Just after Easter holiday playtime, and right ahead of the first of the summer juggernauts, comes this late April weekend. It was guaranteed to be something of a breather after a strong 2014 so far — and ahead, as Sony “The Amazing Spider Man 2” adds the US to its territories next weekend after already scoring overseas success.
Even so, the Top Ten total ($96 million) still managed to come in over 20% better than last year ($78 million) though the three-day take was the lowest this year since late February. Led by “The Other Woman” (20th Century Fox), a rare female-dominated studio release, the performance overall was enhanced by the strong holdovers (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Heaven Is for Real,” “Rio 2,”) behind it, benefiting from the lack of any other stronger opener (both “Brick Mansions” and “The Quiet Ones” failed to take in over $10 million).
The first third of 2014 will come in just under 10% of a very weak start to 2013. But “Iron Man 3” started at $174 million its opening weekend, and the parade of strong performers continued nonstop for over three months, setting a high standard that this year might not be able to match.
1. The Other Woman (20th Century Fox) – Cinemascore: B+; Criticwire: D; Metacritic: 39
$24,700,000 in 3,205 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $7,707; Cumulative: $24,700,000
Incredibly, this is the first older-skewing film with a mainly female cast to hit number one since “The Help” nearly three years ago. (“The Heat” last year managed to reach nearly $160 million without getting to the top spot). Pent-up demand likely accounts for a good part of its initial success, as women more than ever, with the decline of the young male demo, constitute a majority of domestic ticket buyers (not necessarily the case worldwide). So with a heavily promoted comedy with a legitimate star (Cameron Diaz) leading the cast and less competitive release date, this result shouldn’t surprise, but should indeed be noted for its achievement.
But how impressive is this? And more importantly, is it a game-changer or just an anomaly? Hard to say for sure, but from a studio perspective, the optics are mixed. The reported production budget of $40 million is modest by current standards, but marketing costs likely hike this up to at least $75 million in upfront expense. With a likely domestic total of $75 million or under, this means that international play will need to produce something similar to propel this into profit (other ancillary revenue, of course, will be added). Because female-centered comedies normally, unlike most studio films, gross less overseas, there is no guarantee of that happening. But a strong early opening in Australia last week, which came close to the initial success of “Spider-Man 2,” does show real potential ahead of expectations, as does the stateside opening.
The first bit of concern comes from Saturday’s minor jump from Friday (up only 4%, when often women turn out in larger numbers). Four recent films comparable in appeal — along with “The Help,” three Melissa McCarthy starrers (“Bridesmaids,” “Identity Thief” and “The Heat”) — all had much better increases on their first Saturdays to varying degrees. “The Other Woman”‘s Thursday night numbers, however, were included with Friday, which mitigates the negativity. Although the reviews for “The Other Woman” were weak (to be generous), most romantic comedies with female leads tend to lack critical favor. The Cinemascore is on the mixed/positive side, but “Bridesmaids” only got a B+ before becoming a word-of-mouth smash. More significantly, the opening falls far below the two recent, less relationship-oriented Melissa McCarthy hits, both of which opened above $34 million, with “The Heat” clearly being aided by Sandra Bullock.
With that context in mind, this still is a $24 million+ number one opener with the potential for profit, which should be enough to get other similar projects attention, particularly if equal or bigger names are attached. “The Other Woman” is the first produced script from writer Melissa Stack, and an original one at that, likely making this even more of an anomaly. Single-billed producer Julie Yorn may not be familiar by name, but she is already a veteran, with “We Bought a Zoo,” “Unstoppable” and “Bride Wars” among films in her past slate. Cameron Diaz, meanwhile, showed leading-lady strength in the past, with the two “Charlie’s Angels” films and “Bad Teacher” all opening at over $30 million. For director Nick Cassavetes, this is the biggest opening (although it likely won’t surpass the total gross of his biggest hit “The Notebook”) of his career, and a nice comeback after his most recent film, “Yellow,” failed to attract distribution following its 2012 TIFF premiere.
What comes next: The second weekend hold and foreign returns are going to be critical in determining whether this becomes a clear success. Credit 20th Century Fox in taking a risk and seeing a solid initial positive response.
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Buena Vista) Week 4 – Last weekend #1
$16,048,000 (-37%) in 3,620 theaters (-205); PSA: $4,433; Cumulative: $224,888,000
A very strong 65% Saturday jump helped make the already-rich Marvel richer, as the year’s biggest overall hit so far continues to thrive both domestically and worldwide, even if it was dethroned after three weeks in the top spot. The total take so far is at $645 million (although the initial foreign weeks for “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” outdid many comparable earlier “America” openings), with the race for overall lead between these two superheroes yet to be determined. In any event, both are thriving, with “Captain America” holding strong and leaving no doubt that Marvel can do little wrong at the moment.
What comes next: Disney clearly made the smart move in getting their entry open early, even if it meant conceding some early summer playtime. They’ve set the standard for the season.
3. Heaven Is for Real (Sony) Week 2 – Last weekend #2
$13,800,000 (-39%) in 2,705 theaters (+288); PSA: $5,102; Cumulative: $51,911,000
A 39% drop after the ready-made Easter holiday weekend (with the help of added theaters) confirms what was apparent already – this sleeper faith-based low budget film is on its way to a possible $100 million-plus domestic take. Its per-screen-average, actually, is second only to “The Other Woman” this weekend. The strong hold was predictable after this managed the daily #1 spot for last Easter Sunday, and Tuesday and Wednesday.
What comes next: Already reaching beyond the core religious demo, this seems to be clicking with a broader middle-American audience, which should at least double its total. Its gross in 12 days is about equal to the other recent, more ideologically fervent “God’s Not Dead,” in play since late March.
4. Rio 2 (20th Century Fox) Week 3 – Last weekend #3
$13,650,000 (-39%) in 3,703 theaters (-272); PSA: $3,686; Cumulative: $96,158,000
Though it lags about $8 million behind the first “Rio” through three domestic weekends, the worldwide take — over $300 million so far, with considerably more to come — ranks it among the most successful films thus far this year. A 90% Saturday pickup shows that this is firing on most cylinders with its core kids audience.
What comes next: Though indie “Legend of Oz” opens in two weeks, this has nearly all of May without another studio animated film to compete with, so “Rio 2” might yet equal the domestic take of the first go-round.
5. Brick Mansions (Relativity) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 40
$9,600,000 in 2,647 theaters; PSA: $2,390; Cumulative: $9,600,000
This French-Canadian coproduction is yet another film from Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp (“3 Days to Kill” and “The Family” previously) to be released by Relativity. Like most of Besson’s English-language films, it replicates American studio elements at a much lower cost ($28 million reported), with likely international returns supplementing the domestic take to expectedly profitable results. This is a decent but hardly spectacular opening. While it at least exceeds pre-weekend estimates, Saturday was barely up from Friday. A remake of the 2004 low budget Paris-set actioner “District B13” (released by Magnolia in the U.S.), “Brick Mansions” most notably features the late Paul Walker in one of his last performances. He stars as a cop battling a crime lord in Detroit in this English-language replication of the story, if not setting, of the original. Walker, of course, thrived in the “Fast and Furious” franchise, but never fully blossomed into a go-to leading star in other projects. His only other top-billed film to open to over $20 million was “Eight Below” (he was also among the “Flags of Our Fathers” ensemble). The first-time director, Camille Delamarre, was known previously as an editor on Besson’s productions.
What comes next: It’s hard to see this film not getting overwhelmed by the “Spider-Man 2” onslaught next week. Without an average hold, this will fall short of Relativity’s recent “Oculus,” which at a much lower budget looks to get to about $25 million
6. Transcendence (Warner Bros.) Week 2 – Last weekend #4
$4,105,000 (-62%) in 3,455 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $1,188; Cumulative: $18,472,000
Weakness in the overall Top Ten kept this Johnny Depp starrer from placing lower as it seemed likely to as of yesterday, but that’s the extent of the good news, as a 62% drop from a very weak start confirms that this is going to be among the top losers of the first third of 2014
What comes next: Foreign, led by Depp-friendly China, is ahead of domestic so far, but initial returns suggest Warner Bros. will fall far short of what is needed to propel this into success.
7. The Quiet Ones (Lionsgate) NEW – Cinemascore: C+; Criticwire: C+; Metacritic: 45
$4,000,000 in 2,027 theaters; PSA: $2,027; Cumulative: $4,000,000
Yet another horror-genre misfire, as once-reliable Lionsgate — well-positioned with its bigger franchises — is no longer able to use horror movies as a money-making machine. But unlike some of their more successful ones (e.g. the “Saw” films), this was an acquisition with more limited investment. This British production stars Jared Harris of “Mad Men” (itself a Lionsgate production) as an Oxford professor conducting experiments on an apparently demon-possessed girl. Produced by one of the top names in earlier horror films — recently revived Hammer — this already opened to mild response in the U.K. (#5 its first week, with a 72% second weekend drop). Of note is the co-screenplay credit: Oren Moverman, director/writer of “The Messenger” and “Rampart.”
What comes next: With only one new wide release ahead, this might eke out a second Top Ten week.
8. Bears (Buena Vista) Week 2 – Last weekend #10
$3,606,000 (-24%) in 1,720 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $2,097; Cumulative: $11,153,000
This is a week where a drop of only 24% can result in jumping two slots. Disney’s latest low-budget nature documentary actually managed to gross ahead of their other, Spring nature-based releases after opening behind them, showing that this might have a longer run and more success than it seemed likely last week.
What comes next: The lack of family-oriented fare near-term will aid the cause.
9. Divergent (Lionsgate) Week 6 – Last weekend #7
$3,600,000 (-36%) in 2,066 theaters (-420); PSA: $1,742; Cumulative: $139,463,000
continued loss in screen count, the combination of decent word-of-mouth
and lack of intense competition helped sustain the ongoing solid
performance of Lionsgate’s most recent young adult franchise starter.
What comes next: This appears headed for above $300 million worldwide, not at “Hunger Games” or “Twilight” levels, but with a source material lacking the same initial appeal, this is a strong showing for the Lionsgate/Summit production.
10. A Haunted House 2 (Open Road) Week 2 – Last weekend #5
$3,265,000 (-63%) in 2,310 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $1,413; Cumulative: $14,246,000
This second weekend grossed only about 40% of the similar one for the original last year, even further behind in results than its disappointing first weekend.
What comes next: “Haunted House 2” will find it tough to scare up much more than $17,500,000, while last year Open Road managed to get to $40 million.