Weekend Box Office: Chappie Crappy In Debut

It sure wasn’t the best of times at the North American box office this weekend. In fact, it was the worst of times. The new sci-fi flick Chappie was not only the worst number one debut since Halloween weekend last year, it led the lowest the box office top ten since the first weekend of December. In addition to Chappie’s dismal debut, Vince Vaughn bombed out with his new comedy Unfinished Business. Only The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel managed to show any signs of life in third place.

The top ten was down 18% from last weekend and a whopping 43% from last year at this time. The multiplex misfortune should turn around soon enough with the Friday arrival of Disney’s Cinderella.

Short Circuit meets Robocop in a futuristic Johannesburg. If this sounds like something you would rather not buy a ticket to, you’re not alone. Despite an extensive marketing campaign and a wide launch in 3,201 theaters, few were interested in checking out the latest from District 9 director Neill Blomkamp, Chappie. The $13.3 million opening weekend for the futuristic thriller was lower than the $14 million first day gross of District 9 six years ago.

Reviews were terrible for the $49 million Sony production, which stars Hugh Jackman, Dev Patel and Sigourney Weaver. Critical notices equaled a 29% approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes and a “B” from ticket buyers polled on CinemaScore. Making matters worse for the Sony release were the figures from overseas markets. Opening in 53 territories Chappie could only muster $13.7 million in its debut.

Last week’s number one film, the Warner con comedy Focus, had an okay hold in its second go around on 3,323 theaters. Off 46%, the Will Smith feature earned an estimated $10 million to bring its domestic total to $34.5 million. A $50 million final haul is possible. Foreign totals currently stand at $37 million.

The new sequel The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opened this weekend on 1,573 screens where it earned a decent $8.6 million. The $5,467 per screen average was the highest in the top ten. Reviews for the comedy, which reunites the director, John Madden, and stars Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith and Dev Patel were mostly on the positive end of the spectrum. The film earned a promising $21 million from foreign markets as well.

Rounding out the top five were two recent hits. Kingsman: The Secret Service continued to rake in the bucks. The film was off 30% in its fourth weekend on 3,101 screens to earn an estimated $8.3 million. The North American total stands at $98 million and overseas stands at $150 million. In fifth place was Paramount’s The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water with $7 million from 3,097 theaters. Off 35%, Bob’s fortunes stand at a big $149 million Stateside and another $110 million overseas.

The remainder of the top ten was as follows:

  1. Fifty Shades of Grey (Universal) $5.6 million (-47%); $156.4 million
  1. McFarland, USA (Disney) $5.3 million (-32%); $29.4 million
  1. The Lazarus Effect (Relativity) $5.1 million (-50%); $17.4 million
  1. The DUFF (Lionsgate) $4.85 million (-29%); $26.1 million

Rounding out the top ten was the terrible debut for the Vince Vaughn comedy Unfinished Business. The critically slammed R-rated Fox release represents a career low opening for Vaughn, who has seen his box office credibility slip down the drain over the past few years. Opening on 2,777 screens, Unfinished Business earned $4.8 million in its debut.

Just outside the top ten, Warner’s American Sniper officially became the highest-grossing film of 2014 thanks to a $4.5 million haul in its eleventh week on 2,545 screens. To date, Sniper has earned $337.2 million.

Warner’s Liam Neeson thriller Run All Night opens on Friday nationwide in addition to Disney’s live-action version of Cinderella.

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