Looking at the Box Office Top Ten this week, you’d think we were still in the 1980s. Four new openers include three remakes of ’80s hits, another an adaptation of a major novel from the decade. Another familiar pop culture artifact from the period – Legos – returned as the top film this weekend, as Warner Bros.’ animated 3D film extension of the children’s toy continues its strong run in its second weekend.
“About Last Night” (Sony) was best among the retreads, reinforcing Kevin Hart’s strong recent run. “RoboCop” (also Sony, who scored three of the top four slots this weekend, with another film, “Pompeii” opening next) fared less well, at least in North America, while Universal’s “Endless Love,” the third remake, lagged behind.
The one clear flop was Warner Bros.’ literary best seller adaptation “Winter’s Tale,” mired in a weak 7th place. All (except for “RoboCop”) were aimed for the Friday Valentine’s Day crowd. Unusual for most weekends, Friday was by far the top-grossing day of the weekend, as overall totals for the Top Ten came to $156 million, up an impressive $35 million from last year (when Valentine’s fell on Thursday), with the year now up 11.5% in its early stages.
1. “The Lego Movie” (Warner Bros.) Week 2 – Last weekend #1
$48,810,000 (-29%) in 3,775 theaters (unchanged); PSA (per screen average): $12,930; Cumulative: $129,113,000
Through its second Sunday of wide release, “The Lego Movie” is just $5 million under what “Frozen” was at that point — and the latter had two extra days (with a pre-Thanksgiving opening and a holiday boost). That doesn’t mean that “Lego” will equal Disney’s phenomenal take for its animated smash, but it does confirm that 2014 has its first big hit, with the three-day 29% drop showing that positive audience response after initial wide interest should take this to at least a $250 million domestic haul, which would make it second only to “The Passion of the Christ” among releases from the first two months of any year.
What comes next: After a strong Monday with matinees and nothing new competing for kids until “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” on March 7, this might have a four-week run at #1.
2. About Last Night (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 62
$27,000,000 in 2,253 theaters; PSA: $11,984; Cumulative: $27,000,000
While it entered the weekend as the co-favorite to open best, this Los Angeles-set remake of the 1986 adaptation of David Mamet’s “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” scored an easy win among newcomers despite playing at hundreds fewer theaters than any other opener. This underscores the draw of star Kevin Hart, his second big opening of the year after “Ride Along.” Produced for a dirt-cheap $12.5 million by Sony’s Screen Gems unit, this one-time TriStar hit, the directorial debut of Edward Zwick starring Rob Lowe and Demi Moore at the height of their appeal, grossed in adjusted totals $87 million back then. Unlike fellow 1980s romance remake “Endless Love,” this looks like a second-time hit.
Apart from reinforcing Hart’s star status, this is also a breakout effort for director Steve Pink, whose biggest earlier film was “Hot Tub Time Machine” ($50 million total after a $14 million opening), and another low-budget success for producers Will Gluck (“Easy A,” “Friends With Benefits”) and Will Packer (previously partnered with Hart).
What comes next: The audience reaction (despite the Saturday drop after the big Valentines’ opening) will determine how much bigger this gets. This looks like it could have enough draw to become a significant mid-level success.
3. “RoboCop” (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: B+ ; Criticwire: C+; Metacritic: 52
$21,500,000 in 3,372 theaters; PSA: $6,376; Cumulative: $26,400,000.
Sony stumbled in 2012 with its remake of “Total Recall,” a Paul Verhoeven-directed futuristic sci–fi actioner, but went ahead with this $100-million redo of another even bigger Verhoeven hit. With a mid-week opening adding to its early take (early foreign returns are decent so far), it is slightly ahead of “Recall”‘s mid-summer start. This marks a disappointing domestic result. Whether its PG-13 rating widened the audience or suggested a softening of the R-rated cult favorite is uncertain, but this has a long way to go to match the first’s 1987 $114 million adjusted gross.
Directed by Brazilian Jose Padilha (“Bus 174” and the two “Elite Squad” films), the new “RoboCop” is co-produced by frequent Sony partner MGM (who acquired the film when they purchased Orion’s library in the 1990s — this remake has been a long-time coming). The initial domestic shortfall (international may tell a different story) suggests yet again that the base bread-and-butter audience for genre entries (seen recently with horror films) has fallen flat as younger audiences either are choosing different movies or, particularly among young males, not showing up at all.
What comes next: This needs to show a terrific hold next weekend or else might have to settle for a subpar gross that will make it tricky to break even.
4. The Monuments Men (Sony) Week 2 – Last weekend #2
$15,000,000 (-32%) in 3,083 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $4,865; Cumulative: $43,670,000
Continuing to perform above expectations for the second week, and boosted by the holiday weekend, George Clooney’s World War II art-heist caper is showing some strength, particularly from adults who have moved on from the multiple Oscar nominees in release. As disappointing as its reviews were, the appeal of the cast (Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon and others joining Clooney), this already is the biggest grossing of its director’s films.
What comes next: Domestic looks likely to get over $75 million, with expected strong international returns likely to turn this into a modest success.
5. Endless Love (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Criticwire: C-; Metacritic: 31
$13,400,000 in 2,896 theaters; PSA: $5,265; Cumulative: $13,400,000
Falling a distant second to “About Last Night” among the romantic films available and third overall for new releases, this looks like it will not remotely match the impact of the first adaptation of Scott Spencer’s novel of young mismatched-love. Franco Zefferelli’s 1981 film starring Brooke Shields (at the height of her career) did $93 million (adjusted for inflation) three decades back. This new version, directed by Shana Feste (“Country Strong”), a rare studio wide release with a female director, was economically produced ($20 million) and looks to have attracted the younger female audience it desired, with a decent A- Cinemascore. But, as a wide range of recent films across different genres have shown, mid/teen-young adult audiences no longer can sustain an opening as was the case when the first version appeared. Leads Alex Pettyfer (best known for his role in the “Magic Mike” ensemble) and newcomer Gabriella Wilde (supporting in “Carrie”) failed to bring the star-impact of the 1981 film.
What comes next: This was boosted by V-Day on Friday. Unless this catches a wave of strong word of mouth, it could fall quickly.
6. “Ride Along” (Universal) Week 5 – Last weekend #3
$8,800,000 (-9%) in 2,517 theaters (-283); PSA: $3,480; Cumulative: $116,133,000
Kevin Hart’s other hit continues its impressive run, down only 9%. The Academy missed a bet not picking him as its host for the Oscars – there is no bigger comedy star at the moment.
What comes next: Hart has a third 2014 film (“Think Like a Man Too”) coming in June from Sony.
7. “Winter’s Tale” (Warner Bros) – Cinemascore: B; Criticwire: C-; Metacritic: 31
$7,785,000 in 2,965 theaters; PSA: $2,626; Cumulative: $7,785,000
Mark Helprin’s 1983 novel was both a literary and commercial success, and has long gestated as a potential film (Martin Scorsese expressed interest at one point). Finally adapted by ace screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (“A Beautiful Mind,” some of the 1980s “Batman” films, “The Da Vinci Code” among many others) as his directorial debut, this multi-century New York set mystical love story is not an easy sell in today’s market. With mostly unfavorable reviews, it didn’t have much chance of success, so this gross isn’t particularly surprising, despite earlier expectations of something special.
Star Colin Farrell, undergoing something of a career relaunch (he also appeared in “Saving Mr. Banks”) hasn’t been the lead in many hits as of late — his best, “Total Recall,” didn’t reach $60 million in domestic gross (though it did manage $200 million worldwide). This was co-produced (as was “The Lego Movie”) with frequent Warners’ partner Village Roadshow for a reported just under $50 million, making the losses lesser than than might have been.
What comes next: This won’t make it easier to get challenging novels made, at least for theatrical consumption.
8. “Frozen” (Buena Vista) Week 13 – Last weekend #4
$5,855,000 (-15%) in 2,101 theaters (-359); PSA: $2,787; Cumulative: $376,046,000
This is the fifth holiday weekend (starting with Thanksgiving) for Disney’s massive hit, and it still fell only slightly. Nearing $1 billion worldwide, this might, when all revenues come in (this is a big moneymaker beyond its ticket sales) might become the biggest financial success among all 2013 releases.
What comes next: This still has its Oscar to collect, which won’t hurt upcoming weeks.
9. “Lone Survivor” (Universal) Week 8 – Last weekend #5
$4,076,000 in 2,013 theaters (-856); PSA; $1,940; Cumulative: $112,852,000
“Lone Survivor” is more than a title — it also describes the film’s status as the sole remaining Top 10 placer from all the films that opened in December aiming at awards contention. And despite falling short of that goal, it now has grossed more than most of them (including “The Wolf of Wall Street”) in its very impressive run so far.
What comes next: This should top out above $125 million.
10. “That Awkward Moment” (Focus) Week 3 – Last weekend #6
$3,337,000 (-36%) in 1,922 theaters (-887); PSA: $1,736; Cumulative: $21,400,000
With Valentine’s Day audiences making up for the big drop in theaters, this fourth romantic film in the top 10 managed to hang on another week. Though as a wide release it demanded higher marketing costs than some of Focus’ 2013 releases, this movie’s final gross could reach a level at or above any of them, a decent performance for this independently-made film acquired by FilmDistrict before they merged with Focus,
What comes next: This will add a few million more to its take, though its time in the Top 10 won’t continue.