Exodus is neither God nor King at the US box-office

If you read most of the movie headlines for today, you would find some websites screaming stuff like “Exodus: Gods and Kings dethrones The Hunger Games” or “Exodus: Gods and Kings conquers weekend box-office”. How misleading can such headlines be! True, the recently released Exodus: Gods and Kings has topped the box-office in North America, but its battle was against a movie running in its fourth weekend — The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1. The other wide release of the weekend Top Five opened in less than a third of the theatres as compared to Exodus: Gods and Kings, so there was no competition at all. A movie’s box-office performance has to be judged more on the basis of a comparison with its production and marketing budgets, and less by its relative ranking on the charts. So that’s what we are going to do.

Earnings_Exodus - Gods and Kings

Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings is an expensive film with a $140 million production budget alone; keeping that figure in mind, the opening weekend earning of $24.5 million in North America is quite poor. Such an opening suggests that the movie may struggle to even reach $100 million in the domestic market. We could draw a direct comparison with another biblical tale that released earlier this year, Noah, which had a slightly lower production budget of $125 million, opened with $44 million in North America, and barely managed to cross the $100 million figure. Exodus: Gods and Kings has started way below and so has a really big mountain to climb. But the month of December usually sees lower falls in subsequent weeks, as the holiday period approaches, so that may somewhat help. I estimate that the movie may need something around $400 million to $450 million worldwide to achieve break-even, and for that to happen, it will have to rely heavily on Christian Bale’s global appeal. Can Exodus: Gods and Kings manage a $300 million plus figure outside North America? Tough question to figure out as of now; the movie has earned $50 million so far in foreign markets, and it would really need things to go right in all the big markets to manage such high earnings. Noah did manage $261 million in foreign markets alone, so it would be too early to dismiss of Exodus: Gods and Kings. Nonetheless, however further the movie manages to reach, it has really not been the biblical miracle Ridley Scott would have been hoping for!

Earnings_Top Five

The other domestic wide release of the weekend was Chris Rock’s comedy film Top Five, though it released in only 979 theatres. A low budget movie, made with $10 million, it had a pretty decent opening with $7.2 million. Paramount Pictures has plans to gradually increase the screenings of the film, which coupled with very strong reviews (89% score on Rottentomatoes), could lead to healthy returns for the studio. It would definitely top Chris Rock’s previous film as a director, I Think I Love My Wife, that barely earned $13 million. Now a quick roundup of the holdover films. The Hunger Games, Mockingjay – Part 1 stands at $611 million worldwide, with still a lot of strength left in its legs. Penguins of Madagascar is doing better business outside than at home and has earned $175 million globally, but it needs way more to even achieve break-even. The outlook for Horrible Bosses 2 remains dismal. A final word on the Stephen Hawking biopic, The Theory of Everything, which has scaled to more than 1,000 theatres over the weekend. It’s a low budget movie ($15 million), and with the award buzz, it has been building its reputation slowly and confidently. The gross earnings currently stand at close to $20 million, but expect more attention to come its way when the Oscar nominations are announced.

Next weekend, a saga comes to a conclusion with the release of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies in North America, and the dull box-office could finally wake up. The movie opened in a few countries this weekend, and has already grossed $117 million. To USA, it heads next!

Here are the top 5 weekend earners at the US box-office (estimates):

1. Exodus: Gods and Kings ($24.5 million)

2. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 ($13.2 million; fourth weekend)

3. Penguins of Madagascar ($7.3 million; third weekend)

4. Top Five ($7.2 million)

5. Big Hero 6 ($6.1 million; sixth weekend)


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