For the first time in more than a month there was good news to go around at the box office. Both of this weekend’s major studio releases topped expectations – though clearly, one was a little showier about it. Home, the latest animated title from DreamWorks Animation, was expected to earn no more than $35 million but wound up with $54 million instead. That’s the kind of opening that DreamWorks hasn’t seen in almost three years, or about the time the company’s distribution deal with Fox kicked in.
There was a time when DreamWorks Animation was one of the most successful brands at the box office. With the Shrek franchise alone, the company brought in almost $1.5 billion in domestic sales and over $3.5 billion worldwide – not adjusted for inflation. DWA also scored big back in 2010 with How to Train Your Dragon. That film stayed in the top three for seven straight frames in North America and earned almost $500 million worldwide.
But over the last year or so DreamWorks Animation titles have mostly struggled at the box office. The Croods was a surprise hit back in March 2013, but Turbo, released that same summer, was a major disappointment. The company’s three releases in 2014 – Mr. Peabody & Sherman, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Penguins of Madagascar – also fell short of domestic expectations. To be fair, How to Train Your Dragon 2 was big with international audiences, with global grosses of over $610 million. Still, that wasn’t enough to keep the company from posting big losses last year.
DreamWorks Animation has only one film scheduled for 2015, so it’s lucky for them that Home is starting off strong. From 3,708 locations the film took in an estimated $54 million. Not only is that way above Home’s $30-$35 million projection (the range that Mr. Peabody & Sherman opened to at this time last year), it’s also the best DWA debut since Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted claimed $60.3 million in June 2012. Long-term prospects for Home are a bit less certain. The film received an A from CinemaScore audiences and is almost guaranteed to do well internationally. But up against Furious 7 next weekend? The film will have to hold well with families for DreamWorks Animation to keep its comeback hopes alive.
Home was not the only film to pull off a strong opening this weekend. Get Hard, the R-rated comedy starring Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell, earned an estimated $34.6 million from 3,175 locations. The last time two films opened above $30 million on the same weekend was in February, when Fifty Shades of Grey and Kingsman: The Secret Service claimed a combined $121.3 million. In the past six months there have been three other frames that have hosted multiple $30 million-plus openings, so the success of both Home and Get Hard is something of a rarity.
Unlike Home, Get Hard did not stun observers by over-performing this weekend. The Warner Bros. comedy was widely expected to open with at least $30 million, thanks mainly to its all-star cast. Get Hard marks the second-best opening of Kevin Hart’s career, behind the $41.5 million of 2014’s Ride Along. It’s also among the best openings of Will Ferrell’s career, outside of voice work in animated films like Megamind. Ferrell’s all-time high came in 2006, with the $47 million of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.
It Follows was a surprise addition to this weekend’s top five. As we told you yesterday, the independent horror film did so well in its first two weeks in limited release that distributor Radius-TWC decided against an immediate VOD release and expanded the film’s run to 1,218 locations. It Follows took in just over $4 million this weekend. Though that is far from the $40,000 per-venue it averaged from its initial four-theatre run, keep in mind that It Follows was driven almost exclusively by positive word of mouth, as opposed to the huge marketing efforts behind Home and Get Hard.
Finally, in holdover news, The Divergent Series: Insurgent was down nearly 58% in its second weekend. By comparison, Divergent dropped 53% in its sophomore frame last year. Now in its third week, Disney’s live-action Cinderella hit $150 million in domestic sales. Meanwhile Run All Night, which is also on week three, has yet to hit $25 million.
Overall, this weekend’s box office total was up by 8% over the same frame in 2014, when Darren Aronofsky’s Noah led with $43.7 million. Next weekend Furious 7 hits theatres. Early projections have the latest entry in Fast & Furious franchise opening with $110 million or more. If so, that would mark the first triple digit launch of 2015 and only the third since the beginning of 2014.
|6.||Kingsman: The Secret Service||$3,050,000||$119.4|
|7.||Run All Night||$2,205,000||$23.8|
|8.||The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel||$2,185,000||$28.1|
|9.||Do You Believe?||$2,150,000||$7|