Thanks to strong bows from Universal’s Non-Stop and Fox’s Son of God and the continued popularity of The Lego Movie, the North American box office stayed afloat as Hollywood got ready to hand out the Oscars. The top ten was up 13% over last weekend’s totals and up a solid 21% over last year at this time.
Liam Neeson scored his sixth number one opening in an action film this weekend with the airline thriller Non-Stop. Co-starring Julianne Moore and Oscar nominee Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave), the Universal feature took off on 3,090 screens to earn an excellent $30 million. Critics were mixed on the $50 million production directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown), but that didn’t stop audiences from turning out en masse to see Neeson do what he does best: singlehandedly kick asses for 120 minutes.
Religious groups turned out in big numbers this weekend to see Son of God, a film consisting of footage previously included in the television miniseries The Bible. The film traces the life of Christ and was produced by Survivor’s Mark Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel). To be honest, I can’t recall a single television ad for this film, not one. But Fox didn’t need to buy airtime nor did they need to screen it for critics, who wound up panning the feature. No, Fox knew exactly who to target with their marketing, which were religious groups and churches. That focused marketing paid off big time as Son of God earned a big $26.5 million on 3,260 screens. The film’s true test will come next weekend to see if word-of-mouth will spread outside its targeted demographic.
After a remarkably strong three week stance at the top of the box office chart, The Lego Movie found itself stepping aside for the arrival of Liam and Jesus. Despite dropping to third place, the Warner smash added another $21 million to its already huge total. After four weeks, the domestic total for Lego stands tall at $209.3 million. The $250 million mark will be the film’s next domestic target.
Also entering its second month in the top five is Sony’s World War II feature The Monuments Men. The George Clooney-directed adventure eased 37% in round four on 3,002 screens to earn an estimated $5 million. To date, the movie has earned $65.6 million and could wind down its run with approximately $75 million.
Crashing and burning in its second weekend in fifth place was the Kevin Costner thriller 3 Days to Kill. The McG-directed feature lost 60% of its opening weekend crowd to earn a weak $4.9 million on 2,872 screens. The ten-day total stands at $20.7 million and may crawl its way to the $30 million mark by the end of its domestic run.
With the Academy Awards Sunday night, the nominated features still in wide release made one last attempt to earn some additional nomination coin. Disney’s megahit em>Frozen added $3.6 million to bring its domestic total to $388 million and its global overall total to the one billion dollar mark. The studio’s domestic release of Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises arrived on 496 screens to earn a moderate $1.6 million.
American Hustle boogied another $1.9 million into Sony’s coffers. Its total stands at $146.7 million. The Wolf of Wall Street and Philomena both added another $1.2 million to their totals, which now stand at $114 million and $34.6 million respectively. Front-runners 12 Years a Slave and Gravity pulled in $900,000 and $875,000 despite both being widely available on home video. 12 Years a Slave has earned $50 million while Gravity has orbited a remarkable $270 million.
The remainder of the top ten is as follows:
6. Robocop (2014) (Sony/MGM) $4.5 million (-54%); $51.2 million
7. Pompeii (Sony) $4.3 million (-58%); $17.7 million
9. About Last Night (2014) (Sony) $3.4 million (-55%); $43.7 million
10. Ride Along (Universal) $3 million (-34%); $127.1 million
Next weekend sees the arrival of the delayed 300: Rise of An Empire, the animated Mr. Peabody and Sherman and in limited release the latest Wes Anderson feature The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Enjoy the Oscars, everyone!