Weekend Box Office: Will Smith Scores Soft Number One Debut With Focus

The North American box office opted to take the weekend off as the new Will Smith film Focus opened in the number one spot with mediocre numbers. However, the opening for Smith’s latest effort was far better than the dismal opening for Relativity’s horror flick The Lazarus Effect, which debuted in fifth place. Overall, the top ten was down twelve percent from the same time one year ago.

With the exception of the $14.8 million debut for Seven Pounds, the estimated $19.1 million from 3,323 venues for Focus was the lowest opening for a Will Smith film in a decade (yes, even After Earth opened higher). The $50 million production -a con comedy co-starring Margot Robbie and directed by Crazy, Stupid, Love’s Glenn Ficarra and John Requa- was met with mixed reviews from the nation’s critics (56% on Rotten Tomatoes) and so-so approval from ticket buyers on CinemaScore, where the film earned a “B” rating.

Whether the mixed notices, winter weather paralyzing parts of the country or the possibility that Smith’s box office popularity is on the decline factored into Focus’ soft opening remains to be seen. Once again, the foreign markets will be looked upon to be a film’s financial savior.

One film having no problem drawing people in is Fox’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, which stayed in second place with an estimated $11.75 million from 3,282 theaters. The film eased 36% in its third weekend of release and has collared a solid $85.6 million so far. It should cross the $100 million mark within the next two weeks and could work its way to $110-115 million. Foreign totals currently stand at $100 million.

Third and fourth place went to two recent hits. Paramount’s The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water took third place with $11.2 million from 3,467 theaters. After one month, the $74 million production has earned $140.3 million Stateside with another $76 million from overseas. Bob should wind down his domestic run near the $170 million mark.

Universal’s Fifty Shades of Grey continued its rapid descent into box office oblivion. The erotic drama lost 51% of its audience in its third weekend on 3,383 screens to earn $10.9 million, good enough for a fourth place finish. Its domestic total now stands at $147.7 million with a final total near $160 million still possible. The film continues to be a monster overseas where it has earned a great $338 million so far.

Rounding out the top five was Relativity’s PG-13 horror opus The Lazarus Effect, which opened with a dismal $10.6 million from 2,500 screens. Directed by David Gelb and starring Olivia Wilde and Mark Duplass, Lazarus was dismissed by critics, who branded the film with a 14% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Ticket buyers weren’t all that much kinder. They gave the horror feature a “C” CinemaScore rating. If there is a silver lining for Relativity, it is that the studio got the film cheap ($3.3 million), so their losses should be on the minimal side.

With the Academy Awards in the rearview mirror, it was time for some of the winners to reap what financial awards they could at the box office. American Sniper earned $7.7 million to land in seventh place. It’s total stands at $331 million and will become the highest-grossing film of 2014 within the next week. Still Alice made its way into the top ten with a $2.69 million ninth-place haul. It’s total stands at $12 million so far.

Three winners that are available on home video also pulled in some extra box office green. Best Picture winner Birdman saw its earnings soar 125% over a week ago to earn $1.97 million from 1,213 theaters in its twentieth week of release. Its domestic total stands at $40.2 million. The Theory of Everything and Whiplash each rose 20% over their Oscar weekend earnings. Each pulled in approximately $650,000 apiece. Theory’s total now stands at $35 million while Whiplash has drummed up $12.2 million.

The remainder of the top ten was as follows:

  1.  McFarland, USA (Disney) $7.8 million (-23%); $22 million
  1.  The DUFF (Lionsgate) $7.1 million (-34%); $20 million
  1.  Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (Paramount/MGM) $2.4 million (-60%); $10.2 million

Next weekend brings the debuts of Chappie, Unfinished Business and The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

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