hfo_box office march 6 2015



~Matt Reed

This weekend gives evidence to a disturbing trend for Neill Blomkamp. He burst onto the American scene with DISTRICT 9 in 2009, followed that up with ELYSIUM in 2013 and this week sees the release of his third picture, CHAPPIE. Although production budgets have increased, box office returns have not. D9 grossed $115.6 mil against a slim $30 mil budget. ELYSIUM was budgeted at nearly four times as much, $115 mil, yet it returned just $93 mil domestic. Although CHAPPIE falls between the two at $49 mil, it looks like it will be the second of three features not to make its money back on the domestic front. It opened to just $13.3 mil, which is worse by far of any of Blomkamp’s films. Critics are also eviscerating it; “You may find yourself wanting every character in this thing to die horribly. And quickly.”, “I haven’t been as happy to see a movie end since the third “Transformers” and “Chappie” is a movie about the evolution of artificial intelligence that’s as dumb as a post. It also marks the continuing devolution of the work of director and co-writer Neill Blomkamp.” Those are just a few of many reactions to the film from top critics at Rotten Tomatoes. With the news that Blomkamp is headlining the direct sequel to James Cameron’s ALIENS, this trend has to at least give audiences pause that the franchise is in the right hands.


Speaking of trends and bombs, UNFINISHED BUSINESS starring Vince Vaughn tanked hard this weekend with a $4.8 mil opening. Not counting his indie work, this is the worst opening of Vaughn’s career. His star at least in terms of box office magic has certainly fallen since the days of DODGEBALL and WEDDING CRASHERS. He hasn’t starred in a film that has grossed more than $50 mil since COUPLES RETREAT closed with $109.2 mil in 2009. His last four comedies (DELIVERY MAN, THE INTERNSHIP, THE WATCH and THE DILEMMA) have all either disappointed or been outright bombs and this week BUSINESS joins that group.


The one bright spot among the new releases is the sequel THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL. The original was a surprise hit in 2012, grossing $136.8 mil worldwide. It was a film that had a slow rollout, opening on just 27 screens before expanding wide a month later, so comparisons between it and the sequel are difficult. That said, if the budget for SECOND is close to that of the original ($10 mil) and if audiences want to come back to familiar, safe territory, then this sequel should itself be a modest hit when all is said and done.


Short Takes: Will Smith’s FOCUS, last week’s #1 film, fell 46% and looks to struggle to make it’s $50 mil budget back. Word-of-mouth hit KINGSMAN: SECRET SERVICE continues to do fantastic box office. To date it’s grossed an amazing $248.3 mil worldwide. FIFTY SHADES OF GREY now stands at $527.7 mil worldwide so expect sequels in short order. Finally, AMERICAN SNIPER passed both GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1 to become the highest grossing domestic film released in 2014. It’s current gross now stands at $337.2 mil.


Up Next: Two films in wide release – CINDERELLA, the live action telling of the classic fairy tale directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Lilly James, Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter. The action film RUN ALL NIGHT starring Liam Neeson, Ed Harris and Vincent D’Onofrio.


Here, as always, are the weekend domestic estimates courtesy of our friends at boxofficemojo.com:

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