Weekend Box Office (February 27 - March 1, 2015)
THIS WEEKEND Proving once again he is no longer the box office magnet from years past, Will Smith attracted lackluster business to the opening weekend for his latest project Focus which was still able to capture the number one spot over a very sluggish moviegoing session. For the first time since Halloween, no film managed to generate $20M in weekend box office.
Focus opened to an estimated $19.1M from 3,323 locations averaging a not-so-impressive $5,748 per site. The con man flick was a rare move into R-rated territory for the actor and represented his second worst debut from the past 13 years. Only 2008's Seven Pounds opened worse at $14.9M. Plus Focus was only Smith's second number one hit over the past six years joining the tentpole sequel Men in Black 3 from 2012.
Reviews were mixed, Smith's starpower has faded, and the film's plot was not effectively communicated in its trailer and TV spots. Plus there was no help from any other stars or brand to pull in crowds. A big studio marketing push did what it could for a product that failed to excite anyone.
Audiences who did come out were only moderately pleased as evidenced by the film's B CinemaScore. Smith boasts over 76 million likes on Facebook and used his social media platform heavily to sell his latest project, but that didn't do much to make cash registers ring. Sometimes, people just don't want to see a particular movie.
Focus skewed older with studio data indicating that the crowd was 88% over 25 with females making up 53%. IMAX was offered in 351 locations and those screens contributed $2.1M, or 11% of the weekend take. With mixed audience buzz, the road ahead could be a bit rocky for Warner Bros.
Holding steady at number two for a third straight weekend was the action flick Kingsman: The Secret Service which fell 36% to an estimated $11.8M giving Fox a solid $85.7M to date. The Colin Firth spy pic is on its way to becoming 2015's first $100M+ hit to never reach the number one spot.
Close behind with an estimated $11.2M was Paramount's hit toon The SpongeBob Movie which was off only 32% and continues to benefit from a lack of competition. Cume to date is $140.3M domestic with the global tally up to $236.6M.
Two-time champ Fifty Shades of Grey fell to third place losing 51% of its business. With an estimated $10.9M, the Universal smash pushed its domestic total to $147.8M and its worldwide haul to a stellar $486.2M. It's the number one global blockbuster of 2015 to date.
The new fright flick The Lazarus Effect saw mild results in fifth place opening to an estimated $10.6M. Relativity's horror entry averaged a decent $3,976 from 2,666 sites and connected with the usual crowd for this genre, though not in any impressive way. Kevin Costner's latest film McFarland, USA dipped only 29% to an estimated $7.8M in its second weekend. The Disney release has banked $22M and may end up with about $40M.
Oscar winner American Sniper followed closely with an estimated $7.7M, off 23%, for a new cume of $331.1M for Warner Bros. It now sits at number 33 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters and by next weekend will pass both Guardians of the Galaxy and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 to become the highest grossing domestic hit to come out of 2014. Global is a Clint best $470.2M.
High school comedy The DUFF fared well in its sophomore session slipping only 34% to an estimated $7.2M for $20.1M to date. Still Alice, which earned Julianne Moore the Oscar for Best Actress, expanded and rose 24% to an estimated $2.7M putting it in the top ten for the first time. Sony Classics has banked $12M to date. The comedy sequel Hot Tub Time Machine 2 tumbled 60% to an estimated $2.4M giving the flop $10.3M overall.
Other Oscar winners capitalized on their wins by expanding their runs. The big champ Birdman tripled its run from 407 to 1,213 locations and saw its weekend take soar 125% to an estimated $2M giving Fox Searchlight $40.3M overall. Whiplash rose 19% to an estimated $677,000 with $12.3M for Sony Classics. The Theory of Everything climbed 17% to an estimated $649,000 with $35.1M to date for Focus. Winners Selma and The Imitation Game have already burned through much of their audiences and their declines were in the mid 20s just like Sniper's.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $91.3M which was down 12% from last year when Non-Stop opened at number one with $28.9M; but up 4% from 2013 when Jack The Giant Slayer debuted on top with $27.2M.
Compared to projections, Focus and The Lazarus Effect both opened very close to my forecasts of $20M and $10M, respectively.
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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 Unfinished Business, Chappie, and The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel all open.
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 1, 2015 at 2:30PM ET
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