Chappie Short Circuits, Unfinished Business Implodes
By John Hamann
March 8, 2015
Sony spent a moderate $50 million making Chappie, an improvement on the $115 million spent on Elysium, as that one opened to $29.8 million and took in $93 million domestically, but found $286 million worldwide (likely not profitable after marketing expenses). This time around, with the smaller budget, Chappie likely needs to find $150 million worldwide to get to the black, so it has a long way to go. I am looking forward to what Blomkamp does with the recently announced Alien sequel, as it will likely force him out of the similar themes presented in District 9, Elysium and now Chappie, which was based on a short film he made years ago. Here’s hoping for a better result.
After a soft opening, Will Smith’s Focus was looking for legs, and had an opportunity this weekend due to poor results from the new releases. Unfortunately, the con man rom-com did not hold, and after an $18.7 million debut, it falls an unrecoverable 46% to $10 million in its second frame. Warner Bros. has to be thrilled they spent only $50 million on Focus, as even with worldwide results, this one has a long way to go to get out of the red. The B Cinemascore is rearing its ugly head this weekend, and with a gross so far of only $34.6 million, Focus looks like it will top out at around $55 million, which would be the lowest gross of Will Smith’s career where he was the name above the title.
Third spot is the only good news story at the box office this weekend. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel got off to a great start considering it was released to only 1,573 venues. The octogenarian dramedy earned a weekend take of $8.6 million from that low screen count, giving it a decent venue average of $5,467 – the best in the top 10. The first film in the series was a hit – it was a platform release in 2012 that played as strong counter-programming to summer blockbusters, and earned $46.4 million despite never finishing higher than sixth at the weekend box office. It cost only $10 million to make, received good reviews, and played forever, earning more than $1 million for 9 consecutive weekends. It also grossed $90 million away from home, making it a worldwide hit at $138 million.
The sequel to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel continues the success of the original, but brings more dollars than the original did in its first three weekends of platform release. Reviews were again good at 64% fresh, but down a bit from the original (74% fresh). The Cinemascore was a B+, which indicates that this one could see similar legs that the first one did. While budget data is unavailable, one would have to surmise that this one cost double the original, but even at $20 million, Marigold 2 is in very good shape to finish as strong as the original did.
Fourth goes to Kingsman: The Secret Service, now in its fourth weekend. The British spy thriller with a twist earned another $8.3 million this weekend, and drops a relatively small 30%. Since opening, the Matthew Vaughn flick has played strong, starting with $36.2 million before dropping 49% and 35%. The take this weekend brings the total for the $81 million Fox release up to $98 million, with $100 million to be surpassed over the next couple of days. Kingsman has also pulled in $133 million overseas, putting this one in position to provide a sequel.