For the second February in a row, childhood nostalgia led to a big opening at the North American box office. A year after The LEGO Movie started its dynamic run, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water beat expectations and had one of the biggest winter openings of all time. With an estimated $56 million in its opening three days, it has the fifth largest debut for a film in February (after The Passion of the Christ, The LEGO Movie, Hannibal and Valentine’s Day). It also sold far more tickets than the much-anticipated SpongeBob movie from November 2004, which opened to the tune of $32 million.
It was expected that the beloved Nickelodeon character was going to open at the top of the box office, but few expected it would be by more than a 2:1 margin over the next film. Given that it has been more than 10 years since the beloved character has been on the big screen, industry expectations had Sponge Out of Water opening within the same range as the original. However, colorful and funny ads aimed at kids and good reviews aimed at adults helped to bring out families in big numbers. A B CinemaScore among adults means little when crowds under 18 gave it an A- rating. Considering the lack of family films coming out over the next month, expect the square-pantsed hero and his friends to make a run for the $200 million mark.
Flexing its box office muscle after a steep drop last weekend was Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, which slid only 21% to earn $24.1 million in its fourth weekend of wide release. On Sunday, the Oscar nominee surpassed The Matrix Reloaded‘s $281.6 million to become the second-highest grossing R-rated film of all time. It has earned a jaw-dropping $282.3 million so far – more than the other seven Best Picture nominees combined.
Even with its terrific run so far, the film has not seen a lot of competition for adults during its run. Next weekend sees the release of two anticipated R-rated flicks: Fifty Shades of Grey and Kingsman: The Secret Service. American Sniper still looks poised to be 2014’s biggest-grossing film domestically, although whether it has any chance of toppling The Passion of the Christ‘s $370.8 million take will depend on how well it performs over the next long weekend.
Source: Box Office