The Jackie Robinson biopic 42 made history this weekend, scoring the all-time highest domestic opening for a baseball movie. From 3,003 locations, the film earned an estimated $27.2 million, or $7.5 million more than 2006’s Benchwarmers, the former genre title-holder. In second place, Scary Movie 5 earned $15.1 million from 3,402 runs, or just 37% of what Scary Movie 4 took in on this same weekend seven years ago.
|2.||Scary Movie 5||$15,153,000||$15.1|
|4.||G.I. Joe: Retaliation||$10,800,000||$102.4|
|5.||Evil Dead (2013)||$9,500,000||$41.5|
|6.||Jurassic Park 3D||$8,820,000||$31.9|
|7.||Olympus Has Fallen||$7,283,000||$81.8|
|8.||Oz the Great & Powerful||$4,923,000||$219.4|
|9.||Tyler Perry’s Temptation||$4,500,000||$45.4|
|10.||The Place Beyond the Pines||$4,079,000||$5.4|
If asked one week ago to rate the odds that 42 would score the highest debut ever for a baseball-themed feature, I would have laughed. And then I would have asked you what ‘42’ was. That’s because, until marketing for the film finally kicked in over the past few days, the biography of baseball legend Jackie Robinson had almost no visibility. It also had more than one strike working against it, in terms of its opening-gross potential.
Strike one: the film was about baseball, a genre that has produced only one $100 million+ feature (A League of Their Own) in the past thirty years.
Strike two: it was a period movie dealing with racism (you can ask George Lucas how well that worked out with Red Tails).
Strike three: 42 starred neither Tyler Perry nor Denzel Washington but the unknown Chadwick Boseman.
Even with all of these box-office strikes working against it, 42 ended up the easy winner this weekend, with nearly twice what Scary Movie 5 earned from 400 more locations. So, once again we see that “conventional box office wisdom” has its limits.
Of course, 42 did have some elements that worked in its favor this weekend. News outlets helped promote the film by running stories celebrating Robinson’s storied career as the man who broke baseball’s race barrier. Word of mouth also helped. The film earned a perfect A+ CinemaScore from audiences, which skewed heavily towards adults over 35. That demographic should help the film going forward. Back in 2011, Moneyball realized great week-to-week holds on the strength of its reviews and its appeal to older audiences.
That appeal was not something Scary Movie 5 had working for it. Seven years after its last installment, the Weinstein Co.’s horror spoof franchise was back in theatres this weekend. The fifth installment in the once-profitable series earned a fraction of its predecessors, however, and even managed to underperform the knock-off A Haunted House from this past January. Though disappointing for TWC, things could have been worse. Yesterday, it looked like Scary Movie 5 might top out at $13 million. Still, it’s safe to say that ‘Scary Movie 6’ is not in the works.
In terms of holdovers, G.I. Joe: Retaliation reached a milestone this weekend by breaking $100 million in domestic grosses. The Croods also had a good week. Along with securing another excellent hold (down just 36%) the animated hit passed Identity Thief to become the second-highest grossing title of 2013. Last weekend’s number one film, Evil Dead, saw a 63% drop in its sophomore frame. Though steep in any other genre, horror movies are not known for their staying power, which is why they rely so heavily on opening weekends.
After two weeks in limited release, Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines made it into this weekend’s top ten after expanding into 514 theatres. The indie drama starring Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper earned an estimated $4 million, or a per-location average of just under $8,000.
Overall earnings this weekend remained about even with 2012, when The Hunger Games dominated for its fourth, and final, frame. Next weekend will see just one major release with the sci-fi thriller Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise. Overseas, Oblivion has already earned $61.1 million from its 52 markets. Here at home, the film is expected to debut with at least $35 million so let’s see if conventional box office wisdom fails two weeks in a row.