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Weekend Box Office: Focus On Top with Minor Victory

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By Chris Kavan - 03/01/15 at 08:11 PM CT

It was a bit of a quiet weekend at the box office. Though some movies benefited from an Oscar bump, the top earners were off about 14% from the same time period last year - and no film could muster up a $20 million-plus total. That being said, things look brighter on the horizon and, overall, 2015 is up 8% compared to last year - and that gap should hopefully only widen as the year goes on. But enough about the future - here's what this weekend brought:


Will Smith has been coming off a string of high-profile letdowns - Focus was never supposed to be a blockbuster, but even so, it had a somewhat disappointing debut. While it took first place, the film could only offer up a $19.1 million opening - a bit less than the $21-$23 million many were predicting. That is on the low end for Smith, though it did at least top Seven Pounds' $14.9 million opening as well as equal the opening for directors Glenn Ficarra, John Requa Crazy, Stupid, Love. Focus will most likely earn back its $50.1 million budget - probably topping off at around $60 million - but it will need some international help to cover the marketing effort and be profitable. The audience was 53% female and 88% over 25. They awarded it an unremarkable "B" Cinemascore, so word-of-mouth isn't likely to be much of a draw.


Once again in the second-place spot (dipping 36%) was Kingsman: The Secret Service. The slick action spy film took in an estimated $11.75 million, helping the film to a new total of $85.7 million (bumping it over its $81 million budget). With some continued strong numbers, Kingsman is looking at a total above the $100 million mark before it ends its run.


Holding on to the third-place spot for another week was the animated SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. Adding a cool $11.2 million to its total, the film now stands at $140.3 million. It looks like the film will have no issue crossing the $150 million mark and should be able to wind up at least around $165 million before it leaves theaters.


After topping the previous two weeks, Fifty Shades of Grey took another 51% tumble and dropped to fourth place in its third weekend. With the good will likely over for the steamy romance, it took in $10.9 million for a new total of $147.7 million. It will also probably finish in the $165 million range, but the big news for this film continues to be the stunning international numbers it is bringing in. The $338.4 million it has brought in now makes it Universal Picture's highest-grossing international R-rated film of all time - topping Ted ($330 million). It only has two territories left to open in - but it will top $500 million total (domestic and international) next week - not bad for a $40 million investment.


The week's other wide release also fell short of modest expectations. The horror film, The Lazarus Effect opened with $10.6 million - with many expecting at least an opening in the $12 to $14 million range. That is on the low end for Blumhouse - but at least it topped Dark Skies ($8.3 million), though it was a bit lower than Oculus ($12 million). Still, the rule of thumb is low in, high out - and at just $3.3 million, there was not much risk in releasing this one. Still, The Lazarus Effect, being horror, will likely also be mostly front-loaded - so expect this one to top out at around $25 million. The audience was mostly divided between male and female and was 60% under 25. It was awarded a "C-" Cinemascore - a death knell for most films, but standard for horror.

Outside the top five: The big news following the Academy Awards is how the winners do at the box office. The big winner this round is Still Alice. Coming off Julianne Moore's Best Actress win, the Alzheimer drama added 553 theaters to its count and jumped 24.4% and breaking into the top 10 in 9th place with $2.7 million. That gives the film a new total of $12 million - and it will likely be able to top Whiplash and Foxcatcher in the next few weeks.

The night's biggest winner, Birdman, also took advantage of the situation - adding a whopping 806 theaters and jumping 125% in the process. It made nearly $2 million and jumped from 15th to 12th place with a new total of $40.2 million - not quite as much as 2011 Best Picture The Artist ($44.7 million), though it still has room to catch up.

Next week's offerings include Neill Blomkamp's latest, the robot action/thriller Chappie, the road-trip comedy Unfinished Business and the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - looking once again to capture the attention of an older audience.


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