‘In the Heart of the Sea’ Sails to Victory at Friday Box Office

     December 12, 2015

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If you feel like this weekend is a bit of box office bummer, you’re not wrong. With just one week to go before Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theatres, it would be surprising if any film was able to gain significant traction. Of course, someone’s got to try, and this week it fell to director Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea to be overshadowed by the force on the horizon.

Based on the sinking of the whaling vessel Essex in 1820 (the real-life incident inspired Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’), In the Heart of the Sea reunites Howard and Chris Hemsworth. The pair last teamed for 2013’s Rush, which opened with just over $10 million in its first wide frame. In the Heart of the Sea will claim more this weekend, though that’s hardly impressive given the new film’s higher theatre count, including 3D and IMAX screens.


On Friday the film earned an estimated $3.8 million from 3,103 locations, which was good enough for first place. Pre-release projections had In the Heart of the Sea opening between $15 and $17 million, but it now seems like $12 million may be its high-water mark. That’s just half what Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings earned on the same weekend last year – and that film is no one’s idea of an early holiday winner (to be fair, Exodus performed much better internationally than it did in North America).

in-the-heart-of-the-sea-posterThe real problem with a sub-par debut for Warner Bros.’ whaling feature is it will give The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 a good shot at winning its fourth consecutive box office title. On Friday, the final chapter in The Hunger Games series earned an estimated $3.2 million from 3,651 locations (down from last weekend’s 4,086). Assuming the film sees a fourth-frame hold in-line with last year’s Mockingjay –Part 1 (-42%), Katniss is well within range of overtaking In the Heart of the Sea for first place. Whichever film winds up on top, it’s likely to be close. Of course, when you’re dealing with grosses this small even a photo finish lacks drama.

Elsewhere in the top five, The Good Dinosaur earned a reported $2.25 million on Friday. The animated feature seems poised to make up for its steep sophomore drop with a projected $10 million third weekend. That would be much more familiar territory for Pixar, equaling a hold of about -34%. Last weekend’s surprise hit Krampus fell to fourth on Friday with an estimated $2.5 million. The horror-comedy should wind up with a bit more than $6 million in its sophomore frame. And finally, Creed continues to realize strong holds in its third frame, though it didn’t hurt that MGM/New Line added another 78 locations to its run.

Here’s Friday’s top five films, based on studio estimates:

 Title Friday Total
1.  In the Heart of the Sea $3,845,000 $3.84
2.  The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2 $3,260,000 $236.4
3.  Creed $2,985,000 $72.1
4.  Krampus $2,530,000 $22.6
5.  The Good Dinosaur $2,252,000 $81.4

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