Three new wide releases all did decent business this weekend, but none of them even came close to matching the incredible performance of Deadpool. Of the three, Risen faired the best with $11.8M, though The Witch was arguably more impressive. Also opening was Race, which failed to garner much interest with its mixed reviews and subpar marketing.
Deadpool easily repeated in first with a whopping $55M, down 59% from last weekend. That’s actually a very respectable drop, as it managed to avoid the dreaded 60% that many similar films seem to have. Watchmen, for example, plummeted 68% in its second weekend, while 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past fell 64%. Not to mention, Deadpool has actually topped the domestic total of Future Past in just two weeks, for an incredible domestic total of $235M. At this point, $300M is more or less a lock, and it has a serious shot at topping the $333M total of Guardians of the Galaxy, which would be an absurdly impressive result.This also shows that it wasn’t just a fanboy affair that would quickly burn out after its opening weekend, as it clearly has very widespread appeal. At this point, the sky is the limit.
In second place, Kung Fu Panda 3 scored a solid $12.5M, down just 37% from last weekend. That brings its domestic total to $117M, significantly behind the $143.6M of Kung Fu Panda 2 at the same point. While its hard to call this a disappointment, it’s likely to wind up with under $150M domestically, which is a bit underwhelming.
In third place, Risen got off to a very solid start with $11.8M, nicely paired with an A-Cinemascore that will likely result in very solid word of mouth. This debut is also around $500,000 higher than August’s War Room, a very solid result, even though Risen is playing in about 1,000 more theaters. Films aimed at a Christian audience tend to hold quite well, and without any direct competition until Miracles from Heaven, there’s a very good chance that it should be able to gross over $40M domestic.
In fourth place, The Witch was possibly the most impressive of the trio of new releases, as it was able to take in a very strong $8.6M from just over 2,000 theaters. However, the film was not nearly well liked by audiences as critics, with a C- Cinemascore drastically contrasting with its 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. Having seen the film, however, neither of those results are surprsing; the film uses a very slow burn, tension filled horror film with moody atmosphere, a 1600’s dialect that can be very hard to understand, and extremely graphic and disturbing imagery, rather than the more typical Blumhouse style horror films that audiences have become used to. Still, A24 deserves credit for taking a very low budget festival acquisition much more marketed towards an arthouse crowd and managing to turn it into a release in over 2,000 theaters. Both A24 and STX Entertainment are following this model, and A24 has seen very solid results. Ex Machina managed to pull in over $25M domestic in over 2,000 theaters, Room scored over $13M domestic and a Best Picture nomination, Spring Breakers did over $14M domestic from over 1,000 theaters, while STX Entertainment has slated Hardcore Henry for nationwide release in April. All of these films are very low budget and more intended for festival audiences, yet can be marketed properly to get solid audience results, regardless of how much they actually like the film (in the cases of Spring Breakers and The Witch, not very much) However it is still a very interesting business model, and one that seems to be serving the studio well. Universal Pictures also tried this out last year with Unfriended, which was purchased when it was still under the name Cybernatural and then given a wide release, where it grossed over $60M worldwide. The Witch cost just $3.5M to produce, and is estimated to have cost the studio a total of around $10M for marketing, acquisition and releasing, making this a win. If it can gross over $25M, it will become A24’s highest grossing release to date; however, it seems more likely that it will wind up with around $20M total.
In sixth place, Race got off to a fairly slow start. It opened with just $7.2M from 2,369 theaters, giving it a per theater average of $3,071. However, it’s not exactly a huge failure, as the biopic cost just $5M to produce and should see solid word of mouth thanks to an A Cinemascore. However, it faces direct competition from Eddie the Eagle in just a week, a film that seems generally more appealing and has star power from Hugh Jackman and Kingsman‘s Taron Egerton. If it can hold well and gross over $20M, it’ll be safe to call this a small win.
In just 35 theaters, Chinese mega-blockbuster The Mermaid grossed a fantastic $1M, giving it a per theater average of $29K. The film is already the highest grossing Chinese film ever, so releasing the film into a small number of theaters in heavily-Chinese areas was a smart move. In US dollars, the film cost around $60M to make and has grossed over $400M. It’ll be interesting to see how the Chinese film industry develops alongside the US one, as for a while US blockbusters were all the rage, but films like Monster Hunt, The Monkey King and now The Mermaid are clearly changing the game. This is especially impressive considering the films R rating, something that can be compared to Deadpool. The movie industry is a constantly changing one, and its sure to be very different in 5 years than what it is now.