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Weekend Box Office: Exodus Tops Mockingjay but is Less Than a Kingly Opening

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By Chris Kavan - 12/14/14 at 10:59 PM CT

If Hollywood was counting on a strong December to counter a weaker summer, those hopes were pretty much dashed over the weekend. Though The Hobbit is sure to draw in a crowed, and the Christmas release schedule is packed, this weekend was another disappointment as the top 12 could only muster $77.7 million - ranking up there with the slowest weekends of the year. It's going to take a miracle to salvage the year - and even with a strong lineup, I doubt things are going to get much better from here on out.


The year's second big biblical epic opened in top spot with $24.5 million but the result was far less kingly than one would have hoped. The movie took a one-two punch - both critics (27% on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences (a tepid "B-" Cinemascore) couldn't warm up to Ridley Scott's take on the story of Moses and Ramses. It was much less than the $43.7 million Noah brought in back in March. It was roughly on par with the based-on-a-TV mini series Son of God and compared to past releases, Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader ($24 million) and Golden Compass ($25.8 million) both of which were "franchise" films that did so poorly, plans for future films were dropped. It doesn't help Exodus is operating on a $140 million budget. At this point, the film is likely to be able to cross the $75 million mark but should fall well short of $100 million. It will have to rely on foreign totals to break even at this point. The film's audience was 54% male and 65% over 25. 3D screens accounted for about 44% of its grosses - a bit higher than average for a film of its kind.


After taking the top spot over the last two weekends, Mockingjay had to settle for runner-up this time with a $13.2 million total (off 40%). That gives the film a new total of $277.4 million. Although it trailed Catching Fire by a wide margin, it caught back up - nearly equaling the $13.7 million Catching Fire had in its third weekend. And while the low opening may have dampened expectations, if it follows the pattern of Catching Fire, Mockingjay will now eclipse Guardians of the Galaxy to become the year's top-grossing movie. We'll see how it holds up against The Hobbit this coming weekend, but chances are it is going to wind up with nearly $340 million before it exits theaters.


Also dipping a spot from last weekend, Penguins of Madacascar wound up taking in $7.3 million - a 33% drop - for a new total of $58.8 million. Penguins is now trailing Rise of the Guardians through the same point in its run by $3 million and has pretty much zero chance to catch up. Family audiences will have plenty to look forward to over Christmas, which is bad news for Penguins - which is going to be lucky enough to cross $75 million, let alone go much higher than that.


Opening at a more modest 979 theaters (compared to over 3500 for Exodus), Chris Rock's latest film, Top Five, opened to a $7.2 million debut. That is better than Rock's previous I Think I Love My Wife, which had just a $5.7 million opening from twice as many theaters. The true test for Top Five with be in the coming weeks, as the result should mean the movie will see some kind of expansion, and that is really going to determine where the movie ultimately winds up in terms of total grosses. If it can reach the $40 million mark that would be an excellent result for the well-cast comedy.


The other animated film in theaters dropped from 4th to 5th place with a $6.14 total. That brings Big Hero 6 up to $185.3 million and by next week it should be able to eclipse the total of Wreck-It Ralph ($189.4 million) on its way to what is still looking to wind up around the $200 million total.

Outside the top five: Inherent Vice, the latest film from Paul Thomas Anderson, opened in limited release in five theaters to the tune of $330,000. While that result is lower than Anderson's previous openings, it was still a $66,000 per-theater-average - among the top five of the year. Expect this one to continue to expand.

Other limited release films benefited from some Golden Globes love. The Theory of Everything dipped a very light 4.6% and wound up in 9ths place with $2.5 million and is now playing in over 1200 theaters. It has so far amassed an impressive $17.1 million total. Wild added 95 theaters to its count (116 total) and broke into the top 10 with $1.55 million for a new total of $2.4 million. Birdman dropped 132 theaters but still managed to gain 15.2% over last weekend (again, some awards attention helped) and added $1.32 million itself, raising its total to $20.8 million. Finally, The Imitation Game added 17 theaters (for a total of 25) to its count and brought in $875,000 - a tidy $35,000 per-theater-average. The Turing biopic has taken in $2 million so far.

Next week The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies should liven things up (and take away the IMAX screens from Interstellar). Also opening is the Annie remake (which has been leaked leading to some not-so-pleasant reactions) and one of the final films from Robin Williams, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. Action fans and families will drive the box office - which should be one of the biggest of the year after a few disappointing post-Thanksgiving results.


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