What kind of world do we live in where a $50 million opening for “Interstellar” is considered a disappointment? Or where a “The Hunger Games” sequel can open above $120 million and still be viewed as a letdown? Well, one with a tough reality, frankly. Yes, Christopher Nolan’s film has grossed $335 million worldwide and is doing quite well overseas, and after three weeks has just crossed the $120 million mark domestically. But it is underperforming by Christopher Nolan standards Stateside. Benchmark comparison is everything in the movie industry, so consider that in 2010 “Inception” had made almost $200 million in three weeks ($193.3 mil to be exact).
The same is true for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1,” which had a phenomenal weekend by most standards, but still disappointed next to its predecessors. $55 million from Friday night grosses, those are spectacular numbers, no? Yes, but comparatively they are the lowest of the series (and below the penultimate broken-up final chapters of “Twilight” and “Harry Potter” too). “Catching Fire” opened to $71 million a year ago, and the opening series entry grossed $67 million on its Friday opening of March 2012. So does this mean the ‘Hunger Games’ series is losing steam? Nope, but it’s a symptom of a trend that looks like it has no end: the domestic box-office just keeps falling and falling as audiences turn to the myriad digital options they have at home. We saw evidence of this in the summer box-office, which was down, the opening of “Interstellar,” and now the debut of ‘Mockingjay – Part 1.” A $123 million opening—which was “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” total domestic weekend tally—is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, it’s the highest grossing opening of 2014. But numbers don’t lie, and this gross is down an incredible 22% from the previous installment (and the cinemascore was down just slightly too). Is that an end of the world drop? No, but it is a very significant one and does just indicate this alarming trend that you know the studios are worried about.
The small upside for the industry is, as North American numbers keep slowly falling, they keep rising internationally, exponentially so. “The Hunger Games” outgrossed overseas numbers by 44%, and by the time “Catching Fire” arrived, international finally overtook stateside numbers by 5%. Naturally, ‘Mockingjay – Part 1’ did fantastic business worldwide, grossing $152 million, 4% higher than ‘Catching Fire.’ A $275 million opening weekend is, without question, a huge win, but the dip at the U.S. box-office is probably just going to continue its downward slide. Even as the highest grossing opening of the year by a wide margin, as many have suggested, given the numbers and the road ahead which is all prestige Oscar films that will take over the narrative quickly, it remains to be seen if this new ‘Hunger Games’ will be able to overtake “Guardians of The Galaxy” as the #1 grossing film of the year domestically.
Down just 41% from last weekend, “Big Hero 6” held on strong in week three and took in another $20 million. Having earned $135.7 million domestically and $185.2 million worldwide, it is on pace to eclipse the $200 million mark at home and could keep going unless “The Penguins of Madagascar” takes over its family business next weekend. Down 46% from last weekend, “Interstellar” is still holding on as well and surpassed the $120 million mark domestically, but as mentioned it’s still lagging behind Nolan’s last three pictures (and it looks like at this pace, it’s not going to surpass $175 million at home). Again, overseas is the big story for Nolan’s space picture and the movie has now grossed $449 million worldwide.
“Dumb & Dumber To” may have been #1 last weekend, but Universal’s comedy took a hard fall with a 62% drop this week, taking in less than $14 million. Reviews and Cinemascores haven’t been great, but it could get a small uptick during Thanksgiving. Eight weeks in and 20th Century Fox’s “Gone Girl” still hasn’t dropped out of the top five, showing one of the year’s strongest holds (another small -38% this weekend). Internationally, “Gone Girl” is close to becoming David Fincher’s highest grossing film to date worldwide (in North America is reached that milestone years ago). By next weekend overseas grosses should help it best the $333.9 million “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” hauled in 2008. It’s a shame Relativity’s “Beyond The Lights” wasn’t properly screened for critics. The movie has received great plaudits from many tough reviewers, but the business hasn’t transferred to audiences. It fell 58% in week two and has only grossed $10 million after two weeks. Imagine glowing reviews helping to change that narrative.
It’s awards season, that time of the year when Oscar contenders start to infiltrate the box-office that is usually dominated by blockbusters. Maybe more of a Golden Globe contender, The Weinstein Company’s “St. Vincent” is already there and has been holding court at the second half of the box-office top 10 for a few weeks now. It experienced another small drop (-39%) this weekend and now has driven its domestic gross to $36.6 million, a true indie success story which will only rise around possible Globe/Oscar nominations. Not much of an Academy contender, despite what some sites will tell you, Sony’s “Fury” is still holding on too. It fell 49% and has almost reached $80 million domestically. But it hasn’t really performed well overseas and likely won’t hit $100 million at home.
Fox Searchlight’s masterful platforming campaign for “Birdman” continues as the movie creeps further into the top 10. Still in only 862 theaters, it’s approaching the $15 million mark at home. On only 142 screens, Focus Feature’s “Theory Of Everything” cracked the top 10 with $1.5 million. That’s a strong third week expansion, with a per-screen-average of 10.7K. Given its similar limited release tracking, Sony Pictures Classics “Foxcatcher” should likely do the same when it expands to the same number of theaters. The picture expanded into 24 theaters and grossed $474,339 on its second weekend for an $820k domestic total and a 19,750 PSA.
A rather incredible box-office milestone, “The Maze Runner” has hit $334.6 million overseas and counting, and has outgrossed “Divergent” by almost $50 million so far.
1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 — $123 million
2. Big Hero 6 — $20 million ($135.7M)
3. Interstellar — $15 million ($120.6M)
4. Dumb and Dumber To — $13.8 million ($57.4M)
5. Gone Girl — $2.8 million ($158.8M)
6. Beyond the Lights — $2.6 million ($10.1M)
7. St. Vincent — $2.3 million ($36.6M)
8. Fury — $1.9 million ($79.1M)
9. Birdman — $1.85 million ($14.4M)
10. Theory Of Everything — $1.5million ($2.7M)