Halloween is round the corner, and the ‘spooky’ films are going to be in great demand. But it is tough to put a Jack Black movie in that category, isn’t it? Nonetheless, it was indeed the PG-rated Goosebumps, with Jack Black playing the real-life author R.L. Stine in a fictional story, that topped the box-office charts in North America this weekend. The movie earned $23.5 million, a decent start for a $58 million budget film. It ain’t a spectacular opening, that’s for certain, but then it did manage to top the box-office amidst competition from three other wide releases. This is one of the best openings for a Jack Black led non-animated movie in many years, and we have to go back to 2006’s Nacho Libre to find something better. The reviews too aren’t bad, as the 72% score on Rottentomatoes suggest. If the film does do well in a few foreign territories, earning upwards of say $100 million aside from the domestic earnings, then Goosebumps would have done enough to be a hit for Sony Pictures.
Steven Spielberg’s Cold War movie Bridge of Spies took in $15.4 million in North America, which is a bit of a disappointment, considering that it is a Spielberg movie. The movie had a production budget of $40 million and so might roughly need $120 million worldwide to break-even. The movie’s success thus would depend a lot on the extent of foreign markets it opens in, because domestically, Bridge of Spies might struggle to go much beyond $60 million. The movie’s reviews have been largely fantastic, and I wonder if it should have been released closer to the Oscar nomination period, just to generate more interest during the awards period. Another disappointment comes in the form of Crimson Peak by Guillermo del Toro which earned only $12.9 million, that is about half of the earnings of Goosebumps while the production budgets are similar. The audience has chosen the light-hearted ‘horror’ of Goosebumps than the gothic romance of Crimson Peak, marking the second successive time that Guillermo del Toro has failed to charm the American audience, the previous movie being Pacific Rim. But Pacific Rim had a humongous production budget which is not the case with Crimson Peak, and if it can earn $100 million or so in the foreign markets, then things might not look that bad at all. If it doesn’t then it would be a rare time in 2015 when Universal Pictures went wrong.
The last of the wide releases is the faith-based sports drama Woodlawn starring Sean Astin which opened in about 1,500 theatres earning $4.1 million. That again is not a good enough opening for a $25 million budget movie which might hardly have any theatrical release outside North America. There has been a surge of faith-based movies in the past couple of years, with studios obviously realising that a market specifically exists for this genre, but setting aside a budget as high as $25 million is quite risky. Rottentomatoes has counted only 6 reviews for Woodlawn, but all of them have been positive. That may still not save the movie though! Among the holdovers, The Martian has solid earnings of $319 million worldwide, going strong both in the domestic and international market. The same holds true for Hotel Transylvania 2 which has earned $268 million worldwide so far. Last week’s Pan dropped by 62% in North America, though managed to do better in foreign markets, and has a cumulative earning of $73 million worldwide; it’s already a dead duck though! And before we wrap up, Marvel’s Ant-Man opened in China this weekend to some good numbers. The movie has earned $455 million worldwide, which includes $179 million from North America where it is almost done with its theatrical run, and eventually should just about move north of $500 million.
Here are the top 5 weekend earners at the US box-office (estimates):
1. Goosebumps ($23.5 million)
2. The Martian ($21.5 million; third weekend)
3. Bridge of Spies ($15.4 million)
4. Crimson Peak ($12.9 million)
5. Hotel Transylvania 2 ($12.3 million; fourth weekend)