Friday Box Office Analysis

By David Mumpower

April 19, 2014

The future is not now.

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Where does Transcendence go from here? A $4.8 million Friday probably leads to a $13 million weekend. That will not be the story that the distributor pushes. Because Warner Bros. recognized that the tracking for Transcendence was shaky, they deftly determined to perform a day and date global release. The rest of the world has proven time and again to be less discriminating in their movie taste. Even if it proves much more popular abroad, this project will be remembered as an abject disaster domestically.

With regards to Heaven Is for Real, faith-based cinema wins yet again. We know from Rake’s ratings that people are not watching because they love Greg Kinnear. The final two episodes of that Fox program received 2.02 million viewers. In total. Yes, Rake was an eyelash away from becoming the rare network television new episode to garner fewer than one million viewers. Because faith-based cinema is on a hot streak, however, this film has muscled its way to about a $20.3 million weekend. Yowza.

BOP occasionally discusses the positive reinforcement nature of box office. When a consumer is rewarded with a great product, they are enticed to watch another movie sooner than would have been the case otherwise. We are witnessing such a phenomenon here as Son of God, God’s Not Dead and (arguably) Noah have effectively targeted an audience that has been too often ignored by Hollywood. Given the four consecutive hits (Noah is over $250 million worldwide already), we will see more of the same as upstarts continue to mine big data to micro-target under-served consumers.


The other new release of the weekend, A Haunted House 2, is also a cost-effective hit. Costing only $3 million to produce, the latest Wayans family satire grossed $4 million yesterday and is headed toward a $10 million weekend. On the downside, the first film garnered $6.8 million on its first day in theaters. The weak quality of the original clearly damaged its successor. Still, there are not a lot of movies that have already grossed a factor of three more than their production budget after opening weekend. A Haunted House 2 should be profitable, making it the envy of Johnny Depp.

The battle for first place on Friday was tightly contested. Captain America: The Winter Soldier bested Rio 2 by the slimmest of margins. Each title effectively grossed $9.7 million, meaning that the weekend champion will be determined by which film experiences a stronger hold on Saturday and Sunday. Comparing last weekend’s hold for Captain America against Rio 2 and also Rio, the dude with the shield is clearly the favorite. For whatever reason, Rio movies have a bit of Friday rush early in their release and then develop stronger holds in later weeks. As such, I project The Winter Soldier to win. Remember that Sunday is Easter, and that holiday does have a tendency to impact the box office negatively. Expect about $26.5 million for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and $25.2 million for Rio 2.

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