Weekend Box Office (March 27 - 29, 2015)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Two divergent studio films attack the North American box office, each trying to win pole position before Furious 7 races into the marketplace at record speeds. Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart join forces for the first time in the raunchy comedy Get Hard. R-rated comedies have mostly stumbled over the last year both creatively and commercially with very few hits. This Warner Bros. release should change that as the starpower is epic and the concept of a millionaire white collar criminal learning prison survival skills from a street-smart entrepreneur has great appeal.

Not surprisingly, critics have been cold to Get Hard, but that should not matter too much. This is more about the star wattage of the leads and the promise of sitting back and laughing yourself silly at bold and crude humor. The marketing push has been solid and the funnymen have been hustling tirelessly to promote their new product.

A key component in boosting the opening weekend comes from the fact that the two leads have their own fan bases. Sure, many like both, but they are different enough to pull in moviegoers primarily coming for just one of the stars. That boosts the overall target audience. Hart was on fire in 2014 while this year's offering The Wedding Ringer (with no major co-stars) did only moderate business. He does run the risk of overexposure with major roles in five films over the past 15 months. Ferrell on the other hand has not been hitting the multiplexes too often with only one major live-action film - Anchorman 2 - over the past two and a half years. But this combo-pack should be too good to refuse for mainstream adult audiences. Even older teens should come out in some of their best numbers for a comedy in some time.

Cross-gender appeal is strong. Ethnic appeal is strong. Date night appeal is strong. Broad appeal is likely here bringing many audience segments all under one roof. Plus there is demand for a major studio comedy as none has hit it big since November's Dumb and Dumber To. Opening in 3,175 theaters, Get Hard might collect around $32M this weekend.

Also opening wide and hoping for a shot at the top spot is the latest from DreamWorks Animation - the alien comedy Home. The PG-rated film features the voices of Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin, and Jennifer Lopez which should help commercially. Much has been said about the animation studio's financial woes with its overabundance of supply in the marketplace. Home is its fourth toon in 13 months. Do we really need this many? And unlike the three from 2014, this one is original and not connected to a well-known brand. DreamWorks will be hoping that originality will sell.

Reviews have been lackluster and Cinderella is currently doing solid business with families so it will be an uphill battle for Home. It will need to rely on the starpower of its voice cast plus funny trailers in order to entice kids. Penguins of Madagascar opened to $25.4M over Thanksgiving and last March's Mr. Peabody & Sherman bowed to $32.2M. That could be the range to expect this weekend with a film that lacks urgency. Landing in 3,708 theaters, Home might take in about $29M this weekend.

The sci-fi sequel Insurgent has remained on top during the week and continues to run 5% behind the pace of its predecessor Divergent from the same week a year ago. A 55% decline is likely for the second weekend putting Lionsgate at about $24M for a new cume of $88M.

Cinderella hopes to enjoy a smaller drop in its third weekend, but rival kidpic Home will steal away some biz. Look for a 45% slide to around $19M boosting the total to $152M.

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LAST YEAR The Biblical epic Noah debuted at number one with a solid $43.7M for Paramount leading to a $101.2M domestic final and $359M worldwide. Divergent fell from the top and banked $25.6M followed by fellow sophomore Muppets Most Wanted with $11.3M. Rounding out the top five were the toon Mr. Peabody & Sherman with $9.1M and the faith-based hit God's Not Dead which expanded and eased just 5% to $8.8M.


Last Updated: March 26, 2015 at 4:10PM ET

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