Weekend Box Office (November 28 - 30, 2014)
THIS WEEKEND Two well-liked brands are popping up in North American multiplexes giving moviegoers some familiar characters over the long - and lucrative - Thanksgiving holiday session. The DreamWorks Animation spinoff Penguins of Madagascar targets families while the Warner Bros. comedy sequel Horrible Bosses 2 aims to give adults some raunchy laughs. Both opened on Wednesday kicking off the five-day span.
The three-toons-per-year strategy from DreamWorks applies itself for the final time in 2014 with Penguins of Madagascar which hopes to tap into the large fan base of the Madagascar franchise which is nearly a decade old. This PG-rated spinoff finds the likable quartet of birds getting their own story with new characters voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, John Malkovich and others. Fox is handling the global release and international box office will be a major component.
Reviews have been good and the film stands up just fine as worthy entertainment for kids and parents alike. Competition will be a factor with the well-liked Big Hero 6 appealing to the same audience, but the five-day holiday stretch allows multiple kidpics to have enough breathing room. The last film in the series, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, bowed to $60.3M in June 2012 and featured all the characters and stars of the series. This one drops the bigger name actors which is common for a spinoff. Puss in Boots did just fine in 2011 and next summer's Minions may also do great numbers. Now playing in 3,654 locations, Penguins of Madagascar may open to about $34M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and $45M across the long holiday span.
Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day return to inept criminal shenanigans with the R-rated comedy sequel Horrible Bosses 2. The first film was a surprise hit in the summer of 2011 with a solid $28.3M debut leading to a $117.5M final. Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz join the cast. Jennifer Aniston and Jamie Foxx return for the sequel as does Kevin Spacey who, unlike the others, is not being used in the posters.
The first film's good will should lead many to come back for the second adventure since all the major players are back. But this is not a cult smash so don't expect The Hangover Part II growth here. And reviews are mostly negative. Overall, it's been an underwhelming year for R-rated comedies. Thanksgiving weekend is a lazy time when standards dip a little so having a near duplicate storyline should still pass the test. Plus there has not been many good laughs for adults in recent months so Warner Bros. picked a good date. Now running in 3,321 theaters, Horrible Bosses 2 may find its way to around $25M for the weekend and $35M over five days.
Lionsgate is hoping this will be the sixth consecutive Thanksgiving weekend to be ruled by a holdover. Its tentpole sequel The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 soared to the biggest opening of 2014 last weekend, even though it fell below franchise standards. It is also less liked than last year's chapter Catching Fire which dropped 53% over this same holiday weekend. A 60% drop may occur putting the third Katniss adventure at about $49M pushing the cume up to $216M.
Kidpics always do well over the turkey frame thanks to schools being off and families having more leisure time. Big Hero 6 has enjoyed solid word-of-mouth which should allow it to carve out a nice slice in its fourth helping despite a new animated entry hitting the marketplace. Look for the Disney toon to slide by 20% to around $16M raising the total to $164M.
For thinking adults, Interstellar is still the main game in town. Paramount's sci-fi thriller may fall by 25% to roughly $12M giving it $142M to date.
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Watch the trailer for Jurassic World.
LAST YEAR For a second weekend, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire topped the box office and captured $74.2M vaulting the cume to nearly $300M after just the second weekend. Disney went nationwide with its animated entry Frozen which would turn into a pop culture phenomenon and double Oscar winner. The sister tale grossed a stunning $67.4M over three days on its way to $400.7M domestic and an incredible $1.27 billion worldwide. Sequels Thor: The Dark World and The Best Man Holiday followed with $11.1M and $8.2M, respectively. Jason Statham's Homefront bowed to just $6.9M on its way to $20.2M.
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: November 26, 2014 at 3:45PM ET
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