‘San Andreas’ Shakes Up the Box Office!

The earthquake disaster movie easily took the top spot at the box office, grossing an estimated $53.2 million and surpassing expectations that had predicted an opening in the $40-million range. Dwayne Johnson stars as a rescue pilot who springs into action when the San Andreas fault line ruptures and sets off cataclysmic natural disasters across the country.

The movie’s opening gives Mr. Johnson, who first came to fame as professional wrestler “The Rock,” his best debut as a solo star. It is his second hit of the summer after “Furious 7.”

The performance of “San Andreas” shows he is a “four-quadrant, bigger-than-life movie star,” said Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution at the Time Warner Inc.-owned studio.

Warner Bros.’s New Line label joined with Village Roadshow Pictures on the movie, which cost about $110 million to make.

Given the movie’s graphic destruction of Los Angeles and San Francisco, some industry observers wondered if “San Andreas” would hit too close to home for California audiences who live in fear of “the big one.” But Mr. Fellman said those “naysayers” were proven wrong: 19 of the movie’s top 20 grossing theaters were on the West Coast.

International audiences have been particularly drawn to disaster movies in the past. Recent apocalyptic epics like “2012” and “Battle: Los Angeles” overperformed in overseas markets. “San Andreas” appears to be following suit, grossing $60 million overseas this weekend. So far, it has opened in 60 markets that typically account for about half the international box office.

The weekend’s other new wide release, “Aloha,” starring Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone, barely got a chance to say hello. The Cameron Crowe movie from Sony Corp.’s Sony Pictures Entertainment opened in sixth place with a weak $10 million. Mr. Cooper stars as a defense contractor working on a weapons satellite program who falls for an Air Force pilot played by Ms. Stone.

“Aloha” fell behind a quartet of holdovers—“Pitch Perfect 2,” “Tomorrowland,” “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Of those four, “Tomorrowland” appears to be falling off the map fastest—the George Clooney fantasy from Walt Disney Co. fell 58% in its second week. “Aloha” has been hit with bad buzz since last year, when leaked emails from Sony executives showed some of the studio’s top brass criticizing the movie.

Neither “San Andreas” nor “Aloha” got much love from critics; the latter was hit with particularly scathing reviews. Audiences, however, gave “San Andreas” a strong “A-” grade, according to the market research firm CinemaScore. “Aloha” received a “B-.”

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“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: 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.

Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent becomes the highest grossing film sold on one star’s name!

It was only a few months ago that analysts had, foolishly it would seem, branded Disney’s live-action adventure ‘Maleficent’ as a flop, and that was even before it had been released in cinemas.

However, after a strong opening and consistent debut week and beyond, the stattos were left scratching their heads at the impressive $697 million it has made to date, from a $180 million budget. But what’s more impressive is that ‘Maleficent’ was, until Michael Bay’s ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’, the highest grossing non-superhero film of 2014, which was a heck of an achievement, considering it was predicted to flop upon its end of May release. Impressively, ‘Maleficent’ can now boast as being the highest-grossing film sold on a single movie star’s name. And what does that mean?

Well, it basically means films that were marketed with a single name on the poster and its advertising material. Angelina Jolie’s name solely features on the posters, which qualifies the film. It has proven to be a big hit across the globe and appears to have captured the imaginations of audiences in far greater numbers than anyone ever thought it would.

Top 5 Movies sold on a single star’s name:

1. Angelina Jolie – Maleficent – 697.2
2. Tom Cruise – Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol – 694.7
3. Tom Hanks – Forrest Gump – 677.4
4. Bruce Willis – The Sixth Sense – 672.8
5. Will Smith – Hancock – 624.4

Box Office: ‘After Earth’ crashes, marks Will Smith’s worst summer opening in 20 years!

After

Ever since Independence Day‘s $50.2 million debut on July 4th weekend in 1996, Will Smith has been the undisputed king of the summer box office. He’s led films like Men In BlackBad Boys III, Robot; and Hancock to massive grosses — both domestically and around the world.

But his latest effort, After Earth, landed with a major thud on opening weekend, grossing just $27 million (distributor Sony told outlets it was expecting $35 million before the weekend) and opening in third place with a tepid “B” CinemaScore. The $130 million M. Night Shyamalan-directed sci-fi film, based on an original story idea by Will Smith himself, also starred the A-lister’s son, Jaden. The father/son duo previously found success with 2006′s The Pursuit of Happyness, which earned $163.6 million, but this time around, the casting gimmick wasn’t enough to get audiences into the door.

After Earth‘s opening weekend was Smith’s lowest summer debut since his first wide release, Made In America, which bowed with $11.8 million in 1993. Discouragingly, After Earth opened with even less than Smith’s oft-ridiculed Wild Wild West, which wrangled $27.8 million in its opening weekend in 1999.

So what went wrong? Well, M. Night Shyamalan’s name certainly repelled many potential viewers. The director has lost credibility with audiences after films like Lady In The WaterThe Happening, and The Last Airbender, and Sony wisely kept his name out of all marketing materials. Still, film buffs (and anyone that read the scathing reviews) weren’t fooled. The blame can’t lie solely with the director, though, especially at a time when people seem to feel little affection for the Smith family. Between accusations of Hollywood nepotism, backlash against eyebrow-raising interviews, and lingering suspicions about their involvement with Scientology, Will, Jaden, and the rest of the gang seem to be in a bit of a public opinion rut.

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Whatever the reason for After Earth‘s domestic under-performance, Sony is hoping that international grosses can make up lost ground. And that certainly could happen since Will Smith’s film’s often gross more overseas than they do in America. Last year, Men In Black 3took in $179 million domestically and $445 million internationally, and time will tell whetherAfter Earth enjoys a similar fate.

But there were other movies at the box office this weekend, too. Let’s talk about those!

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Fast & Furious 6 topped the chart for a second time, dropping by a hefty 65 percent to $34.5 million. While that’s the largest-ever second weekend drop for a Fast film, the well-reviewed sequel has already earned $170.4 million in just ten days, making it the second-highest grossing entry in the franchise behind Fast Five‘s $209 million haul. Worldwide, Fast & Furious 6 (or is it just Furious 6?) has earned $480.1 million, and it should race past the $600 million mark with ease. Universal spent about $160 million on the film. (Fun fact: betweenFast & Furious 6Pain & GainG.I. Joe: Retaliation, and Snitch, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has had a film in the Top 10 every weekend since February 22.)

The surprise of the weekend was Summit’s magician thriller Now You See Me, which worked box office magic on its opening weekend and earned $28.1 million from 2,925 theaters — good for second place. Expectations for the $80 million thriller, which stars Jesse Eisenberg, Morgan Freeman, Isla Fisher, and Mark Ruffalo, were in the $20 million-range, but business proved bouyant. Audiences, which were 51 percent female and 52 percent under 30, issued the film an enthusiastic “A-” CinemaScore grade, which should help the action entry thrive in coming weeks.

Two holdovers rounded out the Top 5. Star Trek Into Darkness dropped by a distressing 56 percent to $16.4 million in its third weekend, lifting its total to $181.2 million. The $190 million sequel is now officially lagging behind 2009′s Star Trek, which had earned $184.5 million at the same point in its run. Most sequels to to well-received blockbusters get a big boost in business, but Darkness hasn’t been so lucky. In fifth, Fox’s animated film Epic fell 51 percent to about $16.4 million, giving it $65.2 million total against a $100 million budget. It looks like this won’t be another Croods-like performer for the studio.

1. Fast & Furious 6 – $34.5 million
2. Now You See Me – $28.1 million
3. After Earth – $27 million
4. Star Trek Into Darkness – $16.4 million
5. Epic – $16.4 million

Just outside the Top 5 was The Hangover Part III, which fell 62 percent to $15.9 million in its second weekend giving it a weak $88.1 million total. It’s truly astonishing how poorly Part III is playing when compared to The Hangover Part II, which had earned $185.8 million at the same point in its run. Yes, after 11 days Part III is trailing its predecessor by $97.7 million domestically. The $103 million Warner Bros. film is unlikely to even reach the $135 million mark that Part II earned in just five days. Fortunately, the film just had a stellar $82.3 million opening weekend overseas.