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Box Office Top Ten Takeaways: Why ‘Home’ and ‘Get Hard’ Scored with Spring Audiences

Box Office Top Ten Takeaways: Why 'Home' and 'Get Hard' Scored with Spring Audiences

That’s $19 million better than last year (led by “Noah”), boosting the year-to-date overall domestic gross to 4 per cent ahead. This comes ahead of the opening of the expected first big early summer hit “Furious 7” (Universal) next week, which could easily see results considerably over $100 million and show that there is still a potential male audience out there.

The rest of the lineup was uneven, with last weekend’s two top performers both dropping by half or more. Big openers are great, but although “American Sniper” and “Kingsman” have both thrived with long runs, most of this year’s best openers have lacked staying power.

The Top Ten

1. Home (20th Century Fox) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 55; Est. budget: $130 million
$54,000,000 in 3,708 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $14,563; Cumulative: $54,000,000

2. Get Hard (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Criticwire: C-; Metacritic: 34; Est. budget: $40 million
$34,610,000 in 3,176 theaters; PSA: $10,901,000; Cumulative: $34,610,000

3. The Divergent Series: Insurgent (Lionsgate) Week 2 – Last weekend #1
$22,075,000 (-58%) in 3,875 theaters (no change); PSA: $5,697; Cumulative: $86,394,000

4. Cinderella (Buena Vista) Week 3 – Last weekend #2
$17,515,000 (-50%) in 3,815 theaters (-33); PSA: $4,591; Cumulative: $150,022,000

5. It Follows (Radius/TWC) Week 3 – Last weekend #19
$4,021,000 (+1,066%) in 1,218 theaters (+1,186); PSA: $3,301; Cumulative: $4,755,000

6. Kingsman: The Secret Service (20th Century Fox) Week 7 – Last weekend #5
$3,050,000 (-%) in 1,785 theaters (-438); PSA: $1,709; Cumulative: $119,424,000

7. Run All Night (Warner Bros.) Week 3 – Last weekend #3
$2,205,000 (-56%) in 2,377 theaters (-794); PSA: $928; Cumulative: $23,823,000

8. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Fox Searchlight) Week 4 – Last weekend #7
$2,185,000 (-38%) in 1,498 theaters (-518); PSA: $1,459; Cumulative: $28,135,000

9. Do You Believe? (PureFlix) Week 2 – Last weekend #6
$2,150,000 (-40%) in 1,356 theaters (+36); PSA: $1,586; Cumulative: $7,052,000

10. The Gunman (Open Road) Week 2 – Last weekend #4
$2,045,000 (-60%) in 2,816 theaters (no change); PSA: $726; Cumulative: $8,810,000

The Takeaways

Three Reasons Why “Home” Scored 

“Home” exceeded expectations, falling within the range of top studio spring animated openings. It stands out as an original entry, and also a welcome surprise for DreamWorks Animation which has suffered through a series of high-priced non-performers (released via 20th Century Fox after leaving Paramount). Some of them opened better (and had success overseas), but this is DreamWorks’ first in some time whose initial take deserves unqualified praise against serious competition from the third week of Disney’s live action smash “Cinderella.”

This number comes in as the second-best animated opening for 2015 (behind “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water”) by a small amount. The latter was the first animated release since Thanksgiving and when there wasn’t much family action, and had long-term franchise appeal. This $54-million figure is only $2 million below Disney’s hit “Big Hero 6” in early November (which put a crimp in DreamWorks’ “Penguins of Madagascar,” which opened to only $35 million over the five-day holiday).

Among DreamWorks’ non-summer recent animated releases, this opening beats “How to Train Your Dragon,” “The Croods,” “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” and “The Rise of the Guardians (it lags behind Pixar sequel “Monsters Vs. Aliens” at $59 million in March 2009). Among spring vacation animated releases in recent years, “Home” bested “Rio 2” ($39 million), “The Croods” ($43 million), “Rio” ($39 million), “How to Train Your Dragon” ($43 million). Those figures explain why most pre-opening estimates came in closer to $40 million.

So why the unexpected number? Three factors stand out, two of which are clear recent trends.

1. Female appeal, which across all age groups has dominated audience response in recent months. “Home” drew 60 per cent women/girls, a very high split considering the number of dads who take kids and traditional boy interest in animation. Dream Works pushed the mother/daughter angle on the human side of this alien story hard, and it paid off.

2. Originality. Going against what has been the norm in most animation grosses in recent years, the freshness of the project helped–it’s not a sequel, not a well-known property, although it is based on a popular book with a different title. It seems to have set it apart somewhat as American audiences gravitate to fresh content.

3. Diversity. A majority of the initial audience was non-white: 52 per cent,  22 per cent African American ticket buyers, with Hispanic viewers also significant. Along with Jim Parsons in his first-ever animated voicing, the movie also boasts Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez as minority characters.

The Saturday jump from Friday (a day that benefited from some school vacation) was 39 per cent, below “Big Hero’s”‘ 52 per cent but better than last year’s spring release “Rio 2” at 29. The reviews were mediocre (this is not a likely Animated Oscar contender), the A Cinemascore about par for normal. Best of all for “Home”‘s positive prospects are the upcoming days and staggered weeks of school vacations. Expect this to fall somewhere between $150-200 million plus decent international returns (though not likely the normal much higher ratio that less urban/more familiar animated releases earn). This wasn’t an inexpensive film ($130 million before marketing). But it’s the upbeat result that DreamWorks Animation needs right now.

The Odd Couple in “Get Hard”

“Get Hard” got hit by negative press at its ill-advised premiere at South by Southwest, with bad initial reviews and some controversy over perceived homophobic humor. Not that either Kevin Hart or Will Ferrell has ever depended on critical praise to carry most of their hits. Hart’s “Ride Along” in early 2014 had only a 41 Metacritic score, most of Ferrell’s fall in the 40-low 50s (though his most recent release, “Anchorman 2” managed a 61). But a sense that Hart might be wearing out his welcome (this is his sixth film in 15 months) and the R rating (Hart has had both R and PG-13 films while Ferrell more often PG-13) also contributed to decent but not overwhelming expectations.

So “Get Hard” came in at $34 million, down from the surprising $41 million that “Ride Along” achieved (with Ice Cube as second lead) but a solid $14 million above Hart’s “Wedding Ringer” in January. SInce 2006, Ferrell’s openings have mainly been in the mid 20s- mid 30s range, often with other strong co-stars (the best of these, the slightly better “The Other Guys,” offered Mark Wahlberg and The Rock.)

So the number seems to make sense at the slightly high end of predictions. Does that make it a hit? Not yet, although it clearly is positive news for Warner Bros. after some post-“American Sniper” duds led by “Jupiter Ascending.” The budget at $40 million gives it room to prosper, although normal marketing would put its cost closer to $70 million. Yesterday was only up a tad from the combined Thursday night-Friday number, which combined with its mediocre B Cinemascore suggests that this is no guarantee to triple its opening (which would get it to a healthy $100 million). We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out. And foreign is no guarantee: “Ride Along” only added $19 million overseas, and Ferrell’s comedies have been mainly domestic draws, so there’s no guarantee of much more than $20-40 million in non-domestic totals.

Give credit to both star brands trying to push the envelope and mix it up (and Hart for taking second billing, though he’s been the bigger draw of late).

“It Follows” – The Saga Continues

With its projected Video on Demand date overridden when its initial theater grosses popped far over anticipated levels and the major chains now willing to participate, and some considerable room in theaters with only four other early week films doing much business, Radius expanded their acclaimed horror indie to over 1,200 theaters. It ended up in fifth spot, with just over $4 million.

This is a more narrow release and comes with less advertising or buildup than most films expanding wide, genre or otherwise. Sources with access to specific grosses indicate it placed no lower than fifth in most complexes, with many better than that, which should insure at least one week’s holdover. And yesterday’s gross, 21 per cent ahead of Friday, exceptional since most horror films stay the same or drop on Saturday, also is an encouraging sign that positive word of mouth continues to drive the film.

But where does this leave things? To get theaters, under normal rules Radius would need to delay any VOD for 90 days after initial release (that would mean around June 10), by which time it will be long gone from most theaters. The grosses, though competitive, hardly look like they justify a great expansion or increased allocation of marketing funds beyond maintenance levels. So, unless some major positive audience reaction kicks in, it’s hard to see this getting to anything over $15 million, if even that. About half could get back to Radius.

Since it remains tough to get VOD statistics (Radius did release a $6.5 million number for “Snowpiercer,” which went VOD two weeks after its early theatrical viewing), the economics are hard to gauge. We’ll never likely know if they made the right move by delaying VOD, or whether a commitment to theatrical and the normal buildup (and expense) would have done much better. And that’s what makes decisions about platforms and dates so difficult in this ever-evolving world. The most positive thing is that a good film has gotten a lot of attention, and indeed that nationwide many more people are getting a chance to see it in theaters than looked possible two weeks ago.

The Holdovers

A really weak bunch this time around. Only the as always impressive “Kingsman: The Secret Service” stands out, down only 34 per cent despite many more theaters dropping out. The significant drop came from “Insurgent,” off 58 per cent, more than the 53 per cent drop “Divergent” had last year. “Cinderella” is doing quite well, but 50 per cent off in a third week for a family film is unusually large, but mainly explained by competition from “Home.” The real beneficiary here is next week’s “Furious 7” which in most big-grossing complexes should have major seating and multiple screens available (only at most seven films, and for most theaters fewer, really deserve holdovers).

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