Two weeks ago, fanboys hailed Neill Blomkamp as the new messiah; he would lead them into the promised land of a new “Alien” franchise film with Ridley Scott producing and Sigourney Weaver starring. But reviews for Blomkamp’s sci-fi robot film, “Chappie,” hit this week and they weren’t pretty (our review was perhaps a bit more in the middle). Audiences, possibly on the fence as it was — there’s no star in the film aside from Hugh Jackman, who plays a villain — actually paid heed to critics, and while “Chappie” was number one at the box-office this weekend, its $13 million opening is pretty depressing for a film released in over 3,200 theaters. So maybe those “Alien” expectations are now tempered?
The rest of the weekend was much the same story for new releases, and it was the worst box-office weekend on record in about three months. Though it wasn’t quite terrible for “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” considering its limited appeal. The movie only mustered $8.6 million in its debut weekend, but considering it was only on 1,573 screens and the highest grossing weekend for the original was $6.3 million, that’s not too bad. Made for $10 million, the original grossed $136 million in 2012, mainly due to international audiences, so if this good start can replicate itself abroad, the sequel should end up in similarly good shape.
Vince Vaughn’s ailing career took another disastrous hit with the comedy “Unfinished Business.” Roasted by critics (our review), audiences didn’t seem to care either as Vaughn’s movie debuted at number 10 with a pitifully low $4.8 million. Everyone hopes that “True Detective” season 2 will be his renaissance, and at this point Vaughn’s probably on the phone with HBO asking if they can move up the season’s premiere to tomorrow. The film is his lowest-grossing wide release lead vehicle movie, but not by much. 2013’s “Delivery Man” opened with a dismal $7.9 million. His career is in unquestionably in need of resuscitation and it may need more than one season of a hit TV show. Presumably he should find a new writing staff and or entire production team. How about calling up his friend Will Ferrell for some “Old School”-style supporting role?
Elsewhere at the box-office, Will Smith’s “Focus” had a fairly underwhelming debut last weekend, but the movie only dropped 46.4% and has almost grossed $35 million at home. Perhaps the films that have fared best this winter are “Kingsman: The Secret Service” and “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.” The former is still in the top five this weekend (suffering only a very small 30% drop in week four) and the latter has almost hit $150 million domestically.
“Fifty Shades Of Grey” is falling, but perhaps not as quickly as expected. It fell less than 50% in week four, and the kink drama is almost at the $160 million mark at home. Of course, overseas is another story — it’s become a gigantic hit abroad and has grossed $527 million worldwide so far. “McFarland, USA” is also holding on strong (only -32.1%), as is Lionsgate‘s unexpected modest hit teen comedy, “The Duff,” which almost hit the $30 million mark (-29.4%).
Warner Bros.’ “American Sniper” finally fell out of the top 10 in its 11th week of release, but on the upside, it’s finally surpassed “Mockingjay — Part 1” domestically. That’s right, with a $337 million total, “American Sniper” is now the #1 grossing film of 2014 at home. It’s amazing that a war drama could outgross tentpoles like the “Hunger Games” sequel and both Marvel’s “Guardians Of The Galaxy” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” but we suppose this is what happens when you ignite the Red State base. Globally, the movie has surpassed the $500 million mark which is an astonishing achievement for WB. In limited release, the docs “Merchants Of Doubt” and “An Honest Liar” did OK business, but likely because of the death of Albert Maysles (R.I.P.), the limited release winner was the 2015 re-release of “Grey Gardens,” which made $12k from one screen.
In other box-office milestones, “Big Hero 6” passed the $600 million mark worldwide thanks to big grosses in China. And while “Jupiter Ascending” was a flop at home (still hasn’t grossed more than $45 million domestically), thanks once again to China, the movie has hit the $100 million mark internationally which should soften the blow for Warner Bros.
1. Chappie — $13,300,000
2. Focus — $10,020,000 ($34,573,000)
3. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel — $8,600,000
4. Kingsman: The Secret Service — $8,300,000 ($98,028,000)
5. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water — $7,000,000 ($148,993,000)
6. Fifty Shades of Grey — $5,604,000 ($156,448,000)
7. McFarland, USA — $5,318,000 ($29,426,000)
8. The Lazarus Effect — $5,100,000 ($17,400,000)
9. The DUFF — $4,850,000 ($26,116,000)
10. Unfinished Business —$4,800,000