As expected, Ride Along easily claimed a second frame on top of the domestic box office. The Universal comedy took in an estimated $21.1 million this weekend, or more than twice the amount credited to the week’s sole new release: I, Frankenstein. The Lionsgate release pulled in an estimated $8.2 million in its first three days – falling below the very low bar set by the studio’s last feature, The Legend of Hercules, just two weeks ago.
|3.||The Nut Job||$12,316,000||$40.2|
|5.||Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit||$8,800,000||$30.1|
|8.||August: Osage County||$5,041,000||$26.5|
|9.||The Wolf of Wall Street||$5,000,000||$98|
Just to refresh your memories, The Legend of Hercules opened with $8.8 million and has now earned just $17 million after 17 days. That’s not good, but it may end up beating I, Frankenstein. The latest take on Mary Shelley’s monster opened in 2,753 locations on Friday, with approximately 95% of those screening the film in 3D or IMAX. In comparison, Hercules opened on 2,104 screens with less than half of its locations featuring higher-priced large formats. Hercules also got a smaller marketing push and opened on a more competitive frame. The point? I, Frankenstein looks bad from where I’m sitting.
To be fair, no one was expecting I, Frankenstein to come out huge. Lionsgate announced that $10 million was the most they were expecting and, had the film been a low-budget horror film, that would have seemed about right. Trouble is, I, Frankenstein is much closer to the successful Underworld franchise than to last weekend’s Devil’s Due. Between 2003 and 2012, the four Underworld features all opened above $20 million and realized healthy worldwide profits for Sony/Screen Gems. Right now, I, Frankenstein will have to pray for international numbers to save it. It could happen. At this time last year, Paramount’s Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters was a modest success in North America ($55 million), but earned over $170 million overseas, thanks in part to its 3D effects.
Hercules and Frankenstein have one more point of commonality aside from their studio of origin: their awful reviews. I, Frankenstein was not screened for critics in advance, but as of today it ranks a toxic 5% on Rotten Tomatoes (just a bit higher than the 3% of Hercules). Both films cost over $65 million before marketing so a failure to reach half that amount would be notable. Lionsgate would like it noted that their financial exposure on Frankenstein was ‘minimal,’ but even if that was not the case, the studio behind 2013’s highest-grossing Catching Fire has some room for error this early in the year.
One week ago, I mentioned that Ride Along was succeeding in spite of its unusually toxic critical reception – currently 17% on Rotten Tomatoes (a tidal wave of praise compared to I, Frankenstein). This week the comedy was down 49% – a standard drop that may not have been enough to claim a win against a stronger new title. By comparison, Paul Blart: Mall Cop was off by 32% in its sophomore frame in January 2009. Because of its higher opening, however, Ride Along remains ahead of comparable comedies at the ten day mark, including Paul Blart ($64.9 million) and last year’s Identity Thief ($70.9 million).
This weekend’s overall box office came in at $114 million – about even with the same frame in 2013, when Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters reigned with its debut of $19.6 million. Next week will see the release of Focus Features’ That Awkward Moment. The romantic comedy is not expected to hit $15 million, though that should still be good enough for first place barring a remarkable hold from Ride Along.