Here are your three-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier - $26.6 million ($201.5 million total)
2. Rio 2 - $22.5 million ($75.3 million total)
3. Heaven Is for Real - $21.5 million ($28.5 million total)
4. Transcendence - $11.1 million ($11.1 million total)
5. A Haunted House 2 - $9.1 million ($9.1 million total)
6. Draft Day - $5.9 million ($19.5 million total)
7. Divergent - $5.7 million ($133.9 million total)
8. Oculus - $5.2 million ($21.1 million total)
9. Noah - $5.0 million ($93.2 million total)
10. God's Not Dead - $4.8 million ($48.3 million total)
The Big Stories
What a difference a day makes. Two days, actually. Or three if you want to consider the Easter calendar. The latest faith-based venture, Heaven Is for Real, the title of which is at best a spoiler alert, or at worst false advertising, opened two days prior to Good Friday. Midweek it bested all films including Captain America, setting up a potential four-way battle for the top spot. Two days of front-loading may have robbed it from stealing headlines with a number one finish. Alas its third place finish becomes less of a story than Johnny Depp's Transcendence, which could have had a full week under its belt and still not challenge the winners.
What's Happening to Johnny Depp?
Hopefully nobody is dim enough to suggest that this is some reaction to The Lone Ranger. People did not show up to Transcendence because of some postbomb punishment to the 12-time People's Choice Award-winning moviestar. The previews are still trying to figure out precisely what debuting director (and Oscar-winning cinematographer) Wally Pfister was going for. First it looked like The Lawnmower Man for a new generation; now the focus has shifted to making the film's cyber terrorists look like the bad guys. Whoever the villains actually are in the film, they clearly took Morgan Freeman's advice to "run from this place" and pushed Depp from the future back into his past.
Just look at Johnny Depp's post-Pirates opening three-day success:
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest ($135.6), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End ($127.9*), Alice in Wonderland ($116.1), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ($90.1), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ($56.1), Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl ($46.6), Rango ($38.0), The Lone Ranger ($30.1), Dark Shadows ($29.6), Public Enemies ($25.0), Once Upon a Time in Mexico ($23.4), Corpse Bride ($19.1), Secret Window ($18.2), The Tourist ($16.4), The Rum Diary ($5.1)
That doesn't even count the $50+ million grosses of his Oscar-nominated roles in Finding Neverland and Sweeney Todd; grosses that Transcendence--with its $11 million opening--will not come close to equaling. Granted most of those are tentpoles (the At World's End gross also includes Thursday night shows) and most all are representative of Depp's familiarity for quirky personas. That alone is something Trasnscendence is missing, as it takes a very creative actor and reduces him to HAL 9000's less interesting cousin.
Now we go back over a decade before Jack Sparrow officially moved Depp into the national consciousness; a feat critics had been trying to do for years.
Sleepy Hollow ($30.0), Blow ($12.4), Donnie Brasco ($11.6), From Hell ($11.0), The Ninth Gate ($6.6), Edward Scissorhands ($6.3), Don Juan de Marco ($4.5), The Astronaut's Wife ($4.0), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas ($3.3), Benny and Joon ($3.2), Nick of Time ($2.7)
And that's without mentioning Ed Wood and What's Eating Gilbert Grape, films that should not even be mentioned in the same sentence as Transcendence. It currently has a 19% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, nearly putting it amongst the 10 worst reviewed wide releases of 2014. Depp has a supporting role in the upcoming Into the Woods and is slated to be a part of Lionsgate hopeful franchise Mortdecai, but expect Pirates of the Caribbean 5 to be put on the fast track very soon.
Heaven Is Definitely Real (At Least at the Box Office)
Adapted and directed for the screen from the guy who wrote Braveheart (and Pearl Harbor), Randall Wallace's film (based on Todd Burpo's book) has received much better reviews than its faith-based counterparts.
Not including The Passion of the Christ or just how much the Narnia series counts, films of such messages and themes are having a good year. Heaven Is for Real is already $28 million rich on a $12 million budget making it Sony's first hit since American Hustle. Say what you will about Noah but it's grossed over $290 million worldwide and may still hit $100 million in the U.S. Son of God drew nearly $60 million in sales despite being an excerpt from an already-aired miniseries, and God's Not Dead ("I'm getting better") is still in the top 10 with over $48 million in sales on a $2 million budget. Compare that to Transcendence's God-fearing cyber bullies and $100 million budget. Of course, 2016: Obama's America grossed over $33 million, too, so I guess it pays to know your audience. Plus, remember that people seemed to have gotten tired of Johnny Depp too.
Tales of the Top 10
Two other films opened this weekend: Bears is looking like the least successful in the five years of the DisneyNature documentaries. A Haunted House 2 is starting with only about half of the first film's opening, but thanks to another miniscule budget (of $4 million) this will be Open Road's first true moneymaker since the original from January 2013. Proof indeed that God is not dead. But at the top your leaders have held steady. Rio 2 is just a few million off the pace of the first film, which grossed $143 million in the U.S. With over $200 million worldwide, the sequel should have no problem hitting a profit for Fox, but still needs quite a bit to erase Mr. Peabody & Sherman off the books.
Then there's your champ Captain America: The Winter Soldier, enjoying its third straight weekend in the number one slot. Next week it goes for four against The Other Woman, The Quiet Ones and Brick Mansions. Could he actually be taken down by Kate Upton? Well, who couldn't, really? But The Other Woman is unlikely to see the returns of a superhero who has no time for dating. Captain America is over $200 million in his home country and over $585 million worldwide. The first Amazing Spider-Man did over $750 million. Which Marvel film is more likely to hit that tally this year: The Winter Soldier or the sequel opening in two weeks? Time will tell, but things are still looking good for the Captain.
- Erik Childress can be seen each Thursday morning on WCIU-TV's First Business breaking down the box office on the Movies & Money segment.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]
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