Flops leave holdovers on top
LOS ANGELES (AP):
It was a truly outrageous weekend at the box office - and not in a good way.
The pack of new releases proved to be all-out duds, some worse than others, leaving room for holdovers The Martian and Goosebumps to stay in the top spots with US$15.9 and US$15.5 million, respectively, according to Rentrak estimates yesterday. The Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks Cold War thriller Bridge of Spies also held nicely in third place with US$11 million.
Vin Diesel's The Last Witch Hunter tanked with US$10.8 million, killing any hopes of a new franchise. The Lionsgate film opened in fourth place and cost a reported US$70 million to produce. This is the latest disappointment for Diesel, who can't seem to find consistent success outside of the Fast & Furious franchise.
None of the weekend's flops will garner as much attention as Jem and the Holograms, which opened to US$1.3 million to become one of the worst debuts of all time for a major studio movie opening in over 2,000 locations. Based on the 1980s animated series, the film opened on 2,413 screens, averaging US$545 per screen to take 15th place.
The wide release numbers are alarming, but it is worth noting that Universal produced the PG-rated Jem for only US$5 million. Overall, teens did not seem all that interested in a movie based on a show that was popular decades before they were born. Audiences that did turn out were overwhelmingly female (in the 90 per cent range).
Bill Murray's Rock the Kasbah barely did better in ticket sales, pulling in only US$1.5 million from 2,012 cinemas, but it cost three times as much as Jem to produce. It is one of Murray's worst debuts ever and a low point for Open Road Films. Critics were not fans of the Barry Levinson-directed comedy about a rock manager who finds a new client in Afghanistan.
Poor reviews might have sunk Witch Hunter, Jem and Kasbah, but good reviews couldn't propel Danny Boyle's Steve Jobs to flashy heights. After two very strong limited-release weekends, the biopic failed to impress in wide release with a US$7.3-million take. That's on par with 2013's Jobs, which starred Ashton Kutcher and opened to US$6.7 million, despite much poorer reviews.
Universal isn't disappointed with the expansion numbers and anticipates that Steve Jobs will continue to be in the cultural conversation, especially as the awards season kicks off. The film cost approximately US$30 million to make and has made US$9.98 million to date.
The low-budget Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension didn't do very well either, with a franchise-low take of US$8.2 million from 1,656 screens - over 1,000 fewer than other films in the series.
Part of the reason for the low screen count is that Paramount was experimenting with a shorter home entertainment window. The film will be available digitally 17 days after it leaves cinemas as opposed to the usual 90 days. AMC and Cineplex agreed to participate in the model, but others refused to play the movie.
"It feels to us really clear that any issues that we had were not related to consumer behaviour," said Megan Colligan, Paramount's president of worldwide distribution and marketing.
The lacklustre weekend at the box office could be the result of overcrowding, according to Paul Dergarabedian, Rentrak's senior media analyst. "There're just too many films being released into the marketplace. Over the past month we've had, on average, at least three new wide-release films entering the marketplace every week," Dergarabedian said. "Audiences - and particularly older audiences for whom these films have great appeal - they're staying away. It's like they're opting out. It's easy to get lost if you're a newcomer into such a crowded environment."
As audiences pick and choose where to spend their entertainment dollars, Dergarabedian also notes that there is a handful of probable blockbusters on the way. Among them are Spectre, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
"It's not like all is lost at the box office," Dergarabedian said.
Following are the estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US and Canadian cinemas, according to Rentrak.
1. The Martian, US$15.9 million.
2. Goosebumps, US$15.5 million.
3. Bridge of Spies, US$11.4 million.
4. The Last Witch Hunter, US$10.8 million.
5. Hotel Transylvania 2, US$9 million.
6. Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, US8.2 million.
7. Steve Jobs, US$7.3 million.
8. Crimson Peak, US$5.6 million.
9. The Intern, US$3.9 million.
10. Woodlawn, US$3.1 million.