Here are your three-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Non-Stop - $30.0 million
2. Son of God - $26.5 million
3. The Lego Movie - $21.0 million
4. The Monuments Men - $5.0 million
5. 3 Days to Kill - $4.9 million
6. RoboCop - $4.5 million
7. Pompeii - $4.3 million
8. Frozen - $3.6 million
9. About Last Night - $3.4 million
10. Ride Along - $3.0 million
The Big Stories
Would the Christians show up this weekend? That was the question on every box office prognosticator's mind. On one hand, it's hard to underestimate them during this impending holy period. Ten years ago, The Passion of the Christ was such an event that it remains the second biggest film ever released between January and April; beaten only by The Hunger Games. On the other hand, would the fact that Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are on such a blatant cash grab by editing down their Bible miniseries for a big-screen director's cut keep people away? Well, it kept just enough away to allow Liam Neeson to take the top spot at the box office.
You Can Only Hope to Contain Him
And they did, on a plane, where Oskar Schindler is out to prevent random killings. Yes, we know he's not that one-time Oscar nominee anymore. He's LIAM NEESON, ACTION STAR! Who isn't OK with that though? It's not like the one-time serious dramatic actor has gone all Nic Cage on us and settled into making one dreck-filled feature after another. Unless you count Battleship, Unknown, Taken 2 and two Titans films filled with wrath and clashing. But, hey, Taken still rules, The A-Team is a lot of fun, but where was everyone the last time Neeson was on a doomed flight? The Grey was the best of the bunch and it did less than all of those pictures.
Clash of the Titans ($61.2), Taken 2 ($49.5), Wrath of the Titans ($33.4), Non-Stop ($30.0), The A-Team ($25.6), Battleship ($25.5), Taken ($24.7), Unknown ($21.8), The Grey ($19.6)
That ranks this weekend's Non-Stop as Neeson's best nonsequel opener in the post-Taken era. Folks are only encouraging Liam to continue working with director Jaume Collet-Serra who made us believe in the insanity of Orphan, a film whose big twist looks positively plausible compared to Unknown and Non-Stop. The director who kicked off his career giving Paris Hilton a big-screen job in the House of Wax remake is not getting better in the big chair; in fact he's regressing. And even though the grosses are going up, the faith in Neeson is beginning to look a little Cage-y. He already has a third project with Serra in the works for next February called Run All Night. What's it about? According to IMDb, "An aging hit man is forced to take on his brutal former boss to protect his estranged son and his family." No familiarity there, right? We'll see in 2015 if we're talking about Run All Night grossing more in its opening weeknd than Rob Roy ($31.5) or Darkman ($33.8) did in their entirety.
Turning Wine into Water
Or is it the other way around? It is in the Bible. After all, why would anyone do the opposite unless they were a recovering alcoholic? But when it comes to whatever quality there may have been in the History Channel's Bible miniseries, it has most assuredly been watered down to give you only 138 minutes of it in the theater. Sure, they found some cut footage deemed unworthy of the time constraints of commercial television and stuck it back in, but the paying customers spent over $26 million this weekend on Son of God. They could have stayed home and ordered the full miniseries on DVD for $25 at Amazon. ($45 if they wanted the Blu-ray.)
Listing the comparisons of religious movies are pointless since few have generated the kind of serious box office heat other than the ones involving Mel Gibson, Tyler Perry or those Narnia movies where none other than Liam Neeson played the Jesus Lion. All eyes will next be on the T.D. Jakes-produced Heaven Is for Real in April. In the meantime, Son of God will surpass The Nativity Story and other faith-based films like Courageous and Fireproof faster than Kirk Cameron can spout the hateful crazy. And this is coming from both a Catholic school attendee and former altar boy. So, before you throw the first stone and all... at least consider seeing The Lego Movie before something you can already see at home.
How Is Sony Doing?
We ask because we care. Also because it has the bulk of the films in the top 10 and none of them are doing great, even with inflated ticket prices. Pompeii is a certifiable disaster that may not hit $25 million here in the states. If that's the case it is going to need about another $167 million overseas to stay out of the red. RoboCop (which is days away from outgrossing Paul Verhoeven's 1987 masterpiece) has done very well overseas but still needs about another $125 million to break even. George Clooney's The Monuments Men keeps chugging along with over $65 million at home, but must break $100 million overseas for the big "toldya so" to Daniel Loeb. Only About Last Night (which HAS surpassed the gross of the 1986 original) is close to breaking even. Sony may end up needing a little piece of Heaven, when the T.D. Jakes film opens the week before Easter.
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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