Another week brought another three films to the box office fray all looking to make a mark before next week's start of the summer movie season. Unlike the past two weeks, one of the new releases made it to the top slot, while another cemented a scary box office trend for studios.
Fox (NASDAQ: FOXA )
The Other Woman
Finish: 1st place / Est. budget: $40 million / 3-day estimated total: $25.1 million
Women ruled the box office this weekend as The Other Woman dethroned reigning champ Captain America: The Winter Soldier. After holding off challenges from a number of movies (included surprising upstart Heaven Is for Real), it was a trio of women that ended the super-hero's streak at three. Cameron Diaz's first real headlining role since 2011's Bad Teacher was a hit, earning by some estimates between $5 million and $10 million more than first projected. After a drought of woman-centric films (and mainstream comedies) Woman pushed all the right buttons and came up big. Fox should be thrilled -- this was a big win coming at a great time.
Fox has five films out this summer (including three over a four-week period), but the studio's first entry (X-Men: Days of Future Past) doesn't come until the season's fourth week, so executives will be banking on Woman to keep pulling crowds. While some have speculated it will have a little ways still to go to recoup its $40 million production budget, the truth is that it's well position as a solid alternative to the high-octane popcorn flicks due out in the weeks ahead. Even if the film drops 50% week to week it will still be just a few million shy of profitability.
Finish: 5th place / Est. budget: $28 million / 3-day estimated total: $9.4 million
The death of Paul Walker last year was tragic for a number of reasons. Between being a talented actor on the cusp of breaking through and being a dedicated father, fans came to learn after the fact he was also a great humanitarian. Mansions was one of his final films and while it didn't have a huge week, it showed the potential Walker had to eventually open a film on his name alone. Nobody expected this movie to do that well (regardless of the circumstances tied to its release), but when Fast and Furious 7 opens you'll truly see the size and scope of his fan base -- that weekend will serve as the ultimate tribute to Walker.
Having a film starring a high-profile actor who recently passed away is not easy -- it must be done with sensitivity and that's exactly the way Relativity handled it. As Universal did with the home entertainment release of Fast & Furious 6, Relativity made a donation to Walker's charity "Reach Out Worldwide" and throughout Mansions' lead-up was careful in its marketing and promotion.
From a studio perspective Mansions is the studio's second film out this month and it comes following the somewhat disappointing debut of Oculus. The next chance for the studio will come in June with Lullaby, but neither it nor the studio's two following releases are expected to make that much noise at the box office. Then again, none are projected to have that high of a budget.
Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF )
The Quiet Ones
Finish: 7th place / Est. budget: NA / 3-day estimated total: $4 million
Horror films have had a rough go this year, but this is a new level of drop-off. In previous cases like Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, Devil's Due, and Oculus, you could write off low openings because the budget was so small that a film could become profitable in week one, even without a massive opening. That's not the case here.
While the budget is unavailable, it is likely higher than $5 million and the movie couldn't even pull that this weekend. Early estimates had it and Brick Mansions both likely to make $10 million, but that projection turned out to be way off. The continued decline of the horror movie genre has got to be scary to executives -- this was a dependable type of film over the last few years, so studios ordered up a full plate. With more dues this summer, executives have to hope a change of season will lead to a change of taste.
Quiet Ones was a low-risk, high-reward project, but it just didn't pan out. Lionsgate has a few limited releases out in May and June, but the studio doesn't make its first splash until July with Step Up: All In, the (I've completely lost track) installment of the popular dance franchise. The following month the studio rolls out another sequel in The Expendables 3 -- between the two, they're looking to rebound from this quiet weekend.
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