Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Liam Neeson Soars to the Top Spot at the Box Office

Scott looks at a weekend where The LEGO Movie was finally toppled from its lofty number one position at the box office.

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This weekend there was a lot of speculation on just how much the church going audience would be able to assist in the performance of Son of God, a movie that was constructed from The Bible mini-series that aired in 2013 on The History Channel. Also in question was Non-Stop, an airline action thriller starring Liam Neeson. After three weeks at number one, it was widely believed that one of these two would be able to knock The LEGO Movie out of the way and establish a new weekend champion.

As it turns out, that new victor was Neeson, who was able to bring in the spoils of $28 million this weekend at the box office. While last weekend Kevin Costner’s action movie 3 Days to Kill brought in an average of $4,263 per theatre, Liam stepped up to the plate and showed him how it is done by bringing Non-Stop to a very strong theatre average of $9,345.

It was the eleventh best opening weekend for the Irish actor who has now established himself as a consistent draw with action movies. While Son of God performed much better in late Thursday early screenings, Non-Stop quickly took the lead on Friday by taking in $10 million compared to Son of God’s $6.4 million. The audience composition was an older crowd, with an estimated 65% of movie goers being over the age of 25.

Son of God was able to nab second place this weekend by bringing in $22.4 million, edging The LEGO Movie by just shy of two million dollars. Going into the weekend, predicting its performance was an incredibly difficult task as it was possible it could be either gobbled up or spat out by the audience. My initial instinct was to predict $20 million, but over thinking the situation turned out to be my enemy as I lowered my expectations to $17 million. A number of churches had purchased advanced tickets and generated an estimated $4.5 million before the movie even started.

With poor critical reception (25% on Rotten Tomatoes) the film still performed better than almost everyone expect, partly due to being able to hold well throughout the entire weekend, dropping only 27% on Sunday from Saturday’s numbers. How well the film will hold up over the coming weeks will be hard to predict, but I could see it dropping around 55-60% next weekend.

Another movie that was a ‘cut and paste’ film was the R-rated version of Anchorman 2, which marketed itself on being R-rated (something that I had doubted was needed) as well as adding 763 new jokes. I had wondered why people would want to pay full admission to see a movie that was cobbled together and extended with jokes that were not deemed good enough or appropriate for the original, and it appears that movie goers may have felt the same thing. The movie, which was released in 1,317 theatres only averaged $1,032 per theatre, a number that does not represent a lot of audience interest in this endeavour. It was, however, received better than when This is the End took a second run in theatres at the end of the summer and was only able to get an average of $880 per theatre. It really should have just been a bonus feature on DVD/Blue Ray.

Russia’s IMAX film Stalingrad was unable to lure out North American audiences this weekend. While it was the most profitable film in Russia last year, the special effects 3D experience was not what audiences on this side of the pond were looking for. It was screened in 308 IMAX locations and generated $500,000, with a per theatre average of $1,659. While that number is not outstanding, it can boast that it was able to best the legend of news, Ron Burgandy.

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