No Great Flood to See Noah; Sabotage Drowns
By John Hamann
March 30, 2014
It is a weekend of okay results at the box office, but there is nothing really to see here, despite Noah opening, the second weekend of Divergent, expansions of The Grand Budapest Hotel and God’s Not Dead, and another Schwarzenegger effort. At least now I know I can stay home tonight and watch The Walking Dead finale.
Despite Glenn Beck being vehemently against Noah, it still opened right where it was expected to this weekend. The $125 million Paramount biblical epic, with its "tempest in a teacup" controversy, still managed to open decently this weekend, but its legs are going to be suspect. The story of the great flood had Russell Crowe hoping to complete his most recent comeback, and it got a decent start on Thursday night with $1.6 million. Thursday comparisons are very tough, as some films open at 10 p.m., some at midnight, or in the case of Noah, at 7:00 p.m., which allowed for at least two showings per theater that night. Considering the so-called controversy, I thought the $1.6 million was soft.
The full Friday number came in at $15.2 million, but once the Thursday number was removed, the true Friday box office figure for Noah was actually $13.6 million. This is a number that is truly neither good nor bad. Noah had a bigger Friday than my favorite religious movie, The Matrix, which had a first Friday of $9.4 million, but much smaller than 2012 ($23.4 million), or the old religious go-to, The Passion of the Christ ($22.9 million first Friday). What we did learn from the Friday gross was that audiences hate it as it received only a C Cinemascore (might as well say F), but we can never really be sure who the Cinemascore people asked, or if there was a motivation behind which audience members they asked. From my reading, it appears that faith-based moviegoers do not like Noah (how dare they!), and regular audiences were more allowing. The C Cinemascore has to be concerning for Paramount, as this one is going to need some legs, as I doubt the profits from Noah 2 are going to prop up the original (yes, I’m looking at you Divergent).
The Saturday number came in at $17.6 million, a solid number for a film like this. The question was whether faith-based moviegoers would flock to Noah on Sunday, like they did for The Passion of the Christ. The studio issued a weekend estimate of $44 million for Noah, right on par with where tracking was predicting it would fall. Noah had a weekend multiplier of 2.9, which indicates that on Sunday, faith-based filmgoers gave Noah the collective shrug, and stayed home and watched basketball and The Walking Dead. The opening for this one is unfortunately forgettable, neither really good or really bad. Compared to its production cost of $125 million, the opening has to be troubling for Paramount as the biblical epic will likely top out at $120 million domestic, which means it will need $200 million plus overseas to see a profit. While that is completely attainable (it has already earned $51 million overseas), I don’t see Noah launching a series of biblical Cecil B. DeMille religious epics. Massive amount of profits are not going to be there; therefore, studios will go back to focusing on superhero movies or bad remakes of better films. Exodus opens in December with Christian Bale as Moses, and 20th Century Fox is going to need to cut a better trailer than Paramount did for Noah.