New releases disappoint in USA, while ‘Apes’ storm China

There were two wide releases on the final weekend of the Summer period in the USA, and if you thought that things would end with a bang, then think again, for it all ended with a whimper. Just to give an idea on how bad things were, the combined weekend earnings for the two new releases turned out to be lower than the weekend earnings of the movie at the top of the box-office charts, Guardians of the Galaxy, despite the Marvel movie being in its fifth weekend. Wow, that’s really bad!

The horror flick As Above / So Below garnered $8.6 million in North America on its opening weekend, which is really not much of a surprise in a year where horror flicks have hardly made a mark. This “found footage” film offers little new, but the only shining light is the rather limited production budget of $5 million on which the movie has been made. This movie reminds me of Devil’s Due that was made on a $7 million budget and had opened earlier this year with very similar numbers; it had also deployed the “found footage” formula. Devil’s Due barely managed $16 million in North America and another $20 million or so in foreign markets, which would have hardly given any return to the studios if the marketing costs had been something similar to the production budget. On similar lines, the future for As Above / So Below looks quite bleak unless it manages a stronger foreign run, though I can’t see that happening.

As Above, So Below

The other disappointing release was that of The November Man. This one was supposed to be the return of Pierce Brosnan to spy flicks though as it turns out, not many were interested. A $7.9 million domestic opening is quite a disaster for a $15 million budget movie. The movie may just manage to do better in foreign lands and salvage something, but in all fairness, the producers are bound to lose money here. The end of August is not really the best time for a movie release, and whether you like it or not, Pierce Brosnan is no longer the attention grabber as he was a decade back. His last James Bond flick was 2002’s Die Another Day, subsequent to which he has not managed a single $100 million domestic earner apart from the musical Mamma Mia! where it is fair to say that Brosnan was not the main draw. There have been a series of bad movie selections for Pierce Brosnan ever since he gave up the “007” tag, which makes the non-performance of The November Man unsurprising. He definitely needs to find his bearings again!

Earnings_The November Man

So with no worthy competitor to dislodge it, the Marvel superhit Guardians of the Galaxy remains atop the domestic box-office charts, which makes it three weeks out of five at the numero uno position. The movie is well on its way to cross $300 million in the domestic market and would comfortably cross much more than that abroad. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles continues to enjoy a long run in the top two spots, benefiting from the slew of weak releases in recent weeks. The third position too remains unchanged, claimed by the “youth adult” genre movie If I Stay which dropped only 40% on its second weekend and has earned $32 million in North America over 10 days — a solid collection figure for a $11 million movie. 

The big story from the foreign markets comes from China. The movie Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, already a certified hit, opened there with $47 million which is the fourth best opening for a Hollywood title in China. This Matt Reeves film has now grossed $611 million worldwide, which includes $205 million from North America, and as its journey in China has only begun, the numbers have still quite some way to go up! It has already moved well beyond the $482 million worldwide earnings of Rise of the Planet of the Apes which itself had been seen as such a surprise success story. Kudos to 20th Century Fox for rebooting this series with such quality and elegance, to directors Rupert Wyatt and Matt Reeves for giving these tales a touch of grandiose, and to the actors behind Caesar and the others for making the animals strike a chord with the humans.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes_Apes

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

1. Guardians of the Galaxy ($17.1 million; fifth weekend)

2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ($11.9 million; fourth weekend)

3. If I Stay ($9.3 million; second weekend)

4. As Above / So Below ($8.6 million)

5. Let’s Be Cops ($8.3 million; third weekend)


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