SpongeBob Surprises; Sniper Down
By John Hamann
February 8, 2015
Reviews for SpongeBob were also very positive, at 74%, slightly better at this point than the 2004 original, which received a 68% score. Nickelodeon was smart having Paul Tibbet direct and write the story for the film, as he has been writing for the series since 1999. Should the sequel match the opening-to-total multiplier of the original (2.66), Paramount is looking at $135 million domestic from their $74 million feature. That tells me SpongeBob would only need another $75 to 100 million from overseas theaters to see a profit, where it has $8 million already. Eleven years after the original, I expect at least twice what the first film made, which will make this a very lucrative entry for Paramount and Nickelodeon.
Finishing second this weekend is American Sniper, now in its fourth weekend of release and its seventh frame overall. After a $30.7 million Super Bowl weekend (where it saw the biggest drop of its run so far at 53%), Sniper held much better this weekend with no football, earning $24.2 million and falling only 21%. Sniper has brought its domestic gross up to $282.3 million – a truly surprising amount. What is even more surprising is that Sniper had earned another $68.3 million overseas prior to the start of the weekend, which is not the norm for an American war film. The Bradley Cooper release is looking like it will come in with $325 million domestic, which would put it into the top 35 earners of all time. Remember, this one cost $60 million to make, so Warner Bros. has a complete windfall on its hands.
Third spot goes to Jupiter Ascending, the new film from the Wachowski siblings that cost $176 million to make. Financed by Village Roadshow and Warner Bros., The Wachowskis were looking to combine the thrill and concept of The Matrix with the epic storytelling of Cloud Atlas, and instead just made a mess. But what a beautiful mess it is. Jupiter Ascending took in $6.4 million on Friday night and we don’t have to look any further than that to see huge losses coming on this one. Over the weekend proper, the Mila Kunis/Channing Tatum starrer earned $19 million, sealing its doom – at least on the domestic front. Warner Bros. opened Jupiter at 3,181 venues, but not even IMAX and a big count could save this one.
Abysmal reviews and loud delays doomed Jupiter Ascending. In this day and age there is no hiding the when a film needs reshoots to get to release and then is delayed six months so that the filmmakers can finish the special effects (translation: it did poorly in test screenings). Its original release date was July 18, 2014, and the move to February left three lesser films room to duke it out on their own. Without a big release on the schedule, another weekend during Summer 2014 pulled an epic fail. Had the release date held, Jupiter Ascending still wouldn’t have blown anyone away, but the debut would likely have been double what we saw this weekend, and the damage would be less.
Reviews didn’t help, as Jupiter Ascending is only 22% fresh at RottenTomatoes, with only 33 good reviews out of a possible 116. Most reviewers found it to be beautifully made, but say that the story lacked any of the originality of The Matrix. The Cinemascore wasn’t much better at B-, which indicates this one is going down in flames quickly. Hope for Jupiter is still small, though. It must be noted that Cloud Atlas, with its C+ Cinemascore and similarly poor reviews, earned $103 million overseas after a $32 million failure stateside. If this one can get to $40 million stateside and then earn $150 million overseas, the pain will be much less for the companies involved.