By Edwin Davies
September 15, 2014
The US box office got a little bit of a shakeup this weekend as some new films managed to break the Guardians of the Galaxy/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stranglehold that has been in place for the better part of two months. Sadly, the international scene remains pretty static, as evidenced by the fact that the only new entries in the top ten are films that have been out for months in some territories.
As with last week, Luc Besson's Lucy dominated, and pretty handily. The modestly budgeted action phenomenon earned another $25 million, much of which came from a huge $9.6 million debut in Russia, bringing its total to date to a simply magnificent $231 million. I'm running out of superlatives to hurl at this one, and in future weeks I might have to just start mashing the keyboard and hope that a new word emerges that can adequately convey how well this film is doing.
In a somewhat distant second is Into The Storm, which added another $14.2 million as it slowly closes in on a $100 international haul. It's heartening to see that people can still get a kick out of the simple pleasures of non-shark tornadoes.
The Expendables III and Sex Tape are in a dead heat in third and fourth place as both films earned $11.5 million. The Stallone action film has $140 million to date, which means that it has a shot at earning over $200 million globally within a few weeks. It'll still fall well below the $274.5 million and $305.4 million that the first and second Expendables earned, but the chances of a fourth Expendables movie look mildly better this week than they have for the last few. Emphasis on “mildly.”
Sex Tape, meanwhile, has earned $61 million so far, dwarfing the $38.2 million that it took in US theaters. That'll probably go a long way to helping the Cameron Diaz-Jason Segel vehicle recoup its $40 million budget and whatever it cost to advertise it, but probably won't do much to alter the perception that it was, at best, a disappointment or, at worst, a flat-out disaster.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is anything but a disappointment, as the frighteningly ugly reboot added $10.5 million and has a total so far of $138.9 million as it continues its surprisingly slow rollout (“surprising” because this is a Michael Bay project we're talking about, and that dude is not known for his patience).
Divergent, the marginally less successful of the two Shailene Woodley YA adaptations we've seen this year, marks its first appearance in this column by adding $10 million and has a pretty solid foreign total of $135.4 million (which is pretty far back from The Fault in Our Stars, which has earned $174.3 million). That's in line with what happened with the first Hunger Games movie, which made more domestically than internationally, then saw significant growth when it came time for the sequel. The producers of Divergent are probably hoping for the same progression, because these aren't great numbers for a sci-fi movie based on a popular novel.
Places seven eight and nine are occupied by films that have been kicking around the chart for weeks now. Hercules continues to draw foreign fans of lion-based headwear as it managed to extract $9.6 million from them, and has earned $138.5 million so far; Dawn of the Planet of the Apes continues to run up the score on its stellar run by taking $9.5 million and bringing its total to $464 million; and deposed US champ Guardians of the Galaxy just squeaks into the Top Ten with $9.3 million. It might drop out of the top 10 next week, but it should rebound significantly once it hits China next month.
In 10th this week is the Japanese film Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends, which is the third film in a series of live-action adaptations of a popular manga about a former assassin who becomes a hero. it earned $8.5 million from Japan alone, which is very good and probably puts a damper on Guardians of the Galaxy's Japanese debut.
Two films that are being positioned as potential hits in the US in the coming weeks had their international debuts this week. The Maze Runner opened in five territories and earned a very strong $8.3 million. Meanwhile, The Boxtrolls, the latest film from the people who brought you Coraline and ParaNorman, opened in eight territories and took in a decent $5.7 million. Whether that will translate into US success remains to be seen, but they are encouraging early signs since they suggest that the two films will find an audience outside of the US even if they struggle at home.