What happens when you combine a movie-going long weekend with Valentine’s Day on a Friday? Huge dollars rolling through movie theaters, despite a blizzard of Olympic-sized proportions.
Lego, Last Night Find Valentine Success
By John Hamann
February 16, 2014
I have been curious for a while as to how this weekend at the box office was going to shape up. We haven’t had Valentine’s Day on a Friday since 2003, and then 1997 before that. In 2003, studios didn’t seem to realize the power of the biggest date night of year landing on a Friday, as Fox released Daredevil, and despite its incredibly bad buzz and mockery, it still managed to earn $40 million over three days. The other new release was The Jungle Book 2, a film that would have likely gone straight to DVD now, which opened to $11 million. Eleven years later, Hollywood is trying a new approach, releasing THREE Valentine’s Day films – About Last Night, Winter’s Tale and Endless Love – hoping to capitalize on the big day. Why? Because the 18% fresh Valentine’s Day opened to $56.3 million in 2010. This movie was a turd, and it still grossed a sizzling $23.4 million on Sunday, which in that year was Valentine’s Day. It had one of the worst opening-to-total multipliers ever at 1.96, but made the studio a bucket load of cash.
At the other end of the spectrum, it is also President’s Day weekend, so while the romantic movies played well on Friday, other films were looking forward to having what plays like two Saturdays over the long weekend. The Lego Movie positioned itself well, seeing the sweet spot and hammering it. New release Robocop opened Wednesday, hoping to spread the love over the long weekend, and sacrificing Friday. Holdovers like The Monuments Men and Ride Along were looking for the same effect. In the end, we have one of the bigger February weekends ever, led by the absolute monster that is The Lego Movie.
Yes, our number one movie of the weekend is The Lego Movie, which repeats on top after last weekend’s massive $69.1 million opening weekend. After opening so big last weekend, Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow wanted to keep the momentum going this weekend. They likely were expecting a slower Friday due to Valentine’s Day, and then having the film pop for the kids over Saturday and Sunday. That wasn’t the case, as the Friday number for The Lego Movie was huge, at $13 million, off only 24% from last Friday, and that number was inflated somewhat due to Thursday previews. If it matched last weekend’s internal multiplier (weekend gross divided by Friday gross) of 4.04, The Lego Movie was set to pull in $52.6 million for the weekend.
On Saturday, The Lego Movie earned $20.5 million, an increase over Saturday of $7.5 million. Last weekend, the animated hit jumped 80% from Friday-to-Saturday, earning $30 million Saturday before dropping 31% on Sunday. This time around, the drop was less on Sunday, and The Lego Movie earned a stellar $48.8 million from Friday-to-Sunday, and will likely earn Sunday’s gross again on Monday. I can’t hit the huge button enough on this one, as The Lego Movie continues to shock and surprise me. The weekend to weekend drop is only 29%, and pretty much guarantees a $225 million plus debut for this soon-to-be franchise. If this weekend’s gross were the opening gross for The Lego Movie, it would be the fifth biggest February take of all time.
The Lego Movie crossed the $100 million mark on Saturday morning, its eighth day, the same amount of time it took fellow animated films like Finding Nemo, Brave and WALL-E. It still has two more weekends of zero competition, and Mr. Peabody and Sherman don’t show up until March 7th. The Lego Movie will see a higher drop next weekend, but it has a 10 day gross of $129.1 million, which is more than even the most bullish analyst expected. This is a good movie, one that appears to be crossing demographic groups, and is being consumed by all. It is just getting started overseas, where it has pulled in $18 million so far.
The success this weekend doesn’t stop with The Lego Movie, as a very healthy second goes to About Last Night, with newly minted superstar Kevin Hart, amongst others. The Screen Gems remake of the '80s film, or re-imagining of the stage play Sexual Perversity in Chicago, tied with The Lego Movie on Friday, also earning $13 million on Valentine’s Day. Unlike The Lego Movie, About Last Night peaked on Friday, but was still able to record an impressive weekend gross of $27 million, and did it despite appearing on only 2,253 screens, or 1,522 fewer than The Lego Movie. The Screen Gems release earned an impressive venue average of $11,984, and gives Kevin Hart his second $25 million plus opener in the space of only five weekends.
While I could go on about Kevin Hart, the real stars here are Screen Gems and Will Packer, the producer of About Last Night, Ride Along and Think Like A Man, all of which starred Hart. Two of those three movies were from Screen Gems (Ride Along was Universal). Will Packer and Screen Gems have an uncanny knack for opening low budget movies and making real dollars after only one weekend. Think Like A Man opened to $33.6 million and cost $12 million; Obsessed, with Beyoncé, opened to $28.6 million and cost $20 million; This Christmas opened to $18 million and cost $13 million; and Stomp the Yard opened to $21 million and cost $13 million. In the case of About Last Night, the cost here was $13 million, an amount it earned on opening day. Tracking was looking for only $23 million over four days from this one, so to do $4 million better over three days is an impressive task.
Finishing third is Sony’s remake of Robocop, a film I wished they had stayed away from, as in my mind, remaking Robocop is like remaking Jaws. The 2013 version of Robocop got started on Wednesday, earning a poor $2.8 million, but the film was able to come back from that low score as the weekend wore on. The Thursday number was even lower at $2.1 million, and Sony executives must have been sweating over a film that cost $100 million to bring to the screen. Things improved on Friday, despite this one obviously not being a Valentine’s Day release. It earned $7 million on Friday, an increase of over 200%, and was able to turn the Friday into a weekend gross of $21.5 million, and a five-day take of $26.4 million. While decent, this is still likely $20 million less than Sony was hoping for from opening weekend.
The good news for Robocop is that this one is already popping overseas, and is approaching $30 million in territories outside of the United States and Canada already. It has a long way to go, though, as Robocop will likely need $275 million worldwide to see any kind of profit after marketing costs are added to that $100 million cost to bring it to the screen. Reviews won’t help much, as they are split down the middle; however, the B+ Cinemascore might mean it’s working for fans of the genre. We will know a lot more about the future of Robocop by the time next weekend rolls around.
Fourth goes to last weekend’s other opener, The Monuments Men, which had a decent hold thanks to the long weekend, and a big day on Friday. The Monuments Men took in $15 million and was off 32% compared to its debut frame. The $70 million film should match its production budget stateside, and then, given the international appeal of the stars, should do very well away from North America.
Endless Love, our third '80s remake of the weekend, finishes fifth. Really just a Valentine’s confection, Endless Love had a decent Friday ($7.3 million), finishing ahead of Robocop, but then faded as the weekend went on. In the end, the Universal release had a decent three-day gross of $13.4 million from 2,896 venues. Reviews were as bad as expected (14% fresh), but those that love this kind of thing showed up and liked it (A- Cinemascore). Had it opened alone this weekend, Endless Love may have flown, but with all of the busy theaters, Universal should be happy with what it has. This one cost $20 million to make, so the studio will be content with a $45 million finish.
Sixth spot goes to Ride Along, and if numbers are accurate, it grossed more this Friday ($3.4 million) than it did last Friday ($2.6 million). In the end, Ride Along benefits from the lack of romantic comedies in the top ten (and Kevin Hart appears in both of them). Ride Along took in $8.8 million, down just 9% compared to the previous frame. It has a total domestic gross now of $116.1 million, against a production budget of only $25 million.
Seventh is Winter’s Tale, our last opener. Like Endless Love, Winter was eviscerated by the critics, and couldn’t overcome a poor marketing campaign and bad buzz heading into the weekend, despite a decent cast. Winter’s Tale took in $7.8 million over its opening frame for Warner Bros., and will have to work hard over the next few weekends if it hopes to match its $45 million budget stateside. This is the other Warner Bros./Village Roadshow combo in the top ten, so The Lego Movie will have to make up for the expected financial shortfall from Winter’s Tale.
Eighth is Frozen, and like Ride Along, Frozen perks up again this weekend thanks to the holidays. Frozen earned another $5.9 million this weekend, down 15% compared to last weekend’s take. Now in its 12th wide weekend, Frozen has earned $376 million stateside, and $580 million from overseas venues.
The rest of the top ten are the also-rans, as Lone Survivor, everyone’s favorite Valentine’s film, grossed $4.1 million and dropped 27%. It has earned $118.4 million stateside against a $40 million budget. That Awkward Moment lands in tenth with a gross of $3.3 million. That’s off 36% from last weekend, but brings the gross up to $21.4 million against an $8 million production budget. Finally, Vampire Academy finishes outside the top ten with $1.9 million, as it drops 51% compared to last weekend.
Overall, the box office is white hot, thanks the alignment of holidays. The top 12 pulled in a massive $160.4 million, which compares very well against last year’s top 12 which took in $126.1 million. Next weekend should be quieter, as Sony TriStar releases Pompeii, and Relativity opens 3 Days to Kill starring Kevin Costner.