For the second weekend in a row, DreamWorks Animation’s “Kung
Fu Panda 3” easily topped box office charts. The animated sequel
added $21 million to its $69 million domestic haul.
The film is playing particularly well in China, where it is
being distributed by Oriental DreamWorks, a $330-million
East-West joint venture. It crossed the $100 million mark in the
People’s Republic this weekend after opening day-and-date in the
U.S. and China on Jan. 29.
Universal’s “Hail, Caesar!,” a sendup of the Hollywood studio
system from the Coen brothers, fared best among the new
entrants, though that’s grading on a generous curve. It picked
up a mediocre $11.4 million for a second place finish.
A C-minus CinemaScore could spell trouble for the film’s
long-term prospects, signaling the satire is divisive with
Universal distribution chief Nicholas Carpou said that
CinemaScore may not capture the brothers’ fan base, noting that
previous films from the pair, such as “The Ladykillers” (C
CinemaScore) and “Intolerable Cruelty” (C+) have scored poorly,
but showed some endurance. The pair’s biggest hit, “True Grit,”
earned a B+ CinemaScore.
“There are some films that really defy polling in a general
sense,” said Carpou. “The Coen brothers are legitimate auteur
filmmakers and they have a loyal fan base that is coming out to
see this movie.”
“Hail, Caesar!” stars Josh Brolin, Channing Tatum, George
Clooney and Scarlett Johansson and cost $22 million to produce.
Universal distributed the film across 2,222 locations. The
opening weekend crowd was 52% male, 69% over the age of 35 and
The weekend was particularly hostile for the other films
elbowing into theaters. “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” a
hybrid of Jane Austen’s romances and “The Walking Dead,” earned
a wan $5.2 million from 2,931 locations. It’s another sign that
Seth Grahame-Smith, the author of the book that inspired the
movie, has had trouble translating his genre-mashing style to
the big screen.
Grahame-Smith’s “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” also struggled
at the box office when it was released in 2012. Sony and Screen
Gems distributed the film, while Cross Creek fully financed the
$28 million production.
The film skewed female, with women making up 58% of ticket
buyers and was seen as a counter-programming play against the
"We would have liked to have done more,” said Rory Bruer, Sony’s
distribution chief. “It’s a movie that screened well and that we
all really liked a lot. It’s clever and smart and fun.”
[to top of second column]
“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” has been in the works for years,
with directors such as David O. Russell and stars such as Natalie
Portman falling into and out of the project at various stages in its
development. The cast that finally shepherded the film to screens
includes Lily James, Matt Smith, Sam Riley and Jack Huston, with
Burr Steers (“Igby Goes Down”) directing from a script he wrote.
Lionsgate’s “The Choice” rounded out the top five, mustering a
feeble $6.1 million from 2,631 North American theaters. The story of
a veteran (Benjamin Walker) who falls in love with his neighbor
(Teresa Palmer) comes from the pen of romance novelist Nicholas
Sparks. Given the tepid reception, it seems unlikely to rival the
popularity of previous Sparks adaptations such as “Dear John” or
“The Notebook,” both of which made more than $80 million stateside.
Lionsgate acquired the film for $10 million.
Two holdovers secured third and fourth place on the charts — “The
Revenant” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The Leonardo Dicaprio
survivalist drama picked up $7.1 million to bring its domestic total
to $149.7 million. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” nabbed $6.9
million pushing its North American haul to a godly $906 million.
On Saturday, the space opera became only the third film in history
along with “Avatar” and “Titanic” to cross $2 billion globally.
In limited release, the Weinstein Company debuted the Ethan Hawke
and Emma Watson psychological thriller “Regression” in 100 theaters
where it eked out $31,000 for a dismal $310 per-screen average.
Look for ticket sales to flatline on Sunday as Americans gather
around their television sets to watch the Denver Broncos take on the
Carolina Panthers. Historically, Super Bowl weekend is a down one
for the industry — last year football’s biggest game caused ticket
sales to drop 57% from the previous weekend. But the match-ups also
provide a marketing bonanza for the movie business, with studios
preparing to tease upcoming blockbusters such as “Alice Through the
Looking Glass” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the
Shadows” during this year’s broadcast.
“It’s like an annuity,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media
analyst at comScore. “Super Bowl may take a bite out of the box
office, but it allows Hollywood to put their trailers on a worldwide
stage in a way that will pay off later.”
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