“Insurgent” Tops Box Office With $54 Million!

The Divergent Series: Insurgent opened in first place at the North American box office this weekend with an estimated $54 million, which was just a bit behind the $54.6 million debut of its predecessor Divergent.

Internationally, Insurgent took in an additional $47 million for a worldwide total of $101 million. It should be noted that Insurgent cost more to produce than Divergent ($110 million to $90 million) and, unlike Divergent, was released in the higher-priced 3D format.

Still, Insurgent saw an uptick in overseas ticket sales over Divergent as Veronica Roth’s book series has increased in popularity abroad in the past year.

Meanwhile, The Gunman — Sean Penn’s stab at a Taken-style action flick — opened in fourth place with a wimpy $5 million. Faith-based film Do You Believe? debuted in sixth place with an estimated $4 million.

Here are the weekend estimates via Rentrak:

1. The Divergent Series: Insurgent $54 million

2. Cinderella $34.5 million

3. Run All Night $5.1 million

4. The Gunman $5 million

5. Kingsman: The Secret Service $4.6 million

6. Do You Believe? $4 million

7. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel $3.5 million

8. Focus $3.3 million

9. Chappie $2.7 million

10. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water $2.4 million

Box Office: ‘Chappie’ Stumbles, ‘Unfinished Business’ Bombs!

Neill Blomkamp’s “Chappie” and “Unfinished Business” with Vince Vaughn added up to a weekend to forget at the U.S. box office.

Overall ticket sales plunged as “Chappie,” a science-fiction adventure about a sentient robot, topped charts with a weak $13.3 million from 3,201 locations. Going into the weekend, Sony Pictures was aiming for a debut of roughly $15 million and some analysts expected the film could hit $20 million. Reviews were tepid, and the picture is the latest in a long line of R-rated new releases such as “Fifty Shades of Grey” and “Focus,” which may have hurt it with moviegoers looking for something that appeals to kids as well as adults.

“There’s been a glut of R-rated movies starting from the first of the year,” said Rory Bruer, Sony’s worldwide distribution chief. “I think there’s some R-rated fatigue.”

The odds may have been against “Chappie” from its inception. Original science-fiction films have had a rocky go of it at the box office of late, with “Seventh Son,” “Jupiter Ascending” and “Project Almanac” all crashing on the shoals of audience indifference. Blomkamp may be on safer ground with his next project, a new installment in the “Alien” franchise.

“Chappie” was produced for $49 million, and Sony isn’t ready to concede defeat on the picture just yet, predicting it could make a profit when foreign markets are taken into account. Bruer notes that Blomkamp’s previous films, “District 9″ and “Elysium,” were able to stick around for a long time after their debuts.

“The movie plays well, and the uniqueness of the characters is going to drive a conversation that I do believe will help the film in the coming weeks,” he said.

It was a dispiriting weekend overall for the business, with ticket sales down roughly 35% from the year-ago period – a weekend that saw the debuts of “300: Rise of an Empire” and “Mr. Peabody and Sherman.” That also took a chunk out of the substantial lead that the exhibition industry had maintained over 2014’s first quarter numbers. Ticket sales are now up roughly 5% over the previous year’s, but two weeks ago they topped them by roughly 10%.

“The market has been so strong lately, I’m not surprised to see such a big down weekend,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “Things have to slow down at some point.”

“Chappie” fared better than “Unfinished Business,” another R-rated whiff. The business trip comedy eked out a gloomy $4.8 million across 2,777 locations. It ranks as the lowest debut of Vaughn’s career, raising serious questions about his appeal. The “Wedding Crashers” star has headlined an array of flops over the past four years, including “The Dilemma,” “Delivery Man,” “The Internship” and “The Watch.” A lot is riding on the second season of “True Detective” to return Vaughn to audiences’ good graces.

Twentieth Century Fox distributed the $35 million film, which New Regency financed. The opening crowd for “Unfinished Business” was 55% male and 54% over the age of 25.

“Sometimes this happens where a film doesn’t connect with an audience,” said Spencer Klein, executive vice president of theatrical distribution at Fox. “Fortunately, this hasn’t happened too often to us.”

There was one diamond in the crop of dinged-up new releases — “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” The comic tale of retirees making new lives for themselves in India bowed to a sterling $8.6 million across 1,573 locations. Fox Searchlight is distributing the comedy which was co-produced by Participant Media and cost a mere $10 million to produce.

“This audience of moviegoers wants to see something different, and there hasn’t been much out there for them,” said Frank Rodriguez, senior vice president of distribution at Fox. “This market of specialty crowds and more mature audiences has been underserved.”

“The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” will add approximately 300 screens to its current crop of venues next weekend, Rodriguez predicted. The first picture stuck around for months, eventually making $46.4 million, but this film had a wider debut and should be more front-loaded. The film played older and female, with more than 65% of the crowd comprised of women and the same percentage over the age of 50.

“Our core audience came out this weekend, but it’s comprised of moviegoers who don’t always rush out immediately,” said Rodriguez. “We think this is the kind of film that could stick around.”

Last week’s champ, the Will Smith heist picture “Focus,” had to settle for runner-up status, taking second place on the charts with $10 million. That brings the film’s take to $34.6 million.

Among holdovers, “Kingsman: The Secret Service” took in $8.3 million, pushing its take to $98 million, while “Fifty Shades of Grey” added $5.6 million to its $156.4 million haul. “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” continued to benefit from being one of the only family-friendly releases in the market, picking up $7 million and driving the picture to $149 million at the Stateside box office.

At the arthouse, Sony Pictures premiered the spin-doctor documentary “Merchants of Doubt” on four screens where it earned $20,327, while “The Hunting Ground,” a look at sexual violence on college campuses, added $8,936 from two screens to its $45,822 gross.

Roadside Attractions and Black Label Media’s critically adored thriller “71” capitalized on good reviews, earning $70,590 after expanding from four to 16 screens in New York and Los Angeles.

Next weekend brings Disney’s live-action version of “Cinderella” and with it a chance at box office redemption.

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‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ opened at No. 1 Heating Up International Box Office With Record $158 Million Debut!

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In addition to being at the top of the North American box office, Fifty Shades of Grey has opened at No. 1 in 56 of the 57 territories where it’s debuted.

The erotic drama, which began rolling out internationally on Wednesday, is on its way to setting foreign box office records.

It grossed $38 million on Friday for an early total of $66 million. The film is on track for an international weekend take of $158.3 million over the three-day holiday, which would make it Universal’s second highest opening weekend of all time, just behind “Fast & Furious 6” ($160.3 million). This puts it on track for a global debut of $234 million.

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This also means that the film is dominating 2003’s “The Matrix Revolutions” ($117 million) for the highest-grossing international opening weekend ever for an R-rated movie.

In North America, the movie earned $30.2 million on Friday and is poised to reel in $76 million over Valentine’s Day and the Presidents Day weekend.

Aside from giving Universal its largest opening day of all time in 25 foreign markets, “Fifty Shades” also saw the biggest opening day for an R-rated film in 34 territories.

The U.K. and Ireland led the pack with $7.1 million in a single day, the biggest opening day ever in February as well as the biggest opening day for an 18-rated film.

“Fifty Shades” brought in $5.5 million in Germany for the biggest February opening day of all time; $4.9 million in France; $4.6 million in Russia, where it also had the biggest non-franchise opening day and best opening day for a 16+ or 18+ film; and $4 million in Italy, where it set yer another R-rated opening day record.

The pic, starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, is adapted from E.L. James’ romance novel trilogy, which was a global hit, selling more than 100 million copies worldwide after being translated into 52 languages.

The pic will launch in five more territories, including Korea and the United Arab Emirates, by March 5.

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Box Office: Jupiter Ascending, Seventh Son Bombing in Debuts

Box Office: Jupiter Ascending, Seventh Son

It’s not often that Hollywood releases two major theatrical bombs on the same weekend. But that’s what happened when “Jupiter Ascending” and “Seventh Son” both crashed in U.S. theaters on Friday.

Warner Bros.’ “Jupiter Ascending,” starring Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis, is quickly falling in box office estimates to a skimpy $18 million opening. With a budget of $175 million, the Wachowskis’ sci-fi tentpole could lose tens of millions barring a dramatic turnaround overseas.

The forecast for Universal and Legendary’s long-delayed “Seventh Son,” starring Jeff Bridges, isn’t much brighter. The medieval fantasy tentpole has a projected loss of $85 million, as Varietyexclusively reported this week, despite earning $82 million at the international box office. It’s on track for only $6.6 million in its U.S. debut.

Neither of the B.O. casualties are a shock — both pics were long-delayed due to poor tracking, and Paramount’s “The Spongebob Movie,” which is soaking up $53 million this weekend, was originally projected to win the weekend. Still, the lousy ticket sales are a black eye for investors and filmmakers.

Andy and Lana Wachowski, masterminds of “The Matrix,” have yet to find commercial or critical success since their Keanu Reeves trilogy. Their previous two efforts, “Cloud Atlas” and “Speed Racer,” made a combined $67 million domestically.

The stylish filmmakers assumed that heartthrob Channing Tatum could attract more younger viewers to “Jupiter Ascending.” But Tatum is barely recognizable in the 3D  film, looking more like an elf than a sexy bounty hunter.

The sci-fi space opera earned a B- Cinemascore from moviegoers and a not-so-fresh 22% rating on RottenTomatoes.

WB had originally scheduled “Jupiter” for a prime summer release in July 2014 before pulling the plug six weeks prior to “complete special effects,” but buzz on the film was negative.

Jeff Bridges, meanwhile, is experiencing his own financial follies in recent years. The “Seventh Son” actor’s last two wide releases, “R.I.P.D.” and “The Giver,” both disappointed at the box office.

“Seventh Son,” directed by Sergei Bodrov, began filming in March 2012 and has had four different release dates. Co-starring Julianne Moore and Ben Barnes, the movie is based on Joseph Delaney’s literary series “The Spook’s Apprentice,” about a young hero with magical abilities.

Next week, Universal’s “Fifty Shades of Grey” is expected to heat up an otherwise chilly winter at the box office. Despite Warner Bros.’ smash hit “American Sniper,” several movies have tanked domestically, including Johnny Depp’s “Mortdecai” and Michael Mann’s “Blackhat,” starring Chris Hemsworth.

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Sourcesstarring Julianne Moore and Ben Barnes, the movie is based on Joseph Delaney’s literary series “The Spook’s Apprentice,” about a young hero with magical abilities.

Next week, Universal’s “Fifty Shades of Grey” is expected to heat up an otherwise chilly winter at the box office. Despite Warner Bros.’ smash hit “American Sniper,” several movies have tanked domestically, including Johnny Depp’s “Mortdecai” and Michael Mann’s “Blackhat,” starring Chris Hemsworth.