MOVIE BOX OFFICE
It was rough going this weekend for Will Smith's latest offering. Although the movie came in at number one, that was due to the slowness of the February box office doldrums than a massive audience turn out.
Proving that its mystique is little more than flash-in-the-pan titillation, Fifty Shades of Grey plummeted over 70% from last weekend and only held number one because the fresh blood came in pre-clotted or pre-thinned and ready to flop.
American audiences sometimes aren't the most discerning when it comes to appreciating quality movie-making. The promise of titillating sex or mid-school grade fart jokes tends to go a lot farther than great acting and enjoyable plots. The two new movies this weekend served to solidify the point.
This weekend closed out with one solid winner and two big losers. The long awaited The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water arrived, landing the number one spot after American Sniper had held the position for longer than exptected three weekends in a row.
American Sniper held a solid lock on the number one spot for a third weekend in a row. There were three newcomers, but those three combined barely earned half of its three week old $31 million.
American Sniper held strong to the number one spot, dropping less than 30% and adding $64 million and just crossing the $200 million mark. While directing is nothing new for Clint Eastwood, this is his most successful effort to date by box office standards. Sniper has already surpassed his previous highest grosser, Gran Torino's $148 million.
After spending three weeks in a very shrewd, word-of-mouth buzz generating, 2014 Oscars qualifying limited release, American Sniper expanded into wide release this weekend, catapulting to number one and setting records at the same time.
The third and purportedly final installation in the Taken franchise hit theaters this weekend. On the one hand it's probably a good thing that it's the last movie.
2014 went out with less than a bang. Ticket sales were down 5% from the previous year and with an increase in average ticket prices that means attendance dropped even more than that. But 2015 got off to a slightly stronger start.
The post-Christmas weekend, which is also the last of 2014, saw a nice boost for most movies and some exceptional openings for the newcomers. It paints a good picture for the weekend, but it wasn't enough to dig the 2014 box office out of its major slump.
It was a weekend dominated by holiday sequels, and although they had a decent turn out, there wasn't much room for holiday cheers by franchise box office standards.
Ridley Scott's latest epic historical movie hit theaters this weekend and while it took an easy number one, there wasn't anything historic or epic about its box office performance.
There was only one new release this weekend, and a small release entry at that. The Pyramid opened in under 600 venues but still managed a ninth place debut with $1.3 million. Everything else fell, many a little harder than most weekend to weekend drops, resulting in what is pretty much the lowest selling weekend of the year.
Thanksgiving weekend saw two new sequels step up, but neither had anything on last weekend's number one which easily dominated the holiday.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, as expected, took the box office by storm this weekend. With $123 million it was easily the number one movie of the weekend and, in what's been a slow box office year, had the largest opening of the year to date, trumping this summer's Transformers: Age of Extinction's $100 million debut.
This weekend Harry and Floyd made a triumphant return to the big screen twenty years after the original made a splash, creating two pop culture icons out of the main characters. Dumb and Dumber To landed a solid number one with a $38 million debut. That's more than double what the original made in 1994 when it banked $16 million.
Christopher Nolan is a director whose name has become synonymous with big number one openings. His last five movies opened at number one two of those topped $150 million their opening weekend. But this weekend he had to settle for a close second place.
Halloween had a spate of horror, thriller and just plain creepy dramas in theaters, but none of them performed very well. That might be because getting candy for free going door to door is way better than taking out a second mortgage to be able to afford the kinds sold in movie theaters, but more likely audiences are just saving their pennies for bigger entries set to roll out in the next few weeks.
$340 million dollars. That's how far behind domestic box office ticket sales are from last year. In fact, sales are so slow they could end up being the lowest in seven years. That will be down to how well the holiday movies fare come December, but until then the usual October doldrums aren't doing much to help.
Gone Girl held the number one spot for a second weekend in a row, while four newcomers settled for non-exciting to down right disappointing openings. Several major small release indie and indie-ish movies hit theaters with mixed results.
It was a good weekend for director David Fincher and his leading man Ben Affleck. Not only was their new movie Gone Girl number one this weekend, it banked a total that is one of the highest for each.
In the mid to late 80s Edward Woodward was The Equalizer. His character, Robert McCall, brought a grin to audience's faces by wiping the grin off the faces of particularly egregious and dangerous criminals in particularly painful and fitting ways. Critics were lukewarm about the new film revival of the character as played by Denzel Washington, but audiences were interested enough to give it a decent number one opening.
The Maze Runner, based on yet another series of young adult books set in a sci-fi-ish, post-apocolyptic-ish world took first place, but only banked $32 million. That's a modest showing at best, well short of openings like Divergent's $54 million debut in March and the hugely successful Hunger Games franchise and its triple digit bow ins. Still, Maze Runner's $32 million start isn't bad when compared with its equally modest budget of $34 million, making it a viable, if not wildly successful, financial franchise.
After three quiet weeks in a row at number one, Guardians of the Galaxy finally began the usual descent down the charts, but not before crossing the $300 million mark. Already the number one movie of the year so far, that total makes it one of less than fifty movies to ever bank that much money in domestic sales.
The cinematic doldrums of September and October are off to an unusually quiet start with one of the slowest weekends in recent box office history.