This weekend was a busy pre-Easter frame, with three new titles of varying genres debuting in the Spring – and it made no difference. The hero of the U.S. continued to dominate despite the crowded field, and overall theaters saw close to a $20 million increase over last year.
Here’s how this weekend’s box office played out:
1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier — Gross $41.4 million (Cume $159 million; Week 2)
Marvel’s ongoing dominance is unsurprising, but the strong accolades for this entry might have still turned a few heads. The raves were large, and likewise the business. This will easily beat out the original, and should become a top-5 grosser all time for the studio.
2. Rio 2 — $39 mil ($39 mil)
This animated lark (damn, that’s clever!) benefitted from weak performances by other family films on the market. Blue Sky Studios, the animation company behind Ice Age, continues a second franchise with Rio 2. A somewhat soft domestic run for the original made less than $150 million here, but this entry was justified by its predecessor earning almost half a billion dollars worldwide. Everything is lining up for a similar result, too, as this weekend nearly matched the debut of the initial film, and foreign receipts are already over $100 million.
3. Oculus — $12 million ($12 mil)
Expectations were not too high for this respected supernatural feature given the blockbusters ahead of it, but discount distributor Relativity is not complaining. This was a film festival acquisition and with just a $5 million price tag, the company should be satisfied, as this follows its formula of making its margins with lower cost titles.
4. Draft Day — $9.75 million ($9.75 mil)
The Kevin Costner comeback continues…consummately? The one time A-lister has done sporadic work recently, but suddenly he is in every movie this year. Following his appearance in last summer’s Man of Steel, this becomes his THIRD title released in 2014, with one more still to go. It is as if he has moved from being a high price article found in a luxury boutique to more of a bulk item from Costco. Although, given the modest return on this sporting drama, maybe a better comparison would be Big Lots.
5. Divergent — $7.5 million ($124.9 mil; 4 Weeks)
The young-adult genre has fallen on hard times of late, so even the respectable returns on this title based on the book series have been regarded as a surprising success. While yes, The Hunger Games has been a printing press for money, others in the category have been more of the Mortal Instruments type of disappointing. Lionsgate feels so good about this enterprise though that after greenlighting the completion of the book trilogy adaptation, this week they took the next step and announced that they would split the final book into a 2-film finale.
6. Noah — $7.45 million ($84.87 million; 3 Weeks)
This has become a divisive movie among the audiences of either films or the source material. Positive reviews are one thing, but the studio spent plenty of time trying to court the religious audience to come out and see what is essentially assumed to have been a religious film. That was surprisingly difficult, made all the more so once devout attendees pointed out that the word “God” is not mentioned here at all. Given that the original story is centered upon the wrath of a disappointed deity, this kind of oversight is sure to rankle many of your hoped for audience.
7. God’s Not Dead — $5.48 million ($40 million; 4 Weeks)
And speaking to that decision, here is a tiny faith-based drama that has that debated word right there in the title and it is a surprise hit. Costing a paltry $2 million, it has been adding screens and drawing those ticket buyers who spurned the big studio epic.
8. The Grand Budapest Hotel — $4.05 million ($39.47 million; 6 Weeks)
Oh sure, you high-minded “serious” filmgoers are still giving this Wes Anderson darling good returns, Bravo! (Or, whatever it is you art house patrons say to each other.) It may become his second best performing title by next weekend, but it remains to be seen if it can top out as his best ever.
9. Muppets Most Wanted — $2.19 million ($45.67 million; 4 Weeks)
This makes for the second film in a row featuring the puppets that has failed to electrify the box office. The 2011 effort was a small hit, but not so this time around. This may just make back its budget, and the foreign returns are nothing to be impressed with, so making any kind of profit here seems slim at best.
10. Mr. Peabody & Sherman — $1.82 million ($105.21 million; 6 Weeks)
The history of adaptions of the Jay Ward cartoon cannon is very poor. This one makes for the the most successful of the lot, even as they departed greatly from the original cartoon shorts. It seems a losing venture for Fox, save for one detail: The foreign markets somehow generated over $140 million for this arcane enterprise.
Falling Off: Sabotage
Arnold Schwarzenegger may need to contemplate deeply his cinematic future. This latest action effort by the former action titan matches the dismal performance of last year’s The Last Stand. After debuting an embarrassing #7, he falls out of the top-10 in just the third week after shedding over 1,700 screens, and barely grossing $10 million.