Weekend Wrap-Up

Box Office Lacks Focus; Low Point for 2015

By John Hamann

March 1, 2015

Thank goodness February is over, am I right?

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Will Smith says he no longer cares about box office, following the implosion of After Earth. Oddly enough, After Earth didn’t really implode at the box office. Sure, it cost $130 million to make, and only earned $60 million domestically, but it was a worldwide earner of $243 million, and while it didn’t make its marketing costs back, it wasn’t that big of a production side loser (see: Blackhat - $70 million budget, $17 million worldwide gross).

Reviews for Focus were of the middling variety - nothing offensive or dire, and none really glowing. It came in at 56% fresh at RottenTomatoes, with 80 to the good and 63 to the bad at the time of this writing. The Cinemascore was also a middling B, which would be good news except for the fact that After Earth earned exactly the same score. Focus was made for $50 million, an amount it should earn stateside before finding a decent profit from overseas theaters. Smith is still a superstar internationally.

The race for second will likely be decided when actual numbers are released, as three films are closely bunched together currently. Estimated to be in second place is Kingsman: The Secret Service, which has held significantly better than fellow opener Fifty Shades of Grey. In its third frame, Kingsman earned $11.8 million, which means it was off 46% from last weekend’s $18.3 million haul. The $81 million actioner from Fox is heating it up both here and away, as it has a running tally of $85.7 million on the domestic side, and has just reached the $100 million mark overseas. The results for Kingsman are good news in general, as this is an expensive, non-sequel idea. After the carnage caused by Jupiter Ascending, we needed a strong original to come forward.


The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water winds up in third place according to estimates, meaning that it slipped ahead of Fifty Shades of Grey this weekend. The SpongeBob animated flick earned $11.2 million, down a decent 32%. This weekend’s earnings bring The SpongeBob Movie's domestic haul up to $140.3 million and with another $75 million overseas, the $74 million-budgeted movie will be a good investment for Paramount and Nickelodeon.

Estimated at number four, then, is Fifty Shades of Grey, which spends another weekend in freefall despite righting the ship a little compared to last weekend, when it fell 74%. The BDSM blockbuster earned another $10.9 million and was off 51% from the previous frame, when Fifty Shades was able to blame the Oscars for its precipitous drop. The total now for the tawdry title has reached $147.8 million domestically, not great considering its $85.2 million opening a few weekends ago. The $40 million film is still a windfall for Universal and partners, as it has earned more than $330 million overseas and is already approaching the half-billion mark worldwide.

Fifth goes to The Lazarus Effect, which failed to engage its target audience this weekend. Made back in 2013, Lazarus was originally going to be a Lionsgate release, but eventually landed at Relativity, which seems to be the go-to studio for low budget releases (Woman in Black 2, Black or White). The Lazarus Effect had decent stars with Olivia Wilde (House) and Mark Duplass (the awesome Safety Not Guaranteed), but they couldn’t get it together to make this Dr. Frankenstein horror flick work. The Lazarus Effect opened on 2,666 screens and could only manage an opening frame of $10.6 million. Critics hated it (14% fresh) and so did audiences (C- Cinemascore), so I think we can all move along and hope for better from both stars going forward.

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