This weekend with all eyes on Super Bowl 50, studios refrained from opening anything new that was worthwhile allowing current champ Kung Fu Panda 3 to easily repeat at number one for a second time. The DreamWorks Animation offering fell 49% to an estimated $21M bumping the ten-day cume up to $69.1M. The last film in the franchise opened over Memorial Day weekend in the summer of 2011 and suffered a similar 50% sophomore fall. Panda 3 is now running 26% behind the pace of KFP2.
Oscar-winning directors the Coen Brothers saw an unimpressive second place debut for their new film Hail, Caesar! which opened to an estimated $11.4M from 2,232 locations for a moderate $5,125 average. The PG-13 satirical comedy boasted some big star names like George Clooney, Channing Tatum, and Scarlett Johansson and was met with mostly positive reviews from critics. However the response from paying audiences was different and those who did go out an see the film gave harsh marks as evidenced by the lousy C- CinemaScore grade.
Often, films from the Coens platform and expand later but Universal went wide from the start with Caesar. The result was a weekend gross slightly behind what the filmmakers saw over a decade ago with films like The Ladykillers and Intolerable Cruelty which both opened in the $12-13M range at a time when ticket prices were much less. Hail, Caesar! should fade fast thanks to poor word-of-mouth and intense competition next weekend from a trio of studio comedies.
Oscar player The Revenant dropped 44% to an estimated $7.1M boosting its cume to a robust $149.7M. The Fox release took home the coveted DGA prize on Saturday for its director Alejandro G. Iñárritu keeping it a major contender in what has been a tight and wide open race this year. On Monday, Revenant becomes the fifth film of Leonardo DiCaprio’s career to reach $150M domestically following Titanic, Catch Me If You Can, Inception, and Django Unchained.
Jedi power led to double milestones this weekend for Star Wars: The Force Awakens with the $900M domestic mark being broken on Friday and $2 billion global being shattered on Saturday. The Disney smash grossed an estimated $6.9M in its eighth weekend, off 38%, shooting the North American total up to $906M – the best for any movie in history.
Overseas markets contributed a similar $7M this weekend pushing the international cume to $1.1 billion and the global tally to $2.008 billion. Force‘s trajectory still puts it on course for a $2.05 billion finish with 55% coming from overseas. With $124.5M, China stands as the world’s number three market for the film after domestic and the U.K. But with the run nearing its end there, the figure is far from what numerous other Hollywood action films have done. The gross is just slightly better than what Captain America: The Winter Soldier did in China two years ago.
Two new female-skewing films were dropped into the marketplace on Super Bowl weekend as counter-programming but failed to create any excitement. The romance The Choice bowed to an estimated $6.1M from 2,631 locations for a weak $2,313 average for Lionsgate. Critics panned this latest PG-13 adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel.
Sony countered with the Jane Austen-inspired horror flick Pride and Prejudice and Zombies which was rejected with an estimated $5.2M debut. The PG-13 film averaged a dismal $1,774 from 2,931 locations. It had the smallest opening weekend among the new releases despite having the most theaters.
The Coast Guard rescue film The Finest Hours fell 54% to an estimated $4.7M in its second weekend bumping Disney’s cume up to $18.4M. Ride Along 2, the comedy forever to be known as the movie that ended the reign of The Force Awakens at number one, followed with an estimated $4.5M dropping 46%. Universal has banked $77.2M and the global gross cracked $100M.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $75.1M which was down 6% from last year’s Super Bowl frame when American Sniper stayed at number one with $30.7M; but up 14% from 2014’s football championship weekend when Ride Along remained in the top spot with $12M.
Compared to projections, Hail, Caesar! opened on target with my $11M forecast. The Choice and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies both opened below my respective predictions of $8M and $12M.
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