The five top films this week are a diverse bunch. Only "Allegiant," the third installment of a planned four "Divergent" films, showed weakness. "Zootopia" still shines, joining solid early 2016 hit "Deadpool" as "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" looms. Patterns established in recent months are taking hold as original and creative movies show that studios don’t always rely on the tried and true. (One problem for "Allegiant" is the varying quality of the books on which it is based.)
The Top Ten
1. Zootopia (Buena Vista) Week 3; Last weekend #1
$38,042,000 (-26%) in 3,959 theaters (+132); PTA (per theater average): $9,609:; Cumulative: $201,807,000
2. The Divergent Series: Allegiant (Lionsgate) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic: 34; est. budget $110 million
$29,050,000 in 3,740 theaters; PTA: $7,767; Cumulative: $29,050,000
3. Miracles from Heaven (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: A+; Metacritic: 44; est. budget $13 milliom
$15,000,000 in 3,047 theaters; PTA: $4,923; Cumulative: $18,557,000
4. 10 Cloverfield Lane (Paramount) Week 2; Last weekend #2
$12,500,000 (-49%) in 3,427 theaters (+36); PTA: $: 3,648; Cumulative: $45,177,000
5. Deadpool (20th Century Fox) Week 6; Last weekend #3
$8,000,000 (-27%) in 2,924 theaters (-407); PTA: $2,736:; Cumulative: $340,941,000
6. London Has Fallen (Focus) Week 3; Last weekend #4
$6,894,000 (-36%) in 3,011 theaters (-481); PTA: $2,290:; Cumulative: $50,090,000
7. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (Paramount) Week 3; Last weekend #5
$2,805,000 (-40%) in 2,079 theaters (-334); PTA: $1,349:; Cumulative: $19,276,000
8. The Perfect Match (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last weekend #6
$1,900,000 (-56%) in 925 theaters (unchanged); PTA: $2,054:; Cumulative: $7,306,000
9. The Brothers Grimsby (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend #8
$1,400,000 (-57%) in 2,235 theaters (unchanged); PTA: $626:; Cumulative: $5,913,000
10. The Revenant (20th Century Fox) Week 13; Last weekend #11
$1,225,000 (-40%) in 935 theaters (-368); PTA: $:; Cumulative: $181,162,000
"Zootopia" passed $200 million in its third weekend (and repeated again as number one). 2016 now has two films, including "Deadpool," which led the three preceding weeks, that have already grossed over $200 million. The first quarter rarely has releases that reach this level in their entire runs. "American Sniper" performed well last year after its platform openings, and "The LEGO Movie" in 2014, but two fresh releases already is a standout achievement. That keeps the year 10% ahead of last.
Curiously, the top two hits both years thus far made up 23% of the total, so that means the rest of the pack is carrying similar shares (unlike late last year when "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" clearly boosted totals beyond a fair reading of overall interest). Another similarity is the same weekend year to year comparison. The Top Ten in both came in for both around $117 million.
But the bounty this year comes from other holdovers beyond "Star Wars" (the wide release of "The Revenant" is third best so far in actual 2016 grosses). Last year by this time there were four $100 million new releases, while 2016 has only three ("Kung Fu Panda" is the third third).
The weak showing of "Allegiant" (Lionsgate), the third entry in the "Divergent" series, fell 45% from last year’s Part 2. More on this and other takeaways below.
2016 Hit Formula
"Deadpool" and "Zootopia" followed "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" in taking familiar tropes/genres/characters and reinventing them with strong scripts and energetic, fresh approaches. "Allegiant" took a pre-set young adult franchise with planned multiple films, hoping to replicate Lionsgate’s "Hunger Games" juggernaut. Though it fell short of those heights, the first two grossed $150 and $130 million respectively at home, with international around the same (unusually close these days, in part because the original novels have English-speaking world appeal).
This time around, in the tradition of the last "Harry Potter," "Twilight" and "Hunger Games" entries, Lionsgate split the final film into two parts. That is getting some of the blame for the tepid opening, but that’s avoiding the real issue. The three earlier splits had at worst a 22% drop from the previous entry ("The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1"). This time, that division wasn’t evident in the title, though the strongest fans of the series were clued in.
This franchise is showing that while the initial two did adequately (compared to combined initial budgets of $200 million), it typifies a sort of routine, unoriginal product. One of the hallmarks of the tentpole-driven template in the industry is satisfy them once, then fans will remain loyal. The reported $110 million bet made on this (with likely similar on the final one next year) could yield disappointing returns.
Next week sees "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," which falls into the familiar but new category. More like this, please.
"Zootopia" Breaks Through
"Zootopia" is a rare threepeat for an animated feature. "The LEGO Movie" last accomplished this, and mostly because of playing in more intense periods (both "Frozen" and "Inside Out" thrived without much #1 placement). But a $38-million third weekend at this time of the year is a notable record. And hitting the $200 million mark this early, with most of the spring vacation period just ahead to elevate this more, puts this on track to to join "Deadpool" before long as a second (and unprecedented) $300 million first quarter release.
Down 26% for a third week? Even with animated hits holding above average, that’s a stellar performance. And what is particularly positive about it is the timing. As "Deadpool" showed with comic book franchise movies and its February release, a high end for its genre in animation in March for "Zootopia" expands the calendar for the top end entries for similar films. And as noted, here comes "Batman v Superman," another title more conventionally placed in the May-August top end time frame.
"Miracles From Heaven" is yet another of the seasonal faith-based movies of late ("Risen," also from Sony, has done decently, while "Young Messiah" couldn’t reach the Top Ten in its second weekend). The formula for success these days often seems to be taking a best-selling book (often a retelling of a personal experience or triumph within a religious context), keeping the costs down ($13 million here) and having enough of a star quotient (this one includes Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah) to seem mainstream and comfort-zone.
Sony hit the jackpot two years back with "Heaven Is for Real," also opening on a Wednesday and taking in $29 million its first five days compared to $18.6 million here. "Heaven" ended up at $91 million (with very little foreign) with about the same budget. With the core of the Christian holidays and spring vacation ahead, "Miracles" (with its enthusiastic A+ Cinemascore a big plus) could catapult into the top contemporary-set faith-based grossers in the current niche industry.
"Miracles" was produced by Sony’s frequent partner Affirm, who has either made and/or marketed five of the six top similar films since 2011 (the independently made sleeper "God’s Not Dead" the only other). It is the second best opener among these films, which frequently see strong multiples. So don’t be surprised if this heads to $60 million or better, not a gold mine for Sony, but these days any studio will take a steady stream a low-budget profit makers.
After a start in Mexican independent film, Patricia Riggen in less than half a year has directed her second studio effort after "The 33." "Miracles" marks the first live action and the first solo female directed film of the 2016, which is already falling behind last year’s less than standout pace.
No surprise: Other than "Zootopia," the leader was fellow smash "Deadpool," only off 26 per cent, the best hold of its run. It will end up close to $400 million, which some years would make a film contender for top release.
"10 Cloverfield Lane" fell just under 50%, far better than the 68% drop for the initial film (and with a gross actually about the same). Horror-related films tend to drop above average, so this is no worse than a reasonable showing. The same can’t be said for last weekend’s weak other openers: "The Perfect Day," "The Brothers Grimsby" and "The Young Messiah" lost between 56 and 68% of their initial minor takes, and provide plenty of space for additional "Batman v Superman" screens next week.
In the 36-40% decline range are "London Has Fallen," "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot," which both show enough appeal to gain additional weeks, and the return to the Top Ten of "The Revenant" after a brief absence.