Weekend Box Office: SPONGEBOB Absorbs $56 Million; JUPITER ASCENDING in Third as SEVENTH SON Plummets

     February 8, 2015

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On the heels of American Sniper’s amazing three-week run on top of the domestic box office, audiences were clearly in the mood for some lighter fare. They got it courtesy of SpongeBob SquarePants: the eponymous star of Nickelodeon’s long-running animated TV series. After making his feature debut back in 2004 in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, the absorbent, yellow, and porous legend is back with The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. This time out, Bob, Patrick et. al., get the full CGI treatment – following earlier animated properties like Alvin & the Chipmunks, The Smurfs and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that overcame their 2D origins and found new life at the box office.

Sponge Out of Water took in an estimated $56 million from 3,641 locations, including 3D venues. That’s just 18% below what The LEGO Movie earned on the same weekend in 2014 and stands as the fifth-highest February opening of all time. Considering that most projections put SpongeBob between $25 and $35 million, that counts as a landslide for distributor Paramount.

But with the momentum building behind next weekend’s Fifty Shades of Grey premiere, there is no chance that Sponge Out of Water will hold on to first place for a second week (never mind the three weeks that LEGO locked down last year). On the other hand, the film’s relatively strong critical response (75% on Rotten Tomatoes; B CinemaScore) suggests SpongeBob will remain a tempting choice for families seeking an alternative to Grey’s R-rated action nest weekend.

Though it ceded first place to SpongeBob, American Sniper continues to impress. The Warner Bros. release was down just 21% in its fourth frame in wide release. Perhaps more importantly, Sniper also brought its domestic total above $282 million, making it the third highest-grossing film of 2014. The Best Picture nominee is now second only to Mockingjay – Part 1 ($335.7 million) and Guardians of the Galaxy ($333.2 million).

jupiter-ascending-final-posterThe continual good news concerning Sniper will surely help Warner Bros. overcome the dark cloud surrounding its latest wide release: Jupiter Ascending. The sci-fi epic from The Wachowski siblings (of The Matrix fame and Speed Racer infamy) opened with an estimated $19 million from 3,181 locations. To be fair, that’s not quite as dismal as it could have been. True, most people (including Warner’s execs) expected Jupiter to open above $20 million, but considering the film’s toxic word of mouth (22% on Rotten Tomatoes) and poor Friday showing ($6.4 million), I expected to see it’s estimate drop as low as $16 million. As it is, Jupiter Ascending has the distinction of being The Wachowski’s highest debut since producing 2005’s V for Vendetta – that’s more than both Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas, in other words, so – Yay?

The less-than disastrous opening of Jupiter Ascending left the weekend’s other big debut, Universal’s Seventh Son,  to sink. The fantasy film, featuring Oscar nominee Julianne Moore, took in an estimated $7.1 million from 2,875 locations. That’s just slightly above last weekend’s Black or White (which opened in 1,000 fewer venues) but lower than notable misses from 2014, including I, Frankenstein ($8.6 million) and The Legend of Hercules ($8.8 million). Even more discouraging, Seventh Son received just 10% from Rotten Tomatoes critics, so don’t expect it to stick around long.

As you may have heard, the long-awaited adaptation of EL James’ mommy-porn novel ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ hits theatres next weekend. While there was some question whether fans of the book would embrace the big screen version, it looks like those doubts have now been erased. Fandango is reporting that Grey is already the fastest-selling R-rated title in the site’s history. Projections for next weekend’s box office are currently running as high as $88 million. It’s important to note that anything over $83.8 would give Fifty Shades the record for the highest February opening of all time – finally topping the 11 year-old title set by The Passion of the Christ.

Check back next weekend to see how it all plays out.

 Title Weekend Total
1.  The SpongeBob Movie $56,000,000 $56
2.  American Sniper $24,165,000 $282.2
3.  Jupiter Ascending $19,000,000 $19
4.  Seventh Son $7,101,000 $7.1
5.  Paddington $5,365,000 $57.2
6.  Project Almanac $5,300,000 $15.8
7.  The Imitation Game $4,881,000 $74.7
8.  The Wedding Ringer $4,880,000 $55.1
9.  Black or White $4,520,000 $13.1
10.  The Boy Next Door $4,101,000 $30.8

 

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