Here are your three-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Mr. Peabody & Sherman - $21.2 million ($63.1 million total)
2. 300: Rise of an Empire - $19.1 million ($78.3 million total)
3. Need for Speed - $17.8 million ($17.8 million total)
4. Non-Stop - $10.6 million ($68.8 million total)
5. Tyler Perry's The Single Mom's Club - $8.3 million ($8.3 million total)
6. The Lego Movie - $7.7 million ($236.9 million total)
7. Son of God - $5.4 million ($50.8 million total)
8. The Grand Budapest Hotel - $3.6 million ($4.7 million total)
9. Frozen - $2.1 million ($396.3 million total)
10. Veronica Mars - $2.0 million ($2.0 million total)
The Big Stories
What a difference a week makes. Last Monday, Wall Street was sent into a panic by Dreamworks Animation. The puns flew from the moneymen unenthused with the $100 million worldwide gross of Mr. Peabody & Sherman. Peabody & Sherman wasn't hitting Lego numbers and its opening was only ranked 10th amongst animated March openers, but look what has hung around to be number one in its second weekend. Meanwhile, as those same investors are sure to turn their ire to the number two film, there's still something to be said about dogs and loyalty this week.
Prepare to (Not) Qualify
If driving games have been the rage all these years, then how come we never got a film made from Pole Position? That Spy Hunter movie with the Rock never got off the ground and everyone's dream film of Bump 'n' Jump remains a fantasy. So I guess we have to stick with Need for Speed. Directed by Act of Valor's Scott Waugh, the racing film features little in the way of active Navy SEAL members and even less support from critics. Audiences rated the film a "B+" while critics ranked it 14th amongst 24 wide releases in 2014; the 12th film to score less than 25% at Rotten Tomatoes this year. As debuts of video game adaptation go:
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider ($47.7 million), Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time ($30.0), Mortal Kombat ($23.2), Silent Hill ($20.1), Need for Speed ($18.0), Resident Evil ($17.7), Max Payne ($17.6), Doom ($15.4), Hitman ($13.1), Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within ($11.4)
The first Tomb Raider is the only true video game adaptation to gross over $100 million in the U.S. So even Need for Speed's reasonable budget (by today's standards) of $66 million seems pretty costly if it can't pull in a fifth of what Fast & Furious 6 did overseas. (A $45.6 million start certainly helps.) With all the grief DreamWorks' animation division got last week, the live-action side cannot be feeling much better. Since 2011 it has been behind I Am Number Four, Cowboys & Aliens, Fright Night, Real Steel, A Thousand Words, People Like Us, The Fifth Estate and Delivery Man. All losers at the box office. Its only winners in that time have been The Help and anything associated with its frontman, Steven Spielberg (War Horse & Lincoln as well as Tintin on the animated side.) It's too early to call the race for Need for Speed yet, but Dreamworks is surely counting the days until How to Train Your Dragon 2 comes out.
Speaking of Dogs
Tyler Perry had his worst opening as a director this weekend. Oh, we're just kidding. He's not really a director. Though the DGA may want to give him that credit, Lionsgate doesn't seem to be that interested in granting him that privilege anymore. We'll have to suffer a few more films under the studio's banner, but the hack's first-look deal over there was not renewed. That might seem odd to some since his films cost about a $1.05 to make. But both A Madea Christmas and Temptation came up in the red (not to mention Tyler Perry Presents Peeples.) With The Single Mom's Club opening to under $10 million (the first of Perry's films to do so) and his last three directorial efforts amongst his bottom four openers overall it looks like we could be finally seeing him less than twice a year.
Speaking of Loyalty
Finally arriving (in a limited basis) in theaters was the big-screen adaptation of TV's Veronica Mars. Fans put up $2 million and Warner Bros. kicked in another $4 million to see the beloved series released in more homes than theaters. Amazon and iTunes users could stay in their living room to check out the film which brings nearly enough sass to counterbalance a rather lame story and mystery. But the hard-cores truly showed their support, investing another $2 million in the project this weekend by paying the ticket costs. Then the Wes Anderson platform show continued with The Grand Budapest Hotel adding 62 screens and breaking into the top 10 with $3.6 million. By contrast, Moonrise Kingdom shot up to 96 screens in its third weekend and only grossed $1.5 million. This is a good news/bad news situation depending on where you stand on Anderson's cinematic quirks.
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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