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Top 10 Takeaways: ‘The Boss’ Squeaks Past ‘Batman v Superman’ at Box Office

Top 10 Takeaways: 'The Boss' Squeaks Past 'Batman v Superman' at Box Office

So far superheroine Melissa McCarthy looks to knock out two superheroes at the weekend box office

The race between McCarthy’s latest R-rated potty-mouthed comedy “The Boss” (Universal) and the third weekend of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (Warner Bros.) couldn’t be tighter. Sunday studio estimates have “The Boss” ahead by only $45,000 —2/10ths of 1%— so the Monday actuals will call the ultimate “winner.” The producer-writer-star’s “The Boss,” the major opener this week, should push “Batman v Superman” to second place in its third weekend, continuing its precipitous decline.

In fact, neither film showed stellar results in a weekend packed with disappointments. Two films that grabbed attention at Toronto 2015 went somewhat wide: both STX’s first-person point-of-view thriller “Hardcore Henry” and Fox Searchlight’s
“Demolition” (yet another dark Jake Gyllenhaal drama) failed to
reach even modest expectations.


Several decent holdovers, led by long-legged “Zootopia” (Buena Vista) somewhat redeemed the weekend. But after the record-breaking Easter frame two weeks
ago, business slumped compared to 2015. The $91 million Top Ten total is
26% below the same weekend last year (fueled by the second stanza of “Furious 7”). This weekend is also the lowest since Feb. 5-7, the week before “Deadpool” jump-started an unprecedented early-year two-month box office surge leading to three
$300 million smash hits.

The Top Ten

1. The Boss (Universal) –
Cinemascore: C+; Criticwire: C; Metacritic: 40; Est. budget: $29 million

$23,480,000 in 3,480 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $6,747;
Cumulative: $23,480,000

2. Batman v Superman: Dawn of
Justice
(Warner Bros.) – Week 3; Last weekend #1

$23,435,000 (-54%) in 4,102 theaters (-154); PTA: $5,713; Cumulative: $296,686,000

3. Zootopia (Buena Vista) – Week
6; Last weekend #2

$14,353,000 (-26%) in theaters; PTA: $4,168; Cumulative: $296,012,000

4. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
(Universal) – Week; Last weekend #3

$6,420,000 (-43%) in 3,444 theaters (-254) ; PTA: $2,121; Cumulative: $46,753,000

5. Hardcore Henry (STX) –
Cinemascore: C+ ; Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 51; Est. budget: $10 million
(acquisition cost)

$5,096,000 in 3,015 theaters; PTA: $1,690; Cumulative: $5,096,000

6. Miracles from Heaven (20th
Century Fox)- Week 4; Last weekend #5

$4,844,000 (-33%) in 2,783 theaters (+372); PTA: $1,741; Cumulative: $53,851,000

7. God’s Not Dead 2 (Pureflix) –
Week 2; Last weekend #4

$4,051,000 (-47%) in 2,354 (-65) theaters; PTA: $1,721 ; Cumulative: $13,836,000

8. The Divergent Series: Allegiant
(Lionsgate) – Week 4; Last weekend #6

$3,600,000 (-37%) in 2,503 theaters (-515); PTA: $1,438; Cumulative: $61,830,000

9. 10 Cloverfield Lane
(Paramount) – Week 5; Last weekend #7

$3,000,000 (-34%) in 1,886 theaters (-625); PTA: $1,591; Cumulative: $67,976,000

10. Eye in the Sky (Bleecker
Street) – Week 5; Last weekend #9

$2,829,000 (-29%) in 1,089 theaters (+60); PTA: $2,598; Cumulative: $10,406,000

The Takeaways

The Mixed News Overview

For both “The Boss” and
“BvS,” their position isn’t as important as the actual gross.
“BvS” dropped 54%, which looks far better than a potential 60% drop.
It grossed slightly more than $23 million for its third weekend, a solid performance
normally, but way below “Deadpool” ($31 million) and “Zootopia” ($37
million) in their third outing. “The Boss” had an opening for a clear
win, with $25 million or more possible based on McCarthy’s strong track record and the
competition this week. One will claim #1 tomorrow, but both seem a little limp (details below).

But
after the high-end (not unprecedented) “BvS” 69% fall last weekend, even
a 54% third week drop ($21 million) signals continued mixed response and a lower-than-expected final domestic total. This fall means that despite
its front-loaded opening, questions remain whether it will ultimately gross on the level of
“Deadpool” ($375 million likely) or “Zootopia” ($350
million possible). 

What Went Wrong with “The Boss”

On some level, the $23 million-plus total for Melissa McCarthy’s latest
comedy is a pyrrhic victory. It marks the fourth-best opening of her five lead role films
since her huge success in the ensemble hit “Bridesmaids” (2011).
 Three of the four have grossed over $110 million, and
all— despite mainly negative critical response— have impressively managed to
gross around four times their opening weekends. That’s the definition of a
movie star. She’s audience-friendly and critic-proof. And
she’s pulling women, who are often put off by bad reviews on opening weekends. 

This time around, she varied little from
her previous successful strategy – R-rated, brassy, bigger-than-life character
(a wealthy business executive in trouble with the Feds) with compelling costars Kristen Bell and Peter Dinklage (she scored her best results with marquee star Sandra Bullock in
“The Heat”).

Clearly, McCarthy in a movie is a draw. But these modest
results—at worst, about 20% lower than last year’s “Spy,” which had a boost from a summer opening—shows that McCarthy and director husband Ben Falcone failed to vary their formula with some original elements.
This feels like a retread of her recent hits, which should have been a warning
sign not to expect it to equal the better-reviewed “Spy”’s $29 million debut.

So figure the 20% drop to be the toll of not
trying anything new. Still compared to other recent retreads that have fallen
far short (led by the disastrous showing of “Allegiant,” the latest “Divergent” episode) this could be a success for Universal. The
trick is whether it can replicate the remarkable four-times opening weekend her
other vehicles scored. “Tammy,” her 2014 vehicle similarly directed by Falcone, boasted an $11 million start with a Wednesday opening; “The Boss” marks the lowest total of her four Friday openers.

Clearly, McCarthy did get the memo about diversifying
(per her successful smaller outings in “St. Vincent” and “This Is Life”),  Next up the summer is the all-female ensemble “Ghostbusters,” which clearly conforms to the something old/something new
formula.

“Batman v Superman”’s Not Quite Historically Bad Weekend              

With $23.4 million, Warners dodged a dubious bullet. The gross is 14% of
its opening $166 million total. Among recent years’ top initial weekend totals,
which normally score around 20% or better third time around, with many 25% or
more despite steep declines from huge initial numbers (“Jurassic World” and the
first “Avengers” both achieved this), this plummet isn’t a record. That belongs to “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,” also Warners. That film had even more built-in front-loaded appeal as the final film in the monster
franchise (as well as a summer playtime). “Deathly Hallows 2” made it to $381 million domestic
with no one calling it disappointing, particularly with nearly $1 billion more
worldwide.

But “Hallows” aside, some of the comparisons are brutal. Three “Twilight” films saw their third weekends fall less than this post-Thanksgiving (in
what is usually Death Valley for grosses). Those results weren’t
surprising. The falloff for “BvS” is, even if the
film was overhyped. Look at how recent smashes “Deadpool”
(23%) and “Zootopia” (50%) on their third weekends. “Deadpool” is nearly
certain to outstrip “BvS” while “Zootopia” also has a shot at doing better in
its domestic take. Again, all three are hits, but “BvS” takes some
explaining.

Worse for Warners—apart from this launching a new series of expensive
D.C. Comic franchise films— this has a high price tag, at least $250 million negative cost plus $150 million in worldwide marketing, both low-end
estimates. And international results are similarly declining. This should wind up in the $900 million range, enough for it to get into the black.
But it is far short of the high-end hopes with its initial take, and sows seeds
of concern for Warners’ investment in these films going forward.

“Hardcore” and “Demolition” strike out

STX scored a hit with its initial fall 2015 release “The Gift,” an efficiently marketed low-budget
acquisition, as well as horror entry “The Boy,” which woke up the horror audience with its originality and inventiveness. 
“Hardcore Henry,” their $10-million Toronto acquisition for worldwide rights, was the focus of a bidding war
with Universal and Lionsgate. The win looks a bit
tarnished now with a mere $5 million gross, at the low end for this 3,015-theater break. Perhaps the innovative picture was too radical, with its first-person
POV character (a viewer-challenging experience).
It did manage a 3% jump over Saturday (never guaranteed for younger-oriented
genre films) so it could have been worse.

Fox Searchlight already had “Demolition” in tow when they positioned it as
the opening night film at Toronto (never a guarantee of success, though “Looper”
and “The Judge” did well), as a favor to Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallee; they had already scheduled their release for seven months later. But even so, compared to
other recent Jake Gyllenhaal films and with Vallee coming off “Dallas
Buyers Club” and “Wild,” and compared to their similar release of “True
Story” last year (also Toronto premiered, similar theater count, mixed reviews
and starring Jonah Hill and James Franco), this marks low-end result. Audiences are discerning these days, but the movie got slammed by the poor timing of going up against too many adult-oriented films playing well with older audiences.

More on Top Ten entry “Eye in
the Sky” and other titles in Arthouse Audit.

Holdovers

“Zootopia” tops the
list with only a 26% drop. Want a jaw-dropping figure? In the middle of April,
its gross was DOUBLE “Inside Out” in its sixth weekend. The Pixar smash went on
to $356 million. “Zootopia,” now at $60 million, might not quite make it there,
but that it is even close makes its rival “Deadpool” the overachiever of the
year.

“Zootopia” was closely followed by “Eye in the Sky” which only dropped 29% with
1,089 theaters (60 added), competing well in a field crammed with successful older audience
films, including wide release over-achiever “My Big Fat Wedding 2,” which
 dropped 43% and should top $60 million, and the nearly as
popular more limited “Hello, My Name Is Doris.” Universal stepped on its own toes by opening “The Boss” against “Wedding 2″‘s overlapping female appeal. 

Sony’s “Miracles from Heaven” held up better than last weekend’s
opener “God’s Not Dead 2” (Pureflix). Longer-running “Miracles” dropped
only 33 % and is nearing $54 million. It the most successful of the recent spate of faith-based films, and with a $13 million production cost, hugely profitable as it heads for $70 million. That would put it $10 million ahead
of sleeper hit “God’s Not Dead.” Its sequel dropped 43%, not disastrous, but
also making it likely to only gross a third of its predecessor.

Another week and another impressive hold for “10 Cloverfield Lane,” doing extremely
well for a horror film with a 37% dip. Heading toward $80 million, it will
equal the unadjusted gross for 2008’s original franchise entry, and more than
triple its opening, excellent for the genre.

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