Box Office Report: 'Chappie' Wins Light Weekend; 'American Sniper' Now Highest Grossing Movie of 2014

Box Office Report: 'Chappie' Wins Light Weekend; 'American Sniper' Now Highest Grossing Movie of 2014

Mar 09, 2015

Here's your estimated 3-day box office returns (new releases bolded):

1. Chappie - $13.3 million ($13.3 million total)

2. Focus - $10.0 million ($34.5 million total)

3. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - $8.6 million ($8.6 million total)

4. Kingsman: The Secret Service - $8.3 million ($98.0 million total)

5. The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water - $7.0 million ($148.9 million total)

6. Fifty Shades of Grey - $5.6 million ($156.4 million total)

7. McFarland USA - $5.3 million ($29.4 million total)

8. The Lazarus Effect - $5.1 million ($17.4 million total)

9. The Duff - $4.85 million ($26.1 million total)

10. Unfinished Business - $4.8 million ($4.8 million total)

The Big Stories

A light weekend at the box office was fueled by the news that American Sniper -- while no longer in the top ten for the first time in weeks -- has officially become the highest-grossing movie of 2014, pushing past The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 with $337 million (in terms of domestic grosses, not including international). A release schedule fairly dominated by R-rated movies looks to switch it up this weekend when Disney's Cinderella is poised to drop in and dominate, at least until The Divergent Series: Insurgent arrives later this month.


Third Time Is Not a Charm for Neill Blomkamp

You will find a lot of defenders out there of Neill Blomkamp. The director burst on the scene going from the guy who was to bring everyone's beloved Halo to the big screen to busting through the Oscars' biast towards sci-fi with the Best Picture-nominated District 9. 90% at Rotten Tomatoes, 81 at Metacritic. $37 million opening, $115+ million in the U.S. and $210 million worldwide... and all on a $30 million budget. Then came his eagerly awaited follow-up, Elysium. A rather surprising 68% at Rotten Tomatoes and 61 at Metacritic given the film's reputation. It opened to $29.8 million and tapped out at $93 million in the U.S. but was boosted to $286 million worldwide.

Now comes Chappie, a film which began its ad campaign as this generation's Short Circuit and ended up as, well, this generation's District 9 or Elysium. Sony screened the film late for press this time and they evidently knew what they had because the scores are significantly lower: 40 at Metacritic. 30% at Rotten Tomatoes. As for his loyal fans? Only $13.3 million at the box office. Ouch! The budget may only be $50 million (before prints and advertising) so with some international appeal it may not be an all-out disaster for him and the studio. But it's even more surprising that it was good enough to be #1 this weekend.

Here are the best returns on films that opened the first week of March.

Alice in Wonderland ($116.1), Dr. Seuss' The Lorax ($70.2), Watchmen ($55.2), 300: Rise of An Empire ($45.0), Wild Hogs ($39.6), Rango ($38.0), 10000 B.C. ($35.8), Mr. Peabody & Sherman ($32.2), Bringing Down the House ($31.1), The Pacifier ($30.5), Starsky and Hutch ($28.1), Jack the Giant Slayer ($27.2), Be Cool ($23.4), The Adjustment Bureau ($21.1), Project X (2012) ($21.0), We Were Soldiers ($20.2), The Mexican ($20.1), Hidalgo ($18.8), Analyze This ($18.3), The Hunt for Red October ($17.1), Tears of the Sun ($17.0), U.S. Marshals ($16.8), Private Parts ($14.6), College Road Trip ($13.6), Zodiac ($13.39), Brooklyn's FInest ($13.35), Chappie ($13.30), Cruel Intentions ($13.0), Jungle 2 Jungle ($12.8), 40 Days and 40 Nights ($12.2), 16 Blocks ($11.8), Up Close and Personal ($11.1)

We all remember College Road Trip, right? With Martin Lawrence and Raven-Symoné? Anybody? Well it made more than Chappie did opening weekend... in 2008 and at #2. Chappie is the worst #1 film to kickoff March since 2006 when Madea's Family Reunion made $12.6 million in its second weekend.


When Does True Detective Start?

That's probably what Vince Vaughn is asking himself as its about the only thing people are looking forward to that has the actor in it these days. His last film, 2013's Delivery Man, was the worst wide release opening for him since 1998's drama, Return to Paradise, and that was on over 2000 less screens. Despite that, Vaughn stuck with director Ken Scott and now Unfinished Business is the film that can make that claim. It is the second worst-reviewed film of Vaughn's career (14% at Rotten Tomatoes) ahead of 2009's Couples Retreat (11%), which oddly enough was the last film of his to gross over $100 million.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 grossed nearly a million more in its opening weekend and is at $11.2 million. So hope springs eternal, I guess. Vaughn's latest can at least say it opened higher than Johnny Depp and Mortdecai ($4.2 million) and Michael Mann's Blackhat ($3.9 million). But those are the only positives for the $35 million-budgeted film which many are probably simply calling "finished" at this point. Ironically enough, his next film (with Couples Retreat director Peter Billingsley) is called Term Life.


Tales of the Top Ten

The most positive story amongst the newbies this week is The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel managing $9.4 million on just 1573 screens. That's a better start than either Project Almanac or Seventh Son, each of which started in nearly 2900 theaters. The first film grossed $46.4 million and over $136 million worldwide on just a $10 million budget in 2012. The good news for Will Smith is that Focus has surpassed The Legend of Bagger Vance's $30.9 gross in the U.S. The bad news is it's unlikely to pass the next film on his all-time list as a leading man, Ali ($58.2 million). 

Matthew Vaughn's Kingsman: The Secret Service continues to do fine business and will pass $100 million in the U.S. this week. It's now over $232 million worldwide. Disney's McFarland USA may not be putting up monster numbers, but audiences are keeping it steady enough to be Kevin Costner's highest grosser as a leading draw since 2006's The Guardian. Finally, the battle continues for the year's top grosser. The Spongebob Movie picked up another $1.4 million on Fifty Shades of Grey this weekend and now the family film sits at $7.5 million behind the film for mommy and poor daddy. Is Cinderella going to be half the movie Alice In Wonderland was at the box office next week? Insurgent is going to have to outgross Divergent's $150 million to make a run at the year's title. (Fifty Shades sits at $156.) None of that will matter, though, once Furious 7 hits theaters on April 3.

- Erik Childress can be heard each week on the WGN Radio Podcast evaluating box office with Nick Digilio.

[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]


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