Weekend Report: 'Focus' Pulls Off Minor Heist at the Box Office
by Ray Subers
March 1, 2015
While it didn't quite return Will Smith to his former box office glory, Focus (2015) still easily took the top spot on a quiet weekend at the box office.
Kingsman: The Secret Service and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water held on to second and third place, respectively, while The Lazarus Effect got off to a so-so start in fifth.
Focus opened to $18.7 million this weekend, which is a bit lower than Crazy, Stupid, Love.'s debut (that's the last movie from directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa). It ranks in the bottom half of Smith's movies; it is at least ahead of Seven Pounds ($14.9 million), though that movie's December opening held is back a bit. Seven Pounds wrapped up its run with $70 million, which is a number Focus is going to have a tough time matching.
The lower-than-expected haul could be placed on Smith's shoulders: MIB 3 and After Earth are the entirety of his output in the past six years, which probably wasn't a great way to maintain his A-list brand.
The real problem, though, was the movie's muddled marketing effort. Advertisements successfully conveyed the movie's tone, and the fact that it was about con artists. Beyond that, though, the marketing was fairly indecipherable. There was no clear hook, and no sense for who or what these con artists were robbing from. Compare that to Ocean's Eleven, where it was abundantly clear that George Clooney and his merry band of all-star actors were hitting three of the biggest casinos in Las Vegas.
Still, while this isn't a fantastic debut, it sure isn't a bad one, either: in three days, Focus (2015) has already earned more than recent flops Mortdecai and Blackhat combined.
Focus's audience was 53 percent female and 88 percent over the age of 25, and awarded the movie a so-so "B" CinemaScore. Add in the movie's middling reviews, and it's likely that Focus falls off at a steady rate over the next few weeks. It could get to $60 million, but probably won't go much higher than that.
Kingsman: The Secret Service took second place at the box office for the third weekend in a row. The movie eased 35 percent to $11.9 million, which brings its 17-day total to $85.8 million. Kingsman now appears on track to earn at least $105 million by the end of its run.
In third place, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water added $10.8 million, which is off 35 percent from last weekend. The movie has now earned $139.9 million total, and is on track to wrap up between $160 and $170 million.
After leading the box office for the past two weeks, Fifty Shades of Grey fell to fourth place with $10.6 million (down 53 percent). Through 17 days, the movie has earned $147.4 million, and is tracking to finish its run around $165 million.
Playing at 2,666 locations, The Lazarus Effect opened in fifth place with $10.2 million. That's on the low end of producer Jason Blum's movies, though it is at least better than 2013's Dark Skies ($8.2 million). It's also a bit lower than Relativity Media's Oculus, which opened to $12 million last April.
In the past 18 months or so, original horror has been a very tough sell; the days of routine $20-million-plus debuts seem to be over. Still, there seems to be a solid business model here: make the movies for next-to-nothing, hit $10 million or so with a modest marketing effort, and close in the $25 to $35 million range. The Lazarus Effect is going to wind up on the low end of that—probably around $25 million.
The movie's audience was 52 percent female and 60 percent under the age of 25. They awarded the movie a "C-" CinemaScore, which is pretty standard for this genre.
Coming off their opening weekends, McFarland, USA and The DUFF fell 29 percent and 37 percent, respectively. Through 10 days, McFarland, USA has earned $22 million, while The DUFF has grossed $19.8 million.
In its seventh weekend in wide release, American Sniper eased 26 percent to $7.4 million. The blockbuster war drama has now taken in $330.8 million at the domestic box office; next weekend, it will pass The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1 to become the highest-grossing movie from 2014.
Coming off Julianne Moore's Best Actress win at last Sunday's Academy Awards, Still Alice expanded to 1,318 locations and earned an estimated $2.7 million. That's the widest release for a Sony Classics movie in over six years. To date, Still Alice has grossed just shy of $12 million, and will ultimately wind up earning quite a bit more than fellow Classics titles Foxcatcher ($12 million) and Whiplash ($12.3 million and counting).
Best Picture winner Birdman expanded to 1,213 locations and earned $1.92 million this weekend. The movie is currently available to watch at home, which is likely where the biggest Oscar boost will take place. To date, Birdman has earned $40.2 million, which is a bit below 2011 Best Picture winner The Artist ($44.7 million).
Playing at 384 locations, A La Mala opened to $1.4 million this weekend. That's a pretty standard debut for a Pantelion movie; ultimately, look for this to wind up in the $3 to $4 million range.
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• 'Focus' to Pickpocket $20-Million-Plus This Weekend
• Moviegoers Flee From 'Fifty Shades'
This Timeframe in Past Years:
• 2014 - Neeson Beats Jesus, 'Frozen' Hits $1 Billion
• 2013 - 'Jack' Not Very 'Giant'
• 2012 - Little 'Lorax' Is Box Office Giant
• 2011 - 'Rango' Moseys Into Top Spot
• 2010 - 'Shutter Island' Hangs On, 'Cop Out,' 'Crazies' Debut Decently
• 2009 - 'Madea' Gives 'Jonas Brothers' a Lickin'
• 2008 - 'Semi-Pro' Can't Jump
• 2007 - 'Wild Hogs' Easily Ride to the Top
• 2006 - '16 Blocks' Gets Clocked by 'Madea'
• 2005 - 'Pacifier' Packs Them In
• Weekend Box Office Results
• 2015 Domestic Box Office