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Weekend Box Office: Chappie Breaks Down in Slowest Weekend of the Year

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By Chris Kavan - 03/08/15 at 10:32 PM CT

Well, March certainly came in like a lamb - which is totally fantastic for movies coming out at the end of the month as the old adage says the month with go out like a lion. But, as of right now, the first weekend of March is officially the slowest box office weekend of the year. Only one film performed above expectations, with one certified bomb and a second a major disappointment. But things look strong on the horizon with Disney and Lionsgate bringing out some big guns. But that's getting ahead - let's get on with the bloodbath.


Neill Blomkamp has had a relatively short career, but things have been on a downward slide since breaking out with District 9 back in 2009. Chappie may have the number one spot this weekend, but it only opened to a disappointing $13.3 million - well below the opening for District 9 ($37.7 million) and Elysium ($29.8 million). Even more disappointing is that it opened below Jupiter Ascending ($18.4 million). A few things working against it - the R rating (pretty much unwarranted in my opinion) probably hurt more than helped and critics gave it a pretty good thrashing. Audiences were a little kinder - though not by much - the "B" Cinemascore isn't glowing, but it may help it to at least a $30 million showing - though it's likely going to wind up well below its $49 million budget. Though international numbers are sure to help, this is looking like the next failure of 2015.


Last week's number one film dipped 46% and dropped to second place with $10 million. Given the mixed signals from critics and audiences, that's actually a pretty decent hold for the Will Smith/Margot Robbie crime comedy/drama. Focus has taken in $34.57 million and it looks like it will ultimately top the $50 million mark - which is, not coincidentally, also its budget. It may not be Smith's most profitable film, but maybe it will sow enough good will for his next project.


The real, lone bright spot over the weekend has to belong to the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Despite the wordy-titled sequel, the geriatric crew managed to bring in a quite respectable $8.6 million from about half as many theaters as Chappie opened to. That represents a big jump from the original, which went wide with $6.4 million (albeit from not nearly as many theaters). While an audience breakdown wasn't available - one must figure that it attracted a mostly mature crowd. They awarded it a "B+" Cinemascore and, given that older audiences tend to spread out their viewing over time, the film has a good chance of hitting $30 million itself.


The updated spy film dropped from 2nd to 4th place, but actually had its best hold so far, dropping just 30% in its fourth weekend out. The film brought in another $8.3 million and it is seriously flirting with $100 million - currently at $98 million. Ultimately, its looking like Kingsman will be able to top $115 million.


The animated family film has enjoyed a nice run on its own - it also fell two spots (3rd to 5th), losing ground by 35%. Still, SpongeBob and the gang added $7 million to the bank and will cross the $150 million mark in another day (currently it stands at $149 million). It has already spent five weeks in the top five - and though it is likely to fall out of that position next week - doubling its $74 million budget is a nice consolation.

Outside the top five: The other wide release of the week, the adult road-trip comedy Unfinished Business, landed with a resulting thud with just $4.8 million - barely enough to crack the top 10. That continues Vince Vaughn's declining box office trend - Delivery Man opened to just $7.9 million - and, in fact, is the worst opening for the actor for any film premiering in 1000 or more theaters. With Wedding Crashers well in the past, Vaughn's glory days are likewise probably well behind him - call it the Adam Sandler effect, but his movies aren't particularly well reviewed or highly regarded, and Unfinished Business is another notch on the bedpost. Critics savaged it and audiences (55 percent male and 54 percent over the age of 25) gave it just a "B-" Cinemascore. It will be lucky to top $10 million.

The other big news of the week was for American Sniper. Adding another $4.5 million, Sniper should be able to top The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 to become the highest-grossing film of 2014 with a $337.2 million total. Though the movie only opened wide in 2015 - it had a limited release in 2014 and thus still counts as opening last year. Ultimately, the film should be able to top $350 million - which would place it around 27th on the all-time (domestic) movie list.

The big movie next weekend will be Disney's Cinderella live-action release (with the short Frozen Fever opening ahead of it). Should it find the same success as Malificent, it should be the first real blockbuster of March. Also opening will be the action film Run All Night - which has Liam Neeson once again kicking all kinds of ass.


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