November 29, 2015

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office: 11/27/15

There was enough product at the multiplexes to make for a solid Thanksgiving weekend total, but holiday fireworks were absent.

OPENINGS:  THE GOOD DINOSAUR (Pixar/Disney) had a $39.2M weekend ($55.6M since its Wednesday opening), putting it behind Frozen ($67.4M), Toy Story 2 ($57.4M) and Tangled ($48.8M) among Thanksgiving openings.  It continues to run closest to Enchanted ($34.4M), which ended up with a $127.8M US total.  Dinosaur‘s only family competition through the end of the year is the newest Alvin & the Chipmunks epic, which doesn’t open for 3 weeks, so it should have a healthy run (of course, a little number called The Force Awakens, despite its PG-13 rating, will engulf many families in its wake as well over the holiday season).  A $150M US total would put Dinosaur at the bottom of the Pixar scale, below 1998’s A Bug’s Life ($162.8M), although ironically quite close to Disney’s (but not Pixar’s) 2000 Dinosaur ($137.8M).  Profitability probably isn’t an issue, despite the $350M production/marketing cost, but even having to mention that in the same year that Inside Out made $851.5M worldwide suggest that this is an underperformer.  Good Dinosaur‘s international run will be stretched into early 2016, so we won’t have a clear idea for a while of where it stands overseas, but this weekend it began in 39 markets with an unremarkable $28.7M.

CREED (MGM/New Line/Warners) cost under $40M to produce, although the typical Warners marketing blitz will add tens of millions to that.  Nevertheless, its $30.1M weekend ($42.6M since Wednesday) is a solid start for a film that will hope to ride reviews and word of mouth (and possibly even critics’ awards) through the rest of the year.  Creed dipped its toe into international release with $2.2M in 8 markets.

VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN (TSG/20th), unlike its titular character’s creation, stayed dead with a $2.4M weekend ($3.4M since Wednesday).  Its overseas start was a bit more lifelike with $10M in 24 territories, but with $150M+ in production/marketing costs, it’s unlikely ever to emerge from red ink.

A pair of arthouse releases expanded into semi-wide release this weekend.  BROOKLYN (Fox Searchlight), now at 845 theatres, launched well with a $4500 weekend average.  TRUMBO (Bleecker Street) was considerably behind at 617 theatres with a $2500 average.  Both will hope for support from critics’ awards groups to sustain them through the holidays.

HOLDOVERS:  THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2 (Lionsgate) continued to be big but not as big as its predecessors.  It fell 50% from last weekend despite the holiday to $51.6M over the weekend, while during the same span last year, the first Mockingjay earned $57M (although in fairness that was a slightly steeper 53% drop from the weekend before).  Mockingjay 2 is now at $198.3M in the US (compared to $225.7M for Mockingjay 1), and is still headed for the neighborhood of $300M.  Overseas, Mockingjay 2 is at $242.4M after a $62M weekend, which is about $12M below where Mockingjay 1 was after its 3rd weekend–but that figure didn’t include China.  It seems unlikely that Mockingjay 2 will match the first Mockingjay‘s $755.4M total, let alone Catching Fire‘s $865M, and the question is whether it can beat the first Hunger Games‘ $694.4M and avoid ending the series on a low (if still very profitable) note.

Thanks to the holiday, SPECTRE (MGM/Columbia/Sony) slipped just 15% from last weekend to $12.8M, giving it $176.1M in the US.  That’s still far below the $245.6M that Skyfall had at this point in its run.  Overseas, Spectre earned $30.4M in a run that covers almost the entire world (but not yet Japan), for a $573.5M total.  That’s a lot of money, but even if Spectre reaches $850M worldwide, that will be a major step back from the $1.1B for Skyfall.

With the arrival of Good Dinosaur, THE PEANUTS MOVIE (Blue Sky/20th) fell 27% even with the holiday audience available, to $9.7M and a US total of $116.8M.  It’s not likely to reach $150M in the US, but its overall picture is still unclear since it’s just in a few overseas territories, with less than $10M earned to date.

The holiday-themed THE NIGHT BEFORE (Columbia/Sony) held well, down 17% from last weekend to $8.2M for a $24.1M total.  It’s still going to struggle to reach $50M in the US.  THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES (STX) didn’t fare as well, down 32% to $4.5M for a moribund $15M total and little hope of getting past $25M.

SPOTLIGHT (Open Road) expanded its run by about 50% to 897 theatres and climbed 27% to a $4.5M weekend that gives it $12.3M to date.  With a per-theatre weekend average of $5K, it’s in good shape for the awards run that’s kicking in.

Finally, although THE MARTIAN (TSG/20th) is near the end of its US run, with a $3.3M weekend and $218.6M total, it’s just arrived in China, where it had a splendid $50.1M opening weekend.  That puts its international total at $326.5M, and worldwide it’s at $544M with Japan still to come.  It’s also in the awards race, although Fox’s questionable decision to place it in the “Comedy” category may damage more than help it.

LIMITED RELEASE:  The weekend’s prestige arrival was THE DANISH GIRL (Focus/Universal), which given the holiday crowds available was only OK with a $46K weekend average at 4 NY/LA arthouses.  CAROL (Weinstein) did better than that in its 2d weekend, averaging $51K at 4.  LEGEND (Universal) expanded to 40 theatres with an unthrilling $7K average.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The next 2 weeks are notoriously terrible at the box office, while prospective audiences shop and do other holiday things, although the studios certainly fuel that shortfall by opening their dregs during this period.  In any case, the only wide opening is the horror comedy KRAMPUS (Legendary/Universal).  However, with awards season in full gear, there are plenty of arrivals at the arthouses, including Spike Lee’s CHI-RAQ (Amazon/Roadside), MACBETH (Weinstein), THE LADY IN THE VAN (Sony Classics) and YOUTH (Fox Searchlight).


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."