Need for Speed Lacks Fuel at Weekend Box Office
By John Hamann
March 16, 2014
Finishing second is last weekend’s number one film, 300: Rise of an Empire. The fact that Need for Speed didn’t open in number one or number two is bad. The even worse thing is that the 300 sequel imploded in its second frame. After debuting to $45 million, 300: Rise of an Empire earned only $19.1 million this weekend, good for a hefty drop of 58%. The original 300 fell 54% in its second weekend, but opened $35 million higher than the sequel. Given these amounts, the sequel should have held better than the original, but didn’t. Currently, it looks like Rise of an Empire will exceed $100 million at the domestic box office if it can improve its percentage drop next weekend, but looks to earn about half of the $210.6 million the original earned. On the overseas front, the original earned a more muted $245 million, an amount the original may match, given its $87 million overseas debut last weekend. This one cost $110 million to bring to the screen, and a worldwide total of $330 million should be in the cards. 300: Rise of an Empire has earned $78.3 million so far at the domestic box office.
Third is Need for Speed, the $66 million video game adaptation made by DreamWorks and released by Disney. The Aaron Paul starrer opened to a slim $6.6 million on Friday, a number that goes even lower considering that $1.1 million of that was earned on Thursday night. Marketed like crazy, Need for Speed failed to connect with audiences as the weekend tally came in at $17.8 million from 3,115 venues. Studios should have learned by now that video game adaptions are bad ideas, whether you are Super Mario Bros. ($8.5 million opening, $20 million domestic, $48 million cost), Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within ($11.4 million opening, $32.1 million total, $140 million cost) or Street Fighter ($6.8 million opening, $33 million finish, $35 million budget). Even with Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, Paramount lost money on both films after all costs are considered.
I can’t fathom why Aaron Paul would have chosen Need for Speed after coming off of the critically acclaimed Breaking Bad. Reviews were horrific and the badness of this should have been present at the script-only stage. At Rotten Tomatoes, Need for Speed gathered 129 reviews and only 27 were positive, resulting in a fresh rating of only 22%, lower than Pompeii and Son of God. The B+ Cinemascore provides a little relief, but again, with Aaron Paul up front and Need for Speed fans there on opening night, the Cinemascore is not a helpful bellwether in determining the future of the film. Need for Speed was expected to earn $25 million this weekend, but crashes instead. It is not ikely to get back on the road after this weekend.
Non-Stop has another solid frame this weekend, as the Universal thriller enjoys its third weekend with another double-digit gross. The Liam Neeson actioner earned another $10.6 million and fell a respectable 33% compared to last weekend. Made for only $50 million, Non-Stop has now earned $68.8 million stateside, and may be Universal’s third $100 million release of 2014, after Ride Along and Lone Survivor. Non-Stop moved past Liam Neeson’s other, recent, non-Taken action films, as The Grey earned $51.6 million and The Unknown earned $63.7 million. Next up for Neeson is A Million Ways to Die In the West, the new film from the creator of Ted and Family Guy, Seth MacFarlane.