As expected, Exodus: Gods and Kings easily claimed first place this weekend. The biblical epic earned an estimated $24.5 million from 3,503 locations – on track with studio expectations for the Ridley Scott feature. Exodus also sent Mockingjay- Part 1 into second place for the first time in its three-week run. You shouldn’t feel too bad for Katniss, though. Not only has the penultimate chapter in The Hunger Games franchise earned over $610 million worldwide in just 24 days, it also now ranks as the second highest-grossing domestic release of 2014 – behind only Guardians of the Galaxy.
|1.||Exodus: Gods & Kings||$24,500,000||$24.5|
|2.||Mockingjay – Part 1||$13,200,000||$277.8|
|3.||Penguins of Madagascar||$7,300,000||$58.8|
|5.||Big Hero 6||$6,145,000||$185.3|
|7.||Horrible Bosses 2||$4,630,000||$43.6|
|8.||Dumb and Dumber To||$2,757,000||$82.1|
|9.||The Theory of Everything||$2,525,000||$17.1|
Full story after the jump.
Last weekend marked one of the lowest-grossing frames of an already lackluster year. That’s not unusual for the post-Thanksgiving frame, of course; what is a bit more unusual is for the first frame of the normally bountiful holiday season to fail to bring out the crowds. The overall estimate for this weekend’s top ten came in at $75.3 million – just a bit higher than the $73.6 million that The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug brought in on the same weekend last year… by itself. The box office should get back in the black when the third and final Hobbit film hits theatres on Wednesday, but that won’t help make this morning’s estimates appear any more inspiring.
The second major release, after Exodus: Gods and Kings, was Top Five – written, directed and starring Chris Rock. The R-rated comedy opened in 979 locations and earned an estimated $7.2 million. At $7,365 per screen, that equaled a better per-screen average than the $6,994 of this weekend’s number one film. The two new titles also showed a wide disparity in terms of their critical receptions: where Top Five has become the most highly-praised comedy of 2014, with a Rotten Tomato score of 89%, Exodus earned just 27% and, perhaps more ominously, received a B- from CinemaScore audiences. While there’s no way to draw long term conclusions from a holiday-season opening, it’s safe to say that Exodus will have an uphill climb to make it past $100 million in its domestic run.
On the heels of its limited release in 21 theatres last weekend, Wild cracked the top ten after expanding its run to 116 locations. The Fox Searchlight drama brought in an estimated $1.5 million, or $13,362 per-screen, and scored a Golden Globe nomination for star Reese Witherspoon. So, on top of the seven nominations Birdman collected, Fox Searchlight is experiencing an excellent start to their holiday season.
In terms of the box office, of course, the rest of the year should belong to Warner Bros. Not only is The Battle of Five Armies the final chapter in the studio’s The Hobbit trilogy, it’s also a finale, of sorts, to director Peter Jackson’s hugely profitable Lord of the Rings – at least if you’ve been paying attention to the studio’s marketing campaign. Over five films and 13 years, the LOTR/Hobbit films have earned a staggering $4.9 billion worldwide, not adjusted for inflation. With over 3,500 venues screening the film in 3D, IMAX and every other premium-price package conceivable, expect The Battle of Five Armies to start strong with close to $45 million on Wednesday, followed by another $70 million for its debut weekend. The Hobbit 3 has already earned over $117 million from its initial international territories, putting it ahead of the first two films in most countries. Check back Thursday to see how North American audiences choose to say farewell to Bilbo.