In most years, January tends to be the most boring month of the year for the box office. This is where Hollywood typically sends the movies in which it has the least faith. This is the dumping ground, the place where movies go to die so the studios can concentrate on their Oscar campaigns. However, thanks to ‘American Sniper,’ this January has bucked every trend. It may technically be a 2014 release, but Clint Eastwood’s war film has made the first chunk of 2015 interesting, shattering expectations and threatening to become the highest grossing film of last year in only a few weeks.
Super Bowl commercials are still a big, huge, massive, crazy deal, with major corporations shelling out absurd amounts of money on ads designed to win over the most reliably large and receptive audience in all of televised sports. So of course ‘SNL’ was going to contribute its own commercial parody to the mix...but man, no one was expecting something this mean, scathing or on-point.
After the jam-packed month of December, with its huge family-friendly blockbusters and awards season Oscar bait, we have arrived in the month of January. Formerly a dumping ground for mediocre films, the month has taken on a new identity in the past few years as a testing ground for unique genre films (think ‘Cloverfield’) and a solid place to release a horror movie, which seems to do quite well right around New Year’s for whatever reason. This year, we have ‘The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death,’ which had a fairly solid opening. Not solid enough to topple the Christmas Week champions, but no one is complaining too much.
As expected, ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ won the weekend, but a quick examination of the actual numbers makes this victory feel just a little hollow. The same goes for ‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’ and ‘Annie,’ both of which took second and third place without putting forward particularly impressive numbers. Yep, the holiday box office looked just a little rough this weekend.
Sometimes, a film can effortlessly open at number one at the box office while still being a pretty huge disaster. This is the case with ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings,’ which rode a wave of terrible reviews and an even more terrible marketing campaign to a hugely disappointing start. With a lot of big movies opening the next two weeks, the new Biblical epic won’t even find time to grow some legs. Chances are strong that it is dead on arrival.
Appropriately, the Thanksgiving holiday box office was all about the leftovers. While two high profile new releases struggled to open, films from the past few weeks continued to do solid business. In fact, this was one of the most varied weekends at the box office in quite some time, with YA adaptations, animated family movies, epic blockbusters, and small independent films all performing better than expected.
There‘s going to be a lot of blood and ink spilled across the internet on the subject of the opening weekend for ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1.’ Yes, the third film in the series did open significantly lower than its predecessors. Yes, there are definitely people at Lionsgate wringing their hands and trying to figure out why the film opened below expectations. And yet, that opening weekend is still massive. It’s three day total is larger than most movies ever have a chance to make in their entire runs. So, let's have some perspective as we dive into this week’s top 10.
Earlier this week, it was reported that Justin Lin was being courted by Universal to return to the ‘Fast and Furious’ series after taking ‘Furious 7’ off and giving the director's seat to James Wan. It was also reported that his return would be be part of a two film “grand finale” that would send this beloved franchise driving off into the sunset. But that second part is just plain silly. Have you seen the box office receipts for these movies? So it should come as no surprise that the studio has “at least three” more Dominic Toretto and company adventures in the pipeline.
Although 'Nightcrawler,' the only new wide release of the week, did end up taking the top spot at the box office this weekend, it did so in one of the tightest races we've ever seen. The top six films all came within $3 million of each other and the order could have radically changed by a stiff breeze for all we know. Heck, some titles may get swapped around by tomorrow when the studios release some more official numbers.
Every few months, someone on the internet loudly declares that we're probably nearing the end of the superhero movie as a popular genre. And then, every few months, another trailer arrives that proves that we're going to be watching movies starring people wearing capes and tights for a long time yet. The new trailer for 'Avengers 2' lit the internet on fire, as you'd expect from the sequel to one of the most popular blockbusters in recent years. In fact, if success can be measured in trailer views, then Marvel and Disney can already call this one a big winner.
Brad Pitt's new World War II drama 'Fury' opened at number at the box office and has officially defined what this October has been about: long, R-rated movies featuring huge movie stars bucking the usual trends and out-grossing their family friendly competition. Between this and 'Gone Girl,' it looks like grown adults are heading to their multiplex more than ever these days.
'Gone Girl' may have barely won its first weekend at the box office over 'Annabelle,' but in its second week of release, it emerged as the real victor. Fighting off tons of new competition, David Fincher's thriller held onto the number one spot and made it look easy.
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