The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water opened to a massive $55.4 million, which is one of the best debuts ever in the month of February.
The other new releases weren't so hot: the Wachowskis' Jupiter Ascending opened below $20 million, while Seventh Son fell short of $10 million.
The Top 12 earned $136.8 million, which is roughly on par with the same weekend last year. Look for a big jump next weekend when Fifty Shades of Grey and Kingsman: The Secret Service hit theaters.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water's $55.4 million debut is up 73 percent from the first SpongeBob's $32 million opening. It ranks fifth all-time in the month of February behind Valentine's Day ($56.3 million). It couldn't quite reach the same level as last year's The LEGO Movie and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), but its impressive that it came as close as it did.
This is a stunning result for a brand that arguably hit its peak a decade ago, and Paramount and Nickelodeon deserve credit for making some very savvy choices throughout the entire process here. Recognizing that a traditionally hand-drawn SpongeBob movie wasn't going to cut it, they chose to differentiate this movie by adding a live-action/CGI section. While that represents a fairly small portion of the movie—less than 50 percent—it accounted for the overwhelming majority of the marketing campaign.
They also gave super powers to SpongeBob and his friends, which allowed them to piggyback on—and satirize—the current superhero movie craze. Add this on top of the show's trademark humor, and there was plenty here to interest parents (a key to success with family entertainment).
It's also worth noting that this is the second year in a row that a family-friendly movie over-performed on the first weekend of February (last year, of course, was The LEGO Movie). It's unclear if this is just a coincidence, or if this is actually a great time to release a family movie; regardless, it's something to keep in mind when Illumination Entertainment's Untitled Pets Project opens around the same date next year.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water's audience was 53 percent male and 60 percent under the age of 25. They awarded the movie a "B" CinemaScore, which is below-average for this genre. Still, with zero competition for the next four weeks, The SpongeBob Movie will almost certainly earn over $150 million total.
After holding the top spot for the past three weeks, American Sniper dropped down to second place this weekend with $23.3 million (down 24 percent). That ranks 12th all-time among fourth weekends, and is the biggest one since The Avengers in 2012.
American Sniper has now earned $281.4 million, and will soon pass The Matrix Reloaded to move up to second all-time among R-rated movies behind The Passion of the Christ ($370.3 million). It's also as much as the combined earnings of all of the other 2014 Best Picture nominees. American Sniper now appears on track to earn around $350 million total.
Continued with a look at 'Jupiter Ascending' and 'Seventh Son' >>
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• 'SpongeBob' To Take Down 'Sniper' on First Weekend of February
• 'American Sniper' Adds $30 Million in Third Weekend
This Timeframe in Past Years:
• 2014 - Everything Is Awesome For 'The LEGO Movie'
• 2013 - 'Identity Thief' Cashes Big Check
• 2012 - Moviegoers Say "I Do" to 'The Vow,' Check In to 'Safe House'
• 2011 - 'Just,' 'Justin,' 'Juliet' Jumpin'
• 2010 - 'Valentine's Day' Massacres Presidents' Day Record
• 2009 - 'He's Just' a Hit Over Busy Weekend
• 2007 - 'Norbit' Out-Grosses 'Hannibal'
• 2006 - 'Pink Panther' Slinks Past 'Destination'
• 2005 - 'Hitch' Scores Romantic Comedy Record
• Weekend Box Office Results
• 2014 Domestic Box Office