Update, Saturday 2:20AM: Walt Disney’s Avengers: Age of Ultron is still mind-controlling the masses, pulling in a super Friday of $21.9M, which is just 25% off of 2012’s Avengers’ second Friday. Ultron continues to rule over the bulk of business on the B.O. chart, while eight new indie releases step on each others’ toes (Jack Black’s The D Trainfrom IFC is derailed outside of the top 10, while Arnie’s Maggie can’t scare anybody into the theater). Ultron‘s steep Friday-to-Friday fall is largely attributed to its opening day being pumped up by $27.6M Thursday previews. Insiders forecast a 50% upswing into Saturday with a second weekend of $76.8M and a 10-day total of $310.6M, putting the Marvel sequel 17% behind Avengers at the same point in its run. Showtimes continue to be plentiful, read Hollywood Arclight (32), Bellevue Lincoln Square Cinema in Bellevue, WA (25), AMC Northpark in Dallas (23), AMC Lincoln Square NYC (18) — but it’s apparent that everyone saw the film last weekend (a 4:45PM showing at the 800 seat ArcLight Cinerama Dome on Friday drew about 30 people). Ultron continues to hold its sales drivers: 364 Imax venues, 400 premium large format theaters and 2,761 3D engagements.
Mother’s Day weekend has launched some healthy female skewing films in recent years which have legged out during the summer, i.e. 2013’s The Great Gatsby ($50.1M), 2012’s Dark Shadows ($29.7M) and 2011’s Bridesmaids ($26.2M) — but not this year. Warner Bros./MGM–New Line’s chick road comedy Hot Pursuit not only looks to park at the lower end of expectations with an industry estimated FSS of $12.5M, but also received a smeared lipstick C+ CinemaScore. That projected bow is lower than what Witherspoon’s 2012 romance actioner This Means War generated over President’s Day weekend ($17.4M/domestic B.O. $54.7M). Industry beancounters gave that film a hard time when it opened given their high expectations for the film: A romantic comedy with an actress of her stature, coupled with burgeoning headliner hunks Thomas Hardy and Chris Pine should have made $20M-plus bow with a mid-February release date. Witherspoon’s last sour CinemaScore was a C- for 2010’s James L. Brooks comedy How Do You Know. The upside for Hot Pursuit is that its budget was low at $35M and Warner Bros.’ risk was mitigated (MGM plopped down 50%, Rat-Pac 12.5% and WB 37.5%).
It’s really unfortunate that Hot Pursuit doesn’t seem to be working stateside. It’s apparent that Witherspoon was vying to bust out of her romantic comedy zone and try her hand at a zany road trip pic playing a high-strung cop. As a producer, she knows which way the wind is blowing. With stellar production credits like the Oscar-nominated Wild($52.5M) and Gone Girl ($368.1M) she knows what the growing female moviegoing audience craves and is snapping up edgy properties before they hit book shelves. While comedies are typically critic-proof, finding a positive review for Hot Pursuit is like finding an eye contact on a busy ballroom dance floor. The pic’s Rotten Tomatoes score is stinky 6%. Critics just don’t find it funny (Pete Hammond demanded his 87 minutes back in Deadline’s review). However, what stings the most with a pic like Hot Pursuit, isn’t a pan from The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, rather when a glossy — specifically US Weekly — clearly aimed at the film’s femme demo blasts the comedy for being a “Brainless and Lazy Mess”. Sources tell me that the auds who showed up to Hot Pursuit came for Witherspoon and Vergara. The audience apparently skewed far older than 30, however, Witherspoon has consistently drawn an older female crowd in recent years. One rival studio executive theorized that Witherspoon could have had a better co-star than Vergara: “TV stars don’t always translate to film and she’s no Melissa McCarthy”. What is obvious is that most women are stoked by R-rated raunchy comedies, i.e. Bridesmaids ($169.1M), The Heat ($159.6M), Sex and the City ($152.6M), Tammy ($84.5M), not PG-13 ones like Hot Pursuit.
The film might have earned a C+ CinemaScore, but Witherspoon and Vergara’s promotional efforts for the film were A+, rivaling Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart’s tubthumping for Get Hard. Witherspoon timed the launch of her fashion label Draper James with the film. Vergara was lauded with a star on the Hollywood Walk of fame. They both made a stop at the Met Gala and were relentless on social media.
A24’s Ex Machina continued to resonate in its expansion from 1,279 to 2,004 theaters seeing a 21% spike on Friday and an anticipated 27% uptick in its fifth frame. Domestic total should exceed $14M. Weinstein Co.’s Woman in Goldcontinues to stay afloat in the top 10 with an projected 10% weekend dip. Fox Searchlight’s second weekend expansion of Far From The Madding Crowd is also reaping fortune with a projected FSS of $638K, up close to threefold from its first weekend. Despite Arnold Schwarzenneger turning a page from his cookie cutter action films into his smart arthouse zombie flick Maggie, limited audiences haven’t caught on yet shelling out $45K tonight at 79 sites. Ditto for IFC’s Jack Black comedyThe D Train which is severely underperforming at 1,009 playdates with an industry estimate of $105K on Friday. China’s The Left Ear is enjoying a per theater average of $7,054 while Sony Pictures Classics’ fashion designer biopic Saint Laurent, which bowed at Cannes last year and became France’s Oscar foreign language entry, has sewn up a PTA of $6,778.
Top 10 per industry estimates for the weekend of May 8-10, 2015:
1). Avengers: Age of Ultron (DIS), 4,276 theaters (0) / $21.9M (-74%) Fri. / 3-day cume: $76.8M (-60%) /Total cume: $310.6M/ Wk 2
2). Hot Pursuit (WB/MGM-New Line), 3,003 theaters / $4.2M* Fri. / 3-day cume:$12.5M / Wk 1
*includes $450K Thursday previews
3). The Age of Adaline (LGF), 3,070 theaters (+79)/ $1.49M Fri. (-33%)/ 3-day cume: $5.17M (-20%) / Total cume: $31.1M/ Wk 3
4). Furious 7 (UNI), 3,004 theaters (-301) / $1.28M Fri. (-41%) / 3-day cume:$4.96M (-25%) / Total cume: $338.1M/ Wk 6
5). Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 (SONY), 3,201 theaters (-347)/ $1.17M Fri. (-34%)/ 3-day cume: $4.9M (-17%)/ Total cume: $57.8M / Wk 4
6). Ex Machina (A24), 2,004 theaters (+725) / $878K Fri. (+21%) / 3-day cume:$2.9M (+27%)/ Total cume: $14.3M / Wk 5
7). Home (FOX/DW), 2,495 theaters (-357) / $599K Fri. (-32%) / 3-day cume:$2.65M (-24%)/ Total cume: $162M / Wk 7
8). Cinderella (DIS), 1,034 theaters (-377) / $521K Fri. (-47%) / 3-day cume:$2.1M (-23%) / Total cume: $196.9M / Wk 9
9). The Longest Ride (FOX), 1,464 theaters (-651) / $417K Fri. (-31%)/ 3-day cume: $1.5M (-12%) / Total cume: $35.4M / Wk 5
10). Woman in Gold (TWC), 1,080 theaters (-46) / $374K Fri. (-22%) / 3-day cume: $1.45M (-10%) / Total cume: $26.8M / Wk 6
Far From the Madding Crowd (FSL), 99 theaters (+89) / $195K Fri. (+261%)/ 3-day cume: $638K (+287%) / Total cume: $878K/Wk 2
Piku (YRF), 118 theaters / $180K Fri. / 3-day cume: $551K /Wk 1
The Water Diviner (WB), 385 theaters (0) / $134K Fri. (-38%)/ 3-day cume:$497K (-25%) / Total cume: $3.17M/Wk 3
The D Train (IFC), 1,009 theaters / $150K Fri. / 3-day cume: $406K /Wk 1
Noble (ASP), 150 theaters / $105K Fri. / 3-day cume: $270K /Wk 1
5 Flights Up (FOCW), 87 theaters / $73K Fri. / 3-day cume: $257K /Wk 1
Maggie (RSA), 79 theaters / $45K Fri. / 3-day cume: $131K /Wk 1
Sister Code (IND), 100 theaters / $30K Fri. / 3-day cume: $107K /Wk 1
The Left Ear (IND), 13 theaters / $28K Fri. /PTA: $7,054/ 3-day cume: $92K /Wk 1
Saint Laurent (SPC), 4 theaters / $9K Fri. /PTA: $6,778/ 3-day cume: $27K /Wk 1
Disney’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron from Marvel is expected to have a lock on No. 1 with industry projections seeing a 55% to 60% drop from its $191.3M opening for $76.5M-$86M. Ultron is expected to see a steeper decline today due to the fact that its first Friday of $84.4M was bolstered by $27.6M Thursday night shows which repped 14% of its weekend haul. However, the superhero pic could see a bigger Friday-to-Saturday boost than a week ago since Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather are keeping it calm this weekend.
Also bowing today is IFC’s Jack Black comedy The D Train in 1,009 locations.