Weekend Box Office: 'Veronica Mars' Earns $2M, 'Mr. Peabody And Sherman' Tops

Mar 16 2014, 10:59am CDT | by

Weekend Box Office: 'Veronica Mars' Earns $2M, 'Mr. Peabody And Sherman' Tops
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

Note – For about two minutes, this post had an erroneous headline that read “Mr. Sherman and Peabody“, instead of “Mr. Peabody and Sherman“. It has been fixed, but apologies for the mistake if it still shows up in social media feeds and the like.

Here is a classic example of “rank doesn’t matter”. Thanks to somewhat under-performing new releases and a harsh drop for last weekend’s champion, the number one film of the weekend is last weekend’s alleged “flop” Mr. Peabody and Sherman. The DreamWorks Animation release earned $21.2 million, down just 34% from last weekend. Does that automatically mean that everyone who wrote off Mr. Peabody and Sherman as a flop last weekend has to apologize and/or correct themselves? Maybe, but its arbitrary rank has little to do with its box office success. The openers were weak and families already bought Frozen on VOD (or pre-ordered the blu-ray for this Tuesday) and have already seen The LEGO Movie once or twice.

The 20th Century Fox release ended the weekend with $63.2 million after ten days, still below the norm for a DWA March release but it’s already outpacing Turbo and Rise of the Guardians domestically. Its weekend drop was slightly less than The Croods but only slightly more than How To Train Your Dragon, so thus far the smaller $32m debut weekend is the only “differential” in terms of DWA spring debuts. If it plays like The Croods, it will get to $135m domestic, which is actually squarely in the “not bad” category for DreamWorks originals, with potential riches yet to come overseas. I’m not saying it’s a hit yet, especially with the terrific The Muppets Most Wanted coming down the pike, but it’s not dead yet. This, combined with the relative staying power of 300: Rise of an Empire (more on that below), also makes this a good lesson in not declaring failure after opening weekend.

The most interesting new release was of course the 291 screen release of Warner Bros.’ Veronica Mars movie. As you know, the film was a feature continuation of the beloved but poorly rated television show. The film version, coming seven years after the end of its third and final season, was funded mostly by hardcore fans using Kickstarter. The film actually debuted in 291 theaters and Video On Demand on the same day, unheard of for a major studio release. Warner had to rent out many of those theaters as the big chains generally don’t play movies that are available on VOD. I don’t have VOD numbers and may not for awhile, but the film’s theatrical release opened to $2 million, or just over a third of its $5.7 million budget.

With $1m on Friday, it’s arguably the least-shocking 2.0x multiplier in modern history.  Maybe it has something vaguely resembling legs and gets to $6m, or maybe it’s the most front-loaded movie of all time and it’s done after today. It will be interesting to watch because, again, there is just no precedent for this.  Of course, at least some of that $5.7m raised was “compensated” via digital downloads of the film, so that’s a sizable chunk of the VOD audience already accounted for. Again, this is a strange release, completely without precedent in box office history.

There just aren’t a lot of “film continuation of cancelled cult TV show funded directly by the fans and then given a limited theatrical release and same-day national VOD availability” examples to compare this to. Those who wanted to this got the movie they wanted. Aside from complaints about investors being unable to access their digital copy via Warner Bros.’ flawed Flixter program (Warner will refund those who gave up and bought the film elsewhere), this was an unmitigated success for the fans and for the investors. Warner Bros. barely spent a dime on advertising, and yet they will still reap most of the profits. For what it’s worth, considering how many fans already bought the film digitally, Warner better make sure the blu-ray is crammed with special features.

The big new release was actually from DreamWorks’ live-action department, as the Walt Disney-distributed Need For Speed earned $17.83 million for the weekend. The poorly reviewed $66 million video game adaptation sadly declared that Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul is not quite a movie star. No one was expecting this to pull in Fast/Furious numbers, but this was closer to Sylvester Stallone’s Driven. There is little good news stateside, as the competition will be brutal in the next few weeks thanks to DivergentSabotage, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. $55m domestic would be a gift. The video game adaptation sub-genre has a long and storied history of box office misses and/or critical disasters. Barring strong overseas numbers (it earned $45.3m overseas for a $63.4m worldwide total), Need For Speed is merely another member of said club.

While DreamWorks has been doing mostly fine in the animation department, they have been very hit and miss in the live-action department. They had a few solid hits coming right at the start of their Disney deal (The HelpReel Steel, War Horse) in 2011, but also had the disappointing Fight Night remake ($41m on a $30m budget). And it’s been all down hill since then save for Lincoln. After People Like Us, The Fifth Estate, and Delivery Man, they needed Need For Speed to be a big hit more than any major studio should need a $60m video game adaptation starring the second lead of a cable television show to be a big hit. I’ll be happy to eat my words if Need For Speed kills overseas. It’s already earned its budget back worldwide, but $21m of this weekend’s haul already includes China. Domestically, the film played 70% male, 45% 25-and-over, and 43% 3D.

Speaking of struggling, Tyler Perry’s Single Moms Club earned just $8.3 million over the weekend, making it the single worst opening weekend in Perry’s directing career. It’s the first time he has ever had an under-$10m debut weekend. The buzz just wasn’t there, lacking both Madea and/or any media-friendly celebrities (no Janet Jackson or Kim Kardashian this time around). Considering that Lionsgate is basically getting out of the Tyler Perry business and we’re approaching the tenth anniversary of Diary Of A Mad Black Woman next year, this utter failure of his fifteenth feature doesn’t send the right signal, especially with no other projects on the release calendar as of this writing. If I were head of any of the small studios (Open Road, Relativity), I’d snap up Tyler Perry in a heartbeat, but he really needs to have a few hits that aren’t Medea-specific or find a way to find a way to branch out (a supporting role in Ride Along 2?).

In other limited debuts, Jason Bateman’s directorial debut, Bad Words, earned $120,000 from six locations for a solid $20k per-screen average. The Focus Features release took a real risk debuting in platform, as the bawdy comedy about an adult who competes in kids spelling bees doesn’t exactly scream “art house cinema”. The film expands next weekend to twenty additional markets before going wide on March 28th. A24 debuted the well-reviewed Jake Gylleenhall sci-fi thriller Enemy on just a single screen, so it means absolutely nothing that the film earned $18,000 from that single screen. The film has been available on VOD but apparently on DirectTV only (it’s certainly nowhere that I usually go for VOD titles), but hopefully it will expand both theatrically and on the VOD market.

300: Rise of an Empire  dropped 58% from last weekend, earning $19.1 million and ending day ten with $78.3m. It’s not far off from the trajectory of the original 300, which dropped 53% from its debut weekend, although the numbers were obviously a bit larger seven years ago. It’s got another weekend of clear sailing in terms of R-rated action until Sabotage drops on March 28th. So it’s still kicking despite premature declarations of death. Non-Stop earned another $10.3m on its third weekend. The Liam Neeson actioner passed Unknown‘s $63m domestic total on Saturday and now sits with $68.8m. $100m domestic is still possible.

The LEGO Movie dropped 29% from last weekend, earning another $7.7m and bringing its cume to $236.9m. It’s the 11th-biggest non-sequel animated film in America and is quickly moving up the list. It’s not exactly burning up the overseas charts ($500m may be the ceiling), but it also only cost $60m to produce. The Grand Budapest Hotel expanded from four to 66 theaters and earned another $3.64 million for a scorching $55,151+ per-screen average. The challenge now will be successfully selling the film as a mainstream comedy as it expands into quasi-wide release, but the second weekend numbers are incredibly encouraging.

Endless Love now sits with $23m domestic and $31m worldwide while Gravity earned another $500k for a $272.6m domestic cume. Universal’s winter warriors Lone Survivor and Ride Along are now at $124.6m and $132.1m respectively. In Paramount holdover news, The Wolf of Wall Street earned another $405k for a new domestic total of $116m. Nebraska earned $71k and brought its cume to $17.6m. Anchorman 2 is still in 50 theaters and earned $21k for a new $127.3m cume. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit earned another $130k, bringing its cume to $50.2m. Labor Day earned another $15k in 42 theaters and brought its cume to $13.6m.

In Sony holdover news, The Monuments Men earned $2m and brought its cume to $73.819m.  Robocop earned another $850k (-58%) for a new domestic cume of $56.521m. About Last Night earned another $675k from 624 screens for a new cume of $47.821m.             Pompeii earned another $585k from 671 screens (-63%) for a new domestic cume of $22.4m. American Hustle earned another $600k and now has $149.343m while Stalingrad dropped 70% for a $470k weekend on 70 IMAX screens for a $960k total. Fox’s Son of God dropped another 50% for around $5.4m but still topped $50m domestic. Walt Disney’s Frozen earned another $2m and brought its domestic cume to $396m, meaning $400m is still possible if it can hold onto theaters for a few more weeks.

That’s a wrap for today!  Join us next weekend for Lionsgate’s next big young-adult fantasy-literature franchise Divergent (review today or tomorrow) while Disney unleashes The Muppets Most Wanted (review Monday or Tuesday).   But for now, here’s a handy top-ten chart courtesy of Rentrak:


Mr. Peabody And Sher FOX









300: Rise Of An Empi WB









Need For Speed DIS









Non-Stop UNI









Tyler Perry’s The Si LGF









Lego Movie, The WB









Son Of God FOX









Grand Budapest Hotel FSL









Frozen DIS









Veronica Mars WB









Source: Forbes Business


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