It’s been a topsy-turvy year already in Hollywood. There have been great weekends where the audience could not hold back the love for the movies, and there have some terribly bad weekends when even three wide releases could not get anyone interested. It has been something like the latter this weekend in North America. The three releases managed a cumulative sum of less than $27 million, which ain’t impressive at all. Leading the new movies at the domestic box-office is Neil Blomkamp’s Chappie which had a rather disappointing $13.3 million opening, way lower than the openings of $37.4 million of District 9 and $29.8 million of Elysium (which are Blomkamp’s previous directorial works). Chappie has been made on a modest production budget of $49 million though, less than half of that of Elysium. In fact, the domestic opening of Chappie is even slightly better than Elysium as a % of their respective production budgets. But the thing about absolute numbers is that it shows how many tickets were sold, how many people walked into the show. And the above numbers indicate that Chappie has seen the least number of audience members amongst all of Blomkamp’s works, which is not a good sign for the one who is going to direct the next movie from the Alien universe. The fact that Hugh Jackman was part of Chappie has not really helped too, and maybe it had to do with the fact that he did not appear to be on the side of the good guys in the promos. The movie has a 29% Rottentomatoes score, a far cry from the 90% score of District 9 which had made Blomkamp so famous so soon. This fame comes with a big baggage that Blomkamp is now realizing, and hopefully he will be able to get his sci-fi magic working again.
The Second Best Marigold Hotel was the other release of the weekend which opened with $8.6 million, which in itself is not too fantastic, but seems like a good opening for this low budget film. The movie has been made on a similar budget of $10 million as was the original film of 2012; the latter was a sleeper hit, churning $137 million worldwide of which 66% came from the foreign shores. The sequel is also going to rely on good business from such lands and has already accumulated $21 million from outside North America, which takes the total collections close to $30 million. This movie could again very well surpass $100 million earnings worldwide, which would make it one of the best return-generating films of the year, and set the way for maybe a Third Best… you know what I mean.
The final movie with a nationwide release was the comedy Unfinished Business starring Vince Vaughn. Well, the movie should have stayed unfinished. The $35 million production budget and then the marketing budget, all seems to have gone down the drain, as the movie opened at the 10th place at the domestic box-office with only $4.8 million. That’s one of the worst openings for a Vince Vaughn film, and it is time that some of the older and once-popular comedians like him, who have seen their peaks but believe the world still wants more of them, take a good hard look at the kind of work they are doing. Talented though they maybe, but the similar kind of slapstick comedy cannot keep working, and someday we land up with something like Unfinished Business. Even with such a modest budget, this movie is quite likely to be a flop, scarring the R-rated comedy category which has been blossoming otherwise.
As for the ones from last week, Will Smith starrer Focus had a 46% fall in the second weekend; the movie has earned about $72 million so far worldwide, but it would be looking at twice that amount to break-even. A decent foreign run should help its cause. The horror movie The Lazarus Effect had a 50% dip, and the (extremely) low budget film has earned $17.4 million so far at the box-office, which is more than five times its budget already. Among the other big names, Kingsman: The Secret Service is very close to $250 million worldwide earnings, while American Sniper and Fifty Shades of Grey have breached the $500 million mark each; American Sniper is in fact going to become the biggest film of 2014 this weekend in North America. What an achievement for a war movie!
Here are the top 5 weekend earners at the US box-office:
1. Chappie ($13.3 million)
2. Focus ($10.0 million; second weekend)
3. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel ($8.6 million)
4. Kingsman: The Secret Service ($8.3 million; fourth weekend)
5. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water ($7.0 million; fifth weekend)