'Jem', 'Kasbah' & 'Witch Hunter' Flop Putting 'The Martian' Back On Top
The Martian and Goosebumps swap spots at the top of this weekend's box office, and Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies settles into third. Despite four new wide releases, the 43rd weekend of 2015 looks a lot like the 42nd as none of the new releases could muster any better than fourth place. As a result, the top twelve was down 7.4% from last year when Ouija managed to bring in the genre audience this weekend's offerings failed to deliver.

Vin Diesel's The Last Witch Hunter suggests the Fast and Furious star isn't much of a box office draw without his Furious family and a couple of musical bombs prove to be not only two of the worst openings of 2015, but of all-time given their theater count. And the latest in the Paranormal Activity franchise is unable to find much traction as Paramount tested a new release strategy, the overall results of which are still a little difficult to sort.

Let's first look at our top three as Ridley Scott's The Martian took the #1 spot with an estimated $15.9 million in its fourth weekend in release. Last weekend the stranded-on-Mars-sci-fi slid to second in favor of Sony's Goosebumps, but as the Jack Black-led children's horror dips into second with a solid hold and an estimated $15.5 million, Scott's Martian is number one for the third time in four weekends in release. The film is now $11.4 million shy from becoming the 77-year-old director's Ridley Scott.

In third is Bridge of Spies, Spielberg's fourth teaming with star Tom Hanks, which dropped only 26% and took in an estimated $11.3 million, bringing its cume to $32.5 million. However, despite positive reviews and an "A" CinemaScore, the film isn't necessarily a breakout when it comes to the film collaborations of Hanks and Spielberg. Compared to previous Hanks and Spielberg collaborations it is coming in dead last, behind even The Terminal by $9 million as it has yet to top the 2004 release after ten days in release in the same number of theaters.

The first of the weekend's new releases to show up in the top ten is Diesel's The Last Witch Hunter with an estimated $10.8 million, well below even the most pessimistic of predictions. I wavered back-and-forth making my predictions as I scouted past releases in the same time frame and similar genre releases. As much as my gut was telling me this would finish somewhere in the $13 million range, I let Diesel's Furious fame and 95+ million Facebook fans sway my decision. The result was slightly more than half of my $20 million prediction. I've got to learn to stick to my gut instinct.

Witch Hunter has a reported budget somewhere in the $75-80 million range and to go along with its slight domestic performance, Lionsgate is reporting an estimated $13.4 million coming in from 53 international territories for a $26.1 million global performance. Don't expect too much from its second weekend either as the "B-" CinemaScore suggest a second weekend drop around 53% or so.

Coming in sixth with an estimated $8.2 million and a lackluster "C" CinemaScore is Paramount's Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, which opened this weekend in 1,227 fewer theaters than the previous, fifth installment Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. The budget for the film is said to be in the mid-teens, making it the most expensive Paranormal Activity to date, but still a small enough budget Paramount and Jason Blum's Blumhouse won't be losing much sleep over the fact this is the weakest, domestic wide opening for any film in the Paranormal franchise by more than $10 million.

The reason for fewer theaters comes as Paramount's decision to shorten the window from theatrical to On Demand. The film will arrive on VOD once it's playing in fewer than 300 theaters. With that comes an agreement to share a portion of the VOD sales with participating theaters up to 90 days from its theatrical opening. The problem now is Paramount most likely didn't plan on the film playing in so few theaters to begin with. After all, it's one thing to open in 2,800+ theaters, as did The Marked Ones, and dipping below 300 theaters in your fifth weekend in release. However, opening in nearly half the number of theaters means cutting that theater count much sooner, widening the number of days the studio will be splitting VOD profits with participating theater chains.

On the plus side, Ghost Dimension is outpacing The Marked Ones internationally by 4%, opening in 33 international markets and grossing an estimated $18 million, for a $26.2 million worldwide cume.

Paramount intends to use the same release strategy with Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse next weekend. It will be interesting to see how that turns out. As well, it will be interesting to see if they release VOD sales information in an attempt to prove the strategy worked, though I won't hold my breath.

Next we come to two of the year's biggest flops, Jem and the Holograms and Rock the Kasbah. I went as low as I comfortably could with my sub-$5 million predictions on both of these new titles, but even that proved generous as neither title managed to top even $1.6 million this weekend.

Coming in with an estimated $1.5 million from 2,012 theaters, Rock the Kasbah sports a paltry $750 per theater average. You might think that's bad, and it's certainly not good. In fact, that's the fifth worst opening ever for a film playing in more than 2,000 theaters, just a bit worse than August's We are Your Friends in fact. But it wasn't the worst the weekend had to offer.

Tallying a mere $547 per theater average from 2,413 theaters, Universal's Jem and the Holograms brought in an estimated $1.3 million, the fourth worst opening for a film in more than 2,000 theaters and the worst for a film playing in more than 2,400 theaters. Despite the lackluster result, the financial picture for Universal isn't at all troubling as the film was reportedly made on only a $5 million budget.

Universal, however, didn't find much success elsewhere either. The studio saw their expansion of Steve Jobs met with a whisper. I saw predictions as high as $20 million as the studio added 2,433 theaters, but $7.2 million is all the Oscar contender could muster. Additionally, last weekend's new release, Crimson Peak, dipped a predictable 57.7% for an estimated $5.5 million, bringing the cume for the Guillermo del Toro-directed gothic romance to $22.4 million. Overseas the film added another $7.8 million, bringing the worldwide cume to $49 million.

On the limited side of things, Focus took home the per theater crown with Suffragette, which brought in an estimated $77,000 from four theaters for a $19,250 per theater average. Abramorama's Heart of a Dog brought in an estimated $14,750 from one theater and A24 expanded Room into 23 theaters for an estimated $254,357 and a $11,059 per theater average.

Next weekend sees the release of Burnt starring Bradley Cooper as The Weinstein Co. decided to forgo a limited release this weekend and will go wide with the culinary drama in more than 2,400 theaters on October 30. Joining it will be WB's Our Brand is Crisis starring Sandra Bullock and the aforementioned Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse.

You can browse the complete weekend results right here and we'll have weekend actuals Monday afternoon.

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