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'Fifty Shades', 'SpongeBob', 'Kingsman', & 'American Sniper' Lead Third Best February On Record; 2015 YTD Box Office Remains at 5-Year High on March 03, 2015

feb15.pngBy Shawn Robbins

February's domestic box office closed out over $763.5 million, marking a 9 percent improvement over the same month last year. It also represents the third best February on record behind 2012 ($818.3 million) and 2009 ($770.2 million).

To no surprise, Fifty Shades of Grey was the month's top grossing flick as it rang up $145 million in its first 16 days of release. The first adaptation of the popular book series claimed the biggest February opening weekend in history with an $85.2 million 3-day bow, as well as the President's Day weekend record with just over $93 million in that extended 4-day frame.

In addition, Grey posted the fourth highest debut ever for an R-rated pic (trailing only The Matrix Reloaded, American Sniper, and The Hangover Part II). For distributor Universal, it was their largest opening weekend in history outside of the Fast & Furious franchise.

Arguably almost as impressive, though, were two other February releases. Paramount's The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water blew away expectations with its $55.4 million opening weekend earlier in the month -- 73 percent higher than its 2004 predecessor. That well-received sequel has gone on to prove leggy as it accounted for $136.6 million through the end of the month.

The other standout performer has proven to be Fox's Kingsman: The Secret Service. Its early international release and positive reviews complemented a solid marketing campaign in North America, leading to perfect counter-programming over the Valentine's/President's Day weekend and very healthy word of mouth ever since. The graphic novel adaptation continues director Matthew Vaughn's winning streak in the genre following X-Men: First Class and the original Kick-Ass. The stylized tribute, and often send-up, to spy movies bowed to $36.2 million and totaled a strong $82.6 million through February 28.

Kingsman has an excellent shot at topping the $102.5 million final domestic haul of 2003's Daredevil, with an outside chance at approaching Ghost Rider's $115.8 million back in 2007 (both of those comic book properties similarly opened over President's Day weekend).

Meanwhile, blockbuster holdover American Sniper added $85.4 million to its massive run. That film's total domestic gross stood at $328.9 million through the final day of the month, and will overtake both The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 ($336.7 million) and Guardians of the Galaxy ($333.2 million) as 2014's top earner before this coming weekend is up.

Other notable performers in February included Paddington's continued legs, positive word of mouth for modest opener McFarland, USA, The Imitation Game's strong awards season run, and The DUFF's sleeper-like success. Below you'll find February's top ten calendar grosses, including new releases and holdovers.

Year-to-date, 2015 remains 11 percent ahead of last year's $1.77 billion total box office earned through the first two months. As with January's and February's monthly grosses, that makes 2015's YTD haul the third highest ever behind 2010 ($1.81 billion) and 2009 ($1.79 billion).

Looking ahead, March promises to continue the year-over-year improvement with a new high profile film set for release every weekend this month. Neill Blomkamp's Chappie is tracking to open well (around the $20 million mark) over the March 6 frame thanks to strong interest from young males and fans of the filmmaker's District 9 and Elysium. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is also poised to benefit from its predecessor's goodwill over the coming weekend, while Unfinished Business is expected to debut modestly.

The weekend of March 13 brings Disney's latest potential hit in Cinderella, which should build on the studio's incredible success in revitalizing various fairy tale stories (Into the Woods, Maleficent, Frozen, Oz the Great and PowerfulAlice in Wonderland) in recent years, as well as the Liam Neeson-Ed Harris thriller, Run All Night.

Later in the month, March 20 brings the sequel to Divergent, dubbed The Divergent Series: Insurgent, as well as the Christian-themed Do You Believe? and The Gunman. The final weekend of the month will see comedy superstars Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart team up for Get Hard. DreamWorks' Home opens over that same frame.

The average March over the past five years has yielded $817 million in ticket sales. We think that figure's attainable given the variety of appealing options moviegoers will have on top of February's holdovers.

February 2015's Top 10 Box Office Performers

1. Fifty Shades of Grey ($145 million, 16 days)
2. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water ($136.6 million, 23 days)
3. American Sniper ($85.4 million, 28 days)
4. Kingsman: The Secret Service ($82.6 million, 16 days)
5. Jupiter Ascending ($42.5 million, 23 days)
6. Paddington ($21.1 million, 28 days)
7. McFarland, USA ($19.8 million, 9 days)
8. The Imitation Game ($19.3 million, 28 days)
9. The DUFF ($18.3 million, 9 days)
10. Seventh Son ($16.6 million, 23 days)

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NORTH AMERICA: Weekend Actuals: 'Focus' Leads Lackluster Weekend with $18.7M; 'The Lazarus Effect' Debuts in Fifth with $10.2M on March 02, 2015

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By Daniel Garris

As was widely expected, Warner's Focus debuted in first place this weekend with $18.69 million. However, the romantic heist film starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie did perform a bit below pre-release expectations. Focus opened a lackluster 32 percent below the $27.52 million start of 2013's After Earth, though it should be noted that Focus was far less expensive than After Earth and will likely hold up significantly better than After Earth did after opening weekend. With that said, the debut of Focus further suggests that Smith's drawing power at the box office is nowhere near the level it once was.

Focus debuted with $6.45 million on Friday (which included an estimated $900,000 from Thursday night shows), increased 18 percent on Saturday to take in $7.63 million and declined 40 percent on Sunday to claim $4.59 million. That placed the film's opening weekend to Friday ratio at 2.90 to 1 (though it should be noted that Friday's grosses were deflated a bit in general by winter weather in parts of the country). The film received a respectable B rating on CinemaScore. The audience breakdown for Focus skewed towards female moviegoers (53 percent) and heavily towards moviegoers over the age of 25 (88 percent).

It was a tight race for spots two through five this weekend, as second place and fifth place were separated by just $1.68 million.

Fox's Kingsman: The Secret Service took in $11.88 million to claim second place for a third consecutive weekend. The Matthew Vaughn directed graphic novel adaptation starring Colin Firth was down a very solid 35 percent from last weekend. Kingsman: The Secret Service continues to inch closer to the $100 million domestic mark with a stronger than expected 17-day take of $85.83 million. That places the film an impressive 46 percent ahead of the $58.82 million 17-day gross of 2010's Red.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water held steady in third place this weekend with $10.82 million. Thanks in part to facing no new direct competition for family audiences, Paramount's 3D animated film stabilized nicely this weekend, as it was down 35 percent from last weekend. The SpongeBob Movie continues to exceed expectations with a strong 24-day take of $139.94 million and is running 32 percent ahead of the $106.34 million 24-day take of 2011's Rango.

After leading the box office each of the past two weekends, Fifty Shades of Grey fell three spots to land in fourth place with $10.56 million. Universal's successful erotic romantic drama was down a sharp 53 percent from last weekend, but showed relative signs of stabilization after last weekend's massive percentage decline. While it's proving to be very front-loaded, Fifty Shades of Grey has grossed a very strong $147.39 million in 17 days, which places it a sizable 47.5 percent ahead of the $99.92 million 17-day take of 2010's Valentine's Day.

The Lazarus Effect debuted in fifth place with $10.20 million. The low-budget PG-13 rated horror film from Relativity had been widely expected to open slightly higher, but was still off to a solid start this weekend given its cost. It should also be noted that online activity levels before the film's release were soft by horror film standards. The Lazarus Effect opened 15 percent below the $12.01 million start of Relativity's Oculus last April.

The Lazarus Effect opened with $3.79 million on Friday (which included an estimated $350,000 from Thursday night shows), increased a healthy 15 percent on Saturday to take in $4.37 million and declined 53 percent on Sunday to gross $2.05 million. That gave the film an opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.69 to 1, which is a promising sign for a horror film. On the other hand, The Lazarus Effect received a C- rating on CinemaScore, which isn't the greatest early sign (even by horror film standards).

Disney's McFarland, USA held up very nicely in its second weekend, as it was down just 29 percent to place in sixth with $7.84 million. The sports drama starring Kevin Costner continues to perform on the high end of expectations with $22.02 million in ten days. That places the film 14 percent ahead of the $19.36 million ten-day take of last year's Draft Day (which fell 42 percent in its second weekend to gross $5.71 million). This weekend's hold is a strong sign for McFarland, USA going forward.

Warner's American Sniper continued to hold up very well this weekend with a seventh place take of $7.39 million. The blockbuster Clint Eastwood directed Best Picture nominee starring Bradley Cooper was down a slim 26 percent from last weekend. American Sniper has grossed a massive $330.82 million to date and is now on the verge of surpassing the $336.72 million current total gross of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 to become the highest grossing release of 2014 domestically.

The DUFF also held up well this weekend with an eighth place gross of $6.87 million. The low-budget PG-13 comedy from CBS Films and Lionsgate was down 36 percent from last weekend's stronger than expected start. The DUFF continues to exceed expectations with $19.77 million in ten days. That places the film 19.5 percent ahead of the $16.55 million ten-day take of last year's That Awkward Moment (which fell 40 percent in its second weekend to gross $5.24 million).

GLOBAL REPORT: 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Continues to Dominate as it Nears $500M; 'Big Hero 6' Opens Big in China; 'Focus' Takes $31.3M Day-and-Date Debut on March 01, 2015

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by Daniel Loria

Fifty Shades of Grey brought in $36 million from 59 territories over the weekend, taking its overseas total up to $338.4 million. South Korea took a #4 debut with $1.8 million at 512 dates. Universal is happy with the result considering the novel was not a best-seller in South Korea and the late February release was slotted in order to benefit from the publicity of the film's worldwide opening. Top market for the erotic thriller include the UK ($46.9M), Germany ($33.7M), France ($24.5M), Brazil ($24.2M), and Italy ($21.2M). Fifty Shades of Grey has grossed a total of $486.2 million worldwide and is expected to cross the $500 million mark mid-week.

Kingsman: The Secret Service collected $25.8 million over the weekend. South Korea finished strong in its third frame, claiming the top spot at the box office as it adds to its running cume of $25.4 million. New markets this weekend include a #2 finish in Mexico with a $1.75 million bow from 1,050 screens. Spain took #3 with a $1.36 million debut across 385 screens. Italy also opened in third place with $1.2 million from 263 screens. Kingsman: The Secret Service has grossed a total of $124.6 million outside of North America and $210.2 million globally.

Big Hero 6 scored the biggest opening weekend of all time for a Disney animation release in China with a $14.8 million debut. It accounted for more than two thirds of the film's overseas earnings this weekend, as Big Hero 6 netted $21.6 million from 25 territories. The film has now grossed a total of $351.3 million overseas and $572.1 million worldwide.

American Sniper continues its miracle box office run after adding $19.5 million from 4,545 screens in 59 markets, making it the highest grossing Clint Eastwood directed film of all time overseas with a $139.1 million cume outside of North America. The film took a #2 debut at 333 screens in Germany with $3.7 million. The film kept the top spot in France once again with a $4.5 million take from 461 screens, only a 27% slide from last weekend's debut. Japan also remains at #1 after a 19% dip, accounting for a $2.3 million weekend at 338 screens. Top markets include Italy ($23.1M), UK ($20.2M), Australia ($14.8M), and France ($12.4M). American Sniper expands to Russia next weekend with $470.2 million from global box office receipts already in the bank.

The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water expanded to Italy and Finland over the weekend as it finished its latest frame overseas with $14.2 million from 6,947 locations in 46 territories. Italy opened at #1 with $2.3 million from 360 locations, 67% ahead of the Big Hero 6 debut. Strong holds in Germany ($2.2M Weekend, $7.7M Total), France ($2.1M Weekend, $6M Total), and Brazil ($1.1.M Weekend, $14.8M Total) round out the weekend's top performers. The latest Spongebob film has grossed $96.3 million overseas and $236.6 million worldwide.

Focus took a $31.3 million global day-and-date debut after earning $12.2 million from 31 overseas markets. The Will Smith vehicle enjoyed success in Russia, where it opened to $3.1 million at 1,265 screens. The film still has 70% of its overseas markets left to open, including releases in Germany, Italy, Australia, and Mexico next weekend.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opened in the UK with a $5.85 million tally from 871 locations, outperforming the original by 170%. Australia posted a $3.05 million debut, 15% ahead of the original, while New Zealand secured the top spot at the box office with a $496k bow from 162 screens, 20% above its predecessor. The overseas total from its first three markets adds up to $9.4 million.

The Oscar bump amounted to a $5.8 million weekend overseas for Birdman. The film opened in France to $1.6 million from 159 screens. Birdman has now grossed $46 million overseas and $86.2 million globally.

Jupiter Ascending grossed $3.5 million from 2,925 screens in 64 markets over the weekend. The film's top markets include Russia ($8.9M), UK ($6.4M), France ($6.4M), and Brazil ($5.8M) as it prepares for its release in China next weekend. Jupiter Ascending has grossed a total of $81.1 million overseas and $124.2 million globally.

The Theory of Everything earned $3.2 million in 46 territories thanks to an expansion that included openings in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa and Turkey. Russia impressed by netting $235k in limited release at 110 dates, the biggest opening for a film on less than 150 screens for the last five years. The biopic has grossed $75.1 million overseas and $110.2 million worldwide.

Penguins of Madagascar added another $2.5 million to its overseas tally this weekend. The animated film has grossed $281.6 million overseas and $364.3 million globally.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb collected $2.2 million over the weekend. The film has grossed $232.6 million overseas with Japan set to realize on March 20. The film has grossed a total of $344.5 million worldwide.

 

NORTH AMERICA: Weekend Estimates: 'Focus' Leads Lackluster Frame with $19.1M; 'The Lazarus Effect' Debuts in Fifth with $10.6M on February 28, 2015

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Sunday Update: As was widely expected, Warner's Focus debuted in first place this weekend with an estimated $19.1 million. However, the romantic heist film starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie did perform slightly below pre-release expectations. Focus opened a lackluster 31 percent below the $27.52 million start of 2013's After Earth, though it should be noted that Focus was far less expensive than After Earth and will likely hold up significantly better than After Earth did after opening weekend. With that said, the debut of Focus further suggests that Smith's drawing power at the box office is nowhere near the level it once was.

Focus debuted with $6.47 million on Friday (which included an estimated $900,000 from Thursday night shows), increased 18 percent on Saturday to take in $7.66 million and is estimated to decline 35 percent on Sunday to claim $4.98 million. That places the film's estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio at a very solid 2.95 to 1 (though it should be noted that Friday's grosses were deflated a bit in general by winter weather in parts of the country). The film received a respectable B rating on CinemaScore. The audience breakdown for Focus skewed towards female moviegoers (53 percent) and heavily towards moviegoers over the age of 25 (88 percent).

Focus took in $2.08 million from IMAX locations, which represented 10.9 percent of the film's overall gross this weekend.

It was a tight race for places two through five this weekend, as second place and fifth place were separated by just an estimated $1.15 million.

Fox's Kingsman: The Secret Service took in an estimated $11.75 million to claim second place for a third consecutive weekend. The Matthew Vaughn directed graphic novel adaptation starring Colin Firth was down a very solid 36 percent from last weekend. Kingsman: The Secret Service continues to inch closer to the $100 million domestic mark with a stronger than expected 17-day take of $85.69 million. That places the film an impressive 46 percent ahead of the $58.82 million 17-day gross of 2010's Red.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water held steady in third place this weekend with an estimated $11.2 million. Thanks in part to facing no new direct competition for family audiences, Paramount's 3D animated film stabilized nicely this weekend, as it was down 32 percent from last weekend. The SpongeBob Movie continues to exceed expectations with a strong 24-day take of $140.32 million and is running 32 percent ahead of the $106.34 million 24-day take of 2011's Rango.

After leading the box office each of the past two weekends, Fifty Shades of Grey fell three spots to land in fourth place with an estimated $10.93 million. Universal's successful erotic romantic drama was down a sharp 51 percent from last weekend, but showed relative signs of stabilization after last weekend's massive percentage decline. While it's proving to be very front-loaded, Fifty Shades of Grey has grossed a very strong $147.76 million in 17 days, which places it a sizable 48 percent ahead of the $99.92 million 17-day take of 2010's Valentine's Day.

The Lazarus Effect debuted in fifth place with an estimated $10.6 million. The low-budget PG-13 rated horror film from Relativity had been widely expected to open slightly higher, but was still off to a solid start this weekend given its cost. It should also be noted that online activity levels before the film's release were soft by horror film standards. The Lazarus Effect opened 12 percent below the $12.01 million start of Relativity's Oculus last April.

The Lazarus Effect opened with $3.8 million on Friday (which included an estimated $350,000 from Thursday night shows), increased a healthy 15.5 percent on Saturday to take in $4.39 million and is estimated to decline 45 percent on Sunday to gross an estimated $2.41 million. That gives the film an estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.79 to 1, which is very promising for a horror film. On the other hand, The Lazarus Effect received a C- rating on CinemaScore, which isn't the greatest early sign (even by horror film standards).

Disney's McFarland, USA held up very nicely in its second weekend, as it was down just 29 percent to place in sixth with an estimated $7.79 million. The sports drama starring Kevin Costner continues to perform on the high end of expectations with $21.98 million in ten days. That places the film 13.5 percent ahead of the $19.36 million ten-day take of last year's Draft Day (which fell 42 percent in its second weekend to gross $5.71 million). This weekend's hold is a strong sign for McFarland, USA going forward.

Warner's American Sniper continued to hold up very well this weekend with an estimated seventh place take of $7.7 million. The blockbuster Clint Eastwood directed Best Picture nominee starring Bradley Cooper was down a slim 23 percent from last weekend. American Sniper has grossed a massive $331.11 million to date and is now on the verge of surpassing the $336.71 million current total gross of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 to become the highest grossing release of 2014 domestically.

The DUFF also held up well this weekend with an estimated eighth place gross of $7.15 million. The low-budget PG-13 comedy from CBS Films and Lionsgate was down 34 percent from last weekend's stronger than expected start. The DUFF continues to exceed expectations with $20.05 million in ten days. That places the film 21 percent ahead of the $16.55 million ten-day take of last year's That Awkward Moment (which fell 40 percent in its second weekend to gross $5.24 million).

Saturday Update: Warner Bros. reports that Focus earned an estimated $6.47 million for its opening day, easily taking first place on Friday. The Will Smith-Margot Robbie con artist flick debuted just under Limitless' $6.6 million first day back in 2011. Unfortunately, early word of mouth appears very mixed as the film received a "B" CinemaScore and sits at a 66 percent user rating on Rotten Tomatoes this morning (where critics disapprove even more at 56 percent). Still, the film's adult-skewing appeal could balance out some of the early complaints about the film throughout the weekend. BoxOffice is projecting an opening frame of $18.5 million.

Relativity's The Lazarus Effect debuted to $3.8 million on Friday as it claimed second place for the day, nearly 24 percent lower than last year's Oculus. The horror pic's early buzz isn't heading in the right direction, though: only 33 percent of Rotten Tomatoes users approve of the film so far, while critics have given it an even lower 14 percent. Given the natural tendency for horror pics to drop off quickly, expect the same here. BoxOffice projects a $9.2 million opening weekend.

Fifty Shades of Grey slid into third place yesterday with $3.5 million, down another 56.5 percent from last Friday. The erotic drama has taken in $140.3 million domestically through 15 days of release, putting it 8 percent ahead of the original Twilight. BoxOffice projects a $9.9 million third weekend.

Fox's Kingsman: The Secret Service continues to display strong holding power as it eased 41 percent from last Friday to $3.12 million in fourth place. The graphic novel adaptation has earned an impressive $77.1 million domestically to date, putting it 1 percent ahead of Daredevil and 31 percent ahead of Jumper through their same release points. Kingsman will also surpass the latter film's final domestic gross of $80.2 million over the weekend. Look for a weekend total around $10.8 million.

Filling out the top five yesterday was The DUFF, down just 50 percent from opening day last week to $2.14 million. The sleeper hit's 8-day total stands at just over $15 million, putting it 15 percent ahead of the pace of That Awkward Moment. BoxOffice projects a $6.5 million weekend.

Three well-received holdovers fought for space just outside the top five yesterday. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water dropped 47.5 percent to $2.11 million, giving it a strong $131.2 total thus far and setting it on course for an $8.9 million frame.

McFarland, USA was off just 45 percent from opening day last week to $1.99 million, bringing its 8-day total to $16.2 million (in line with Draft Day's $15.8 million sum through the same point) as the latest Kevin Costner sports drama eyes a $6.8 million sophomore frame.

Meanwhile, American Sniper added another $1.9 million (off just 30 percent from last Friday), giving it $325.3 million in all domestically. The blockbuster flick should land around $7 million this weekend, and is currently on pace to surpass The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 by next weekend to officially become 2014's highest grossing release.

Check BoxOffice on Sunday for official weekend estimates from the studios.

Friday Update #2: Sources tell BoxOffice that Focus will be the #1 opening this weekend with a respectable $23 million. The Lazarus Effect is on pace for $12 million.

Check back tomorrow for updated projections and official studio figures.

Friday Update #1: Warner Bros. reports that Focus bowed to a solid $900,000 from Thursday pre-shows. Comparisons for con artist flicks are fairly slim, but last night's showing from the Will Smith/Margot Robbie pic was noticeably ahead of the $550,000 posted by Monuments Men last February and just under the $1.3 million of Gone Girl in October.

Prior to release, tracking had been suggesting an opening weekend north of $20 million to be likely. Last night's results back that up so far.

Also opening this weekend is The Lazarus Effect, which pulled a reported $350,000 from 8pm and later shows last night. By comparison, last April's Oculus earned $480,000 from Thursday night shows.

More as it comes.


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