Box Office: Exodus Underwhelms In #1 Debut; The Hobbit With $117 Million Overseas

A Welsh, an Aussie and a Sigourney – oh and nobody f*cks with the Jesus.

It looks to have been a yawner of a weekend for theatergoers. The only options were to see a movie that opened a week or more ago or take a chance and either see something with “Gods” in the title or something horribly mistitled Top Five. Actually, I stand corrected. The Golden Globe Award nominations could have enticed viewers to see a film with awards potential (read: period drama, biopic, adapted work, based on a true story). And it seemed to work for a few films near the bottom of the top 10.

But let’s start with the top. Mired with allegations of being racist in terms of casting decisions made, Ridley Scott’s $140 million biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings opened on more than 3500 screens to become the top moneyearner for the weekend with $24.5 million. Not a great figure, but apparently the film played well with the Latino population for whatever reason. Following on the heels of last year’s Ridley Scott disaster The Counselor, the filmmaker is on the decline in terms of earning potential for studios. Next year he has The Martian, based on Andy Weir’s best-selling novel, starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, and Chiwetel Ejifor – an impressive ensemble on paper but so was The Counselor and the highlight of that was either Brad Pitt’s curtain call or Cameron Diaz making out with a car.

Getting dropped to second place after sitting atop the box office for three consecutive weeks was The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1. With a stout $277 million in the U.S. (and a combined $611 million worldwide), the underwhelming set-up to the grand finale in the Hunger Games trilogy is well behind the first two films – both of which grossed over $400 million in the U.S. alone. Still, people who haven’t read the novels will be sheep and venture out to see how the story ends. It will continue to feed Lionsgate and set the studio up for years to come.

In the battle of the family dollar, Penguins of Madagascar beat Big Hero 6 by nearly $1.2 million on account that Baymax has been treating audiences for twice as many weeks as those looking-like-they-are-always-in-tuxedo penguins. Twentieth Century Fox and DreamWorks Animation execs have to be disappointed that the Madagascar spin-off has only made $58.8 million in the U.S. after three weeks. It will need strong numbers overseas to be considered a hit. Nevertheless, mark my words: Universal’s Despicable Me spin-off Minions will be a monster hit in summer 2015.

The best new semi-wide release of the weekend was Top Five. Written, directed and starring Chris Rock, the semi-autobiographical comedy played on 979 screens and made $7.2 million. With solid reviews from a number of critics giving it at least three stars, the comedy is very topical in its depiction of a stand-up comedian who became a hit movie star, but now wants to be taken seriously for a change. I feel it is the movie that Judd Apatow wanted to make with Funny People, but his story direction was all wrong. And it has some happy accidents in terms of jokes that are levied. This includes comments about chokeholds and Bill Cosby.

As the sequels to Horrible Bosses and Dumb and Dumber make their ways down the top 10, coming up strong at the bottom are Focus Features’ The Theory of Everything and Fox Searchlight’s Wild. Both made strong waves with Golden Globes nominations so it is not unexpected to see them in the top 10. The Stephen Hawking biopic (Everything) was already in the top ten, and though it dropped from seventh to ninth place, it increased its theater count and only had a minimal drop in attendance. Wild starring Reese Witherspoon increased its theater screen count from 21 to 116. As a result it had the best per-screen average of any feature in the top ten with $13,362. It finished the weekend with an estimated $1.55 million.

In limited release, The Weinstein Company’s Oscar hopeful The Imitation Game expanded from 8 to 25 screens and made a cool $875k. Warner Bros. Pictures quietly debuted Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice on five screens and had an impressive per-screen average of $66,000 as it ended the weekend with $330k.

This upcoming weekend it is all about The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and if it can build upon the $117 million it has made overseas already. What do you estimate the opening will be? $40M to $50M, or $50+ million?

Full Top 10 below.

01. Exodus: Gods and Kings – $24.5 Million
02. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 – $13.2 Million ($277.39M)
03. Penguins of Madagascar – $7.3 Million ($58.8M)
04. Top Five – $7.2 Million
05. Big Hero 6 – $6.1 Million ($185.3M)
06. Interstellar – $5.5 Million ($166.8M)
07. Horrible Bosses 2 – $4.63 Million ($43.6M)
08. Dumb and Dumber To – $2.75 Million ($82.1M)
09. The Theory of Everything – $2.52 Million ($17.1M)
10. Wild – $1.55 Million ($2.42M)

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