Universal is happy. They originally conceived their horror project “Ouija” as an expensive, high-profile horror/thriller with McG at the helm, but they ran the numbers and realized the profit margins made more sense as a low-budget picture with no stars. That’s basically the current state of horror these days, folks. Opening with $20 million this weekend, “Ouija” did everything it was supposed to and more. You can probably already place this picture in the win column for the studio, but one can’t help but hope for the return of the artful horror picture one day.
Keanu Reeves seemed all poised for a big comeback. His Lionsgate actioner “John Wick” received good reviews across the board, even from some of the stodgiest critics, but Reeves’ flick could not best “Ouija” and only mustered $14.1 million from some 2,500 screens. Maybe this is why he didn’t get the Batman or Wolverine roles he coveted so much. But the 50-year-old is arguably aging even better than Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp, so he’s not worried. Brad Pitt’s “Fury” had a good hold, only dropping 45.2%. And “Gone Girl” and “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” continued to demonstrate some of the best 35%-ish range holds of the year. David Fincher’s film has now grossed $227 million worldwide. That makes it the 4th highest grossing film of the director’s career worldwide, but at this pace the picture should at least be able to challenge the #2 film, “Seven.” But “Gone Girl” is already far and away Fincher’s highest grossing film domestically.
The big talking point this weekend is the success of The Weinstein Company’s “St. Vincent” starring Bill Murray. 2014 has been an unkind and ruthless year for indies expanding into bigger markets. “The Rover,” “Tusk,” and recently “Men, Women & Children” tanked hard in expansion. But “St. Vincent,” and perhaps the charms of Bill Murray, broke the curse. Expanding into 2,282 screens, ‘Vincent’ grossed a strong $8 million in its third week of release. Already being touted as a crowd-pleasing awards favorite, this bodes well for the picture. And Weinstein Co. is the master of the platform release in the fall, so it seems their strategy paid off.
Elsewhere, the strong second week hold of “The Judge” is starting to weaken, but a 45% drop is still lower than most. It’s performed decently in the U.S., but it’s going to need a much higher international gross to be profitable (there’s really no way a courtroom drama should cost $50 million in 2014, sorry). Meanwhile, “Dracula Untold” is really waning in the U.S., as the movie almost fell out of the top 10 this weekend and should be out of the frame by next. For a would-be broad tentpole, the movie has only grossed $48 million Stateside. Internationally its fared much better, where its worldwide total now stands at $166 million, but Universal may want to distance themselves from this picture if it’s supposed to launch their big Monsters Cinematic Universe. And Relativity’s “Best Of Me” continues to unimpress, dropping 52% and looking like it’ll go out to pasture next weekend.
In box office milestones, “Guardians Of The Galaxy” has now crossed the $750 million mark worldwide, thanks to growing grosses in China. So that means it’s the third-highest grossing film of 2014 having now surpassed both “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” That also makes it the number one super hero movie of 2014. That’s pretty incredible when you consider ‘Days of Future Past’ was essentially the X-Men franchise’s version of “The Avengers” and the seventh movie in the series. And Captain America has, by this point, starred in three Marvel movies. The relatively unknown ‘Guardians,’ however, has done everything Marvel dreamed of: launched a stand-alone series with little built-in audience brand value and have made another flagship property. If they’re smart they’ll keep ‘Guardians’ in space and away from their earthbound super heroes until they really need to because at this rate and pace, the studio will be able to do several ‘Guardian’ movies on their own without the help of “Iron Man,” “Thor,” and the rest. One also hopes that the ‘Guardians’ success gives Marvel the confidence to finally deliver a female-led and African-American-led comic book movie, because at this point they can do no wrong.
Like ‘Guardians,’ which kept slowly rising internationally, Scarlett Johansson’s “Lucy” has now grossed a whopping $434 million worldwide. Considering its budget was $40 million, “Lucy” will likely go down as one of the more profitable movies of the year, and it’s certainly the highest grossing Luc Besson-directed project ever. It fact it might be the highest-grossing Luc Besson-generated project ever as even “Taken 2” only made $376 million worldwide. Considering Besson’s EuroCorp studio spits out tons of action junk each year, one will have to forgive the director if he reconsiders his current, “no ‘Lucy’ sequels” thinking. Remember how Dreamworks delayed “How to Train Your Dragon 3” because “How to Train Your Dragon 2″ was considered a disappointment at first? Well, it’s grossed $614 million worldwide. That said, its performance is much smaller stateside this time. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” is still doing well too. It’s almost grossed the $200 million mark in North America and currently stands at $375 million worldwide.
In limited release, the big player was Laura Poitras‘ Edward Snowden doc “Citizenfour,” which earned $125k from five screens for a $25k per screen average. Those are incredible numbers for a documentary opening. Even with the cast of Keira Knightley, Sam Rockwell, and Chloe Moretz, the biggest indie release of the week, “Laggies,” could not contend with those numbers. The A23 film grossed $86.8k from 10 screens for a rather low $8,680 per screen average. Perhaps it just shows that sometimes buzz and stellar reviews can make a difference as “Citizenfour” has been earning heaps of praise across the board and is considered an early frontrunner for the Best Documentary Oscar.
“Whiplash” is perhaps not performing commensurate to its buzz. The movie has been widely acclaimed by critics, but after three weeks the picture has only grossed $748k. That said, it’s still only on 25 screens, and one wonders what exactly Sony Pictures Classics expansion plan is. Conversely. In contrast, “The Skeleton Twins,” which had good, but not amazing reviews, and is certainly no Oscar contender, has grossed almost $5 million so far. Sure, it’s on 100 screens, but perhaps the names Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig actually mattered a bit more. Meanwhile, “Birdman,” which scored one of the highest limited releases of the year last weekend, expanded from 50 theaters and added $1.4 million to its tally and another solid $29k per screen average. The comedy has grossed $2.1 million so far and will continue to expand in the coming weeks.
1 Ouija — $20.0 million
2 John Wick —$14.15 million
3. Fury — $13 million ($46.1 million)
4. Gone Girl — $11.1 million ($124.1 million)
5. Book Of Life —$9.8 million ($29.9 million)
6. St. Vincent — $8.05 million
7. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day — $7.023 million ($45.5 million)
8. The Best of Me — $4.73 ($17.6 million)
9. The Judge — $4.3 million ($34.3 million)
10. Dracula Untold — $4.3 ($48.3 million)