Maze Runs Box Office Up From Tombstones of Early September
By John Hamann
September 21, 2014
Liam Neeson and A Walk Among the Tombstones slips into second this weekend, but not with the box office "pop" of a typical Liam Neeson release. I thought the marketing was really soft for this actioner, and the result is in the weekend box office as Universal dropped the ball with this release. After earning less than half a million from Thursday previews, Tombstones finished Friday with a gross of only $4.7 million, less than half of the first Friday of Neeson’s last big action flick, Non-Stop ($10.1 million Friday, $28.9 million opening weekend). Given that Neeson is one of the bigger action stars on the planet right now, I’m not sure why Universal seemed to hold back on announcing this one to the masses.
With the soft Friday and the target demographic being older males, A Walk Among the Tombstones didn’t come back much over the weekend proper, leaving Universal with a weak opening for a Liam Neeson film. Tombstones debuted at a muted 2,712 venues, and earned only $13.1 million, giving Neeson his second consecutive miss after appearing in after appearing in Seth MacFarlane’s mistake, A Million Ways to Die in the West, which earned only $42.7 million domestically. It is also his lowest debut since 2010’s The Next Three Days, in which he co-starred with Russell Crowe (and Crowe received top billing – Neeson was barely mentioned in the marketing material). That one debuted to only $6.5 million, and Neeson wasn’t to blame.
Reviews for A Walk Among the Tombstones were the best of the openers, but weren’t fantastic either. The Universal release earned a 66% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, with "top critics" at only 56%, and the Cinemascore came in low as well. A Walk Among the Tombstones earned a B- Cinemascore, which is again very low for the lead actor, and will likely affect legs going forward. A Walk Amongst the Tombstones cost $28 million to make, so Universal and partners won’t have to sweat this one too much. It should make a splash overseas after topping out domestically with about $35 million.
This Where I Leave You is third, and considering a cast that includes Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Jane Fonda and Adam Driver and the fact that it was directed by Night at the Museum’s Shawn Levy, one might have thought this should have done better and been a better film. This Where I Leave You earned $11.9 million from 2,868 venues for Warner Bros., a figure I see as low due to the cast and director, but one that will look good on paper considering the $20 million budget. This Is Where I Leave You had the lowest reviews of the weekend, with critics coming in at only 54% fresh, and "top critics" again lower at 44%. It did earn a B+ Cinemascore, which will be good news for the partners behind this one.
With three new releases, the fourth and fifth spots go to last weekend’s number one and number two films. No Good Deed falls to fourth this weekend, and after blazing forward last weekend with $24.3 million, its fortunes plummet hard in its second frame as it can only pick up $10.2 million. That equals a big drop of 58%, but don’t forget, this is from Screen Gems, so it didn’t cost much to make. Its budget was $13 million, and the film has a gross so far of $40.1 million. It's going to end up just fine.