening for the struggling animation studio since the $59.3M launch of 2009's Monsters vs. Aliens which happened to open on the exact same day. Home soared above the $30-40M range which the industry was expecting and the debut came very close to the $55.4M of last month's The SpongeBob Movie as well as Disney's Oscar winner Big Hero 6 which bowed to $56.2M last November. Those are much higher profile titles so to get so close was quite a feat. Home even beat recent toon sequels like How To Train Your Dragon 2, Rio 2, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 and the last two Ice Age pics.
Reviews for Home were mixed with many critics calling it ordinary and familiar. But kids and parents came out in droves and loved the pic giving it a solid A grade from CinemaScore. Starpower from the voice cast certainly helped as did the story of a girl trying to reunite with her mom. Plus with Easter next weekend and many school closings coming up, the road ahead looks bright. No major animated rival will get in its way until mid-June when Pixar returns with Inside Out so Home has smooth sailing. Studio data showed the audience to be 60% female, 57% under 25, and 52% non-white.
Home's success is crucial for the toon studio which saw dull results for its last film Penguins of Madagascar which grossed only $83.2M, the second worst tally across its last 17 films prompting major corporate cutbacks. Often dropping three films a year, DWA has no more movies on its 2015 release calendar so it will be looking for as much cash as possible from Home. Next up for the company will be Kung Fu Panda 3 in March of next year. Overseas, Home grossed an estimated $24M this weekend pushing the foreign cume to $48.2M for a $102.2M global gross very early in the run.
Comedy titans Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart promoted their new vehicle aggressively and powered Get Hard to a strong second place debut with an estimated $34.6M. Averaging an impressive $10,901 from 3,175 locations, the R-rated train-me-for-prison comedy tapped into the fan base of each superstar leading to a large overall turnout. It was the third best live-action opening ever for Ferrell trailing just Talladega Nights ($47M) and The Other Guys ($35.5M) which were both PG-13 films released in the summer. For Hart it was his second biggest opening in a lead role after the $41.5M of last year's career-making PG-13 smash Ride Along.
Reviews for Get Hard were lackluster and moviegoers were only moderately pleased as evidenced by the B CinemaScore grade. And with Furious 7 racing into multiplexes this Thursday evening at 7pm, rapid erosion may follow. But Get Hard did deliver good news for the genre of R-rated comedies which have mostly stumbled over the past year.
The sci-fi sequel The Divergent Series: Insurgent fell from first to third with an estimated $22.1M, off 58% in its second weekend, dropping slightly harder than its predecessor. Last year's Divergent on the same weekend fell 53%. Lionsgate has now collected $86.4M for Insurgent compared to $94.4M for Divergent at the same point in its run a year ago putting the new chapter 9% behind. Shailene Woodley's three hits over the past year have now grossed a combined $362M from North America alone. Worldwide, Insurgent stands at $180.1M.
Another major March player followed. Disney's Cinderella dropped 50% in its third frame to an estimated $17.5M as many families shifted over to Home. The glass slipper gal lifted her domestic cume to $150M and watched her global gross soar to $336.2M led by China's incredible $65.1M which is more than the next nine biggest markets combined.
Following two weeks of stellar numbers in limited release, the low-budget horror pic It Follows expanded nationwide from 32 to 1,218 locations and wound up in fifth place with an estimated $4M for a mild $3,301 average. Distributor Radius had planned a VOD release this weekend to capture national business from a home platform, but limited release success and positive buzz prompted a change in strategy to roll the dice for a wide theatrical gamble. The R-rated pic falls in between mainstream spookfest and arthouse chiller.
Though not spectacular, Follow's performance this weekend is commendable given its late-in-the-game change and limited marketing dollars. Most of the campaign has been through digital ads and social media. Critics praised the sexually-transmitted-terror film for its originality, something rare in this genre. Audience feedback has not been as ecstatic, but has still been fairly positive. Cume is $4.8M and an expansion into more theaters is planned for Good Friday.
The rest of the films in the top ten wound up with slim slices of the box office pie. The Fox hit Kingsman: The Secret Service grossed an estimated $3.1M, off 34%, for a $119.4M total. Liam Neeson's Run All Night grabbed an estimated $2.2M, down 56%, putting Warner Bros. at only $23.8M.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel slipped 38% to an estimated $2.2M as well for a $28.1M sum for Fox Searchlight. Faith-based drama Do You Believe? fell 40% to an estimated $2.2M giving the Pure Flix release $7.1M to date. Open Road saw the Sean Penn flop The Gunman tumble 59% in its second round to an estimated $2M. Cume is a measly $8.8M.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $143.9M which was up 15% from last year when Noah opened at number one with $43.7M; and up 5% from 2013 when G.I. Joe: Retaliation debuted in the top spot with $40.5M.
Compared to projections, Home zoomed past my $29M forecast while Get Hard opened close to my $32M prediction.
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Be sure to check back on Monday for final figures and again on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Furious 7 opens, likely to record numbers.
This column is updated three times each week: Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.
Last Updated: March 29, 2015 at 1:30PM ET
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