Weekend Box Office: “Sea” Sinks Like a Stone

The Warner whaling tale In the Heart of the Sea sank like a stone at the North America box office this weekend. The dismal opening for the pricey Ron Howard epic wasn’t the only film playing to empty auditoriums. A lack of enticing product, holiday shopping and festivities as well as ticket buyers saving their money for next weekend’s arrival of Star Wars: The Force Awakens added up to a terrible $66 million top ten haul, a drop of 24% from last weekend and 11% from last year.

Leading the pack for the final time was The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part Two with an estimated $11.3 million from 3,651 screens. Off 40% from last weekend, the Lionsgate release has earned $244.5 million so far. Mockingjay Part Two becomes the only other film outside the first to stay at number one for four weeks straight. The Katniss finale has brought in $320 million overseas.

After a nine-month delay, In the Heart of the Sea arrived on 3,103 screens this weekend where it went on to earn a waterlogged $11 million. The dismal opening for the seafaring tale is the latest big budget bomb for Warner Brothers, a studio who is all too happy to see 2015 come to a close. The $100 million production recounts the sinking of the whaling ship Essex, which inspired the novel Moby Dick. Chris Hemsworth, Ben Wishlaw, Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson star.

Critics gave Sea a damning 43% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Ticket buyers were a little kinder to Opie’s latest opus. They gave the film a “B+” rating on CinemaScore. With lukewarm feedback and Star Wars arriving in five days, any chances for Sea to tread water throughout the holiday season are slim to none. The film’s overseas haul currently stands at $19 million.

Disney’s The Good Dinosaur stabilized a bit in its third weekend as the pricey Pixar production dipped only 31% to earn an estimated $10.5 million from 3,606 theaters. After three weeks, the film has earned $89.7 million. The film should see a bit of a boost once the holidays roll around, which could push the final domestic haul to the $120 million mark. Overseas, the feature has earned $78 million.

One film that has delivered for Warner Brothers this fall is Creed, which landed in fourth place with $10.1 million from 3,502 theaters. The boxing drama eased 32% in its third round, bringing its overall total to $79.3 million. Word of mouth has kept the film afloat and should continue to do so throughout the rest of the month.

A final haul around $110 million is possible for the $35 million production. Should the film score some Oscar nomination in January, the final total could go higher.

Rounding out the top five was Universal’s holiday horror comedy Krampus with $8 million. Off 51% -a solid hold for a horror film-, Krampus has earned $28 million so far and should finish around $40 million, a healthy return on the $15 million production.

The remainder of the top ten:

  1.  SPECTRE (Sony/MGM) $4 million (-28%); $190.7 million
  1.  The Night Before (Sony) $3.9 million (-22%); $38.2 million
  1.  The Peanuts Movie (Fox) $2.65 million (-26%); $125 million
  1.  Spotlight (Open Road) $2.5 million (-10%); $20.3 million
  1.  Brooklyn (Fox Searchlight) $1.97 million (-19%); $14.3 million

Just outside the top ten, Paramount’s acclaimed comedy/drama The Big Short had a spectacular debut on just eight screens in New York and Los Angeles. The Adam McKay feature earned $720,000 this weekend for a great per screen average of $90,000. The film goes into wide release a week from this upcoming Wednesday.

Next weekend, it’s all about Star Wars. The most anticipated film in recent memory will finally make its presence know starting Thursday night. One question that remains is whether enough people will put their holiday activities on hold to help the film break the $208 million opening weekend record set by Jurassic World six months ago.

The comedy Sisters and the family feature Alvin and the Chipmunks Take on ISIS also open next Friday.

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