• Industry

World Box Office December 8-14

Los Angeles. For Peter Jackson and for Bilbo, Gandalf, Thorin, Legolas and the other residents of Middle Earth this was a weekend to celebrate. For Ridley Scott, it was instead a disappointing one. Having Moses on his side did not help in opening the box office as much as he had hoped.
We are referring to The Battle of the Five Armies and to Exodus: Gods And Kings, the latest films by the two popular directors. After 15 years spent with Lord of the Rings and then with The Hobbit, Jackson is now officially done with the fantastic world created by J. R. R. Tolkien, and he could not have hoped for a better ending: his latest installment made over $117 million in 37 countries in its overseas launch this weekend. This figure doesn’t include the U.S., where it will open next week, and China where the film’s release has been pushed to January. Over $19 million was generated in Germany alone, Brazil and Mexico were good for $18 million, $15 million came from the UK, and $13.4 million from Russia. Five Armies ran ahead of The Desolation of Smaug in every market and then there was the Imax business: 160 screens, mostly in Europe and the Middle East, produced $6.4 million. All this means that the goal of $1 billion is now within reach. 
Ridley Scott’s biblical and extremely expensive saga didn’t fare so well. Christian Bale traded his Batman cape for the sword and sandals of Moses but the change was only good for $24.5 million on its opening weekend. To offer a comparison, when Noah opened this past March it earned $43.7 million and it ended barely making $100 million in the U.S. and Canada. Even Son of God, a Biblical production made on the cheap, made more money in its opening weekend. That does not qualify it as a disaster, but to make up ground, 20th Century Fox has to rest its hopes overseas, where the film has already grossed $50 million in 27 markets. Korea is now over $10 million and the sales have been pretty decent in Mexico (over $8 million), Spain ($7,5 million), and Australia ($4. 7 million). Back to the States, the other wide release was Chris Rock’s Top Five, which earned $7.2 million on its opening weekend and is counting on good reviews and good word of mouth to stay strong during the holidays. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part I kept marching on, gathering another $13 million domestic for a total of over $277 million. Overseas, it passed the $610 million mark. DreamWorks’s Penguins of Madagascar had a $7.3 million weekend at home and it stands at a worldwide total of $175 million. Disney’s Big Hero 6 added $6 million domestic and after six weekends is at $185 million, while things are still relatively slow overseas, with many markets set to open for Christmas.
The opposite is true of Interstellar. Christopher Nolan’s latest vehicle added $5.5 million domestically over the weekend, which brings it to a total of $167 million, whereas worldwide it stands at $622 million. Horrible Bosses 2 added $4.6 million and Dumb and Dumber To added just $2.8 million for the weekend to reach a domestic total just above $80 million. Then we have the movies set to open wide next year and out in a few markets for Awards consideration. Among them: Eddie Redmayne’s The Theory of Everything, Michael Keaton’s Birdman, Benedict Cumberbatch’s The Imitation Game, Reese Witherspoon’s Wild. And Inherent Vice, Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1970s farce, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson and Jena Malone, among others, which is planning to go wide on January 9.
Next week we will witness the American debuts of Annie and Night at the Museum 3, which comes with the Robin Williams nostalgia factor. The big question is whether Battle of the Five Armies will be able to duplicate its overseas success in its home market debut.
Lorenzo Soria