By Daniel Garris
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 grossed $1.43 million on Thursday to lead the daily box office for a 21st straight day. With the release of Fox's Exodus: Gods and Kings today, Mockingjay - Part 1 is expected to fall to second place this weekend. The third installment of Lionsgate's blockbuster franchise was up 3 percent from Wednesday and down a solid 38 percent from last Thursday. Mockingjay - Part 1 was the week's top film with a weekly take of $28.07 million. That was down 58 percent from the previous week and brings the film's three-week total to $264.19 million. Mockingjay - Part 1 is running 23 percent behind the $343.83 million 21-day take of last year's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
Paramount's Interstellar was up one spot from Wednesday to move into second on Thursday with $0.694 million. The Christopher Nolan directed sci-fi film was up 1 percent over Wednesday and down a healthy 21 percent from last Thursday. Interstellar took fourth place this week with $10.64 million. The film was down 45 percent from last week and has grossed $161.29 million after 35 days of wide release. Interstellar will likely hold up well this weekend, before taking a significant hit from the arrival from Warner's The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies on Wednesday.
Warner's Horrible Bosses 2 was down one spot from Wednesday to land in third with $0.688 million. The R-rated comedy sequel fell 5 percent from Wednesday and 35 percent from last Thursday. Horrible Bosses 2 placed in third for the week with $11.49 million. That was down a respectable 43 percent from the previous frame and brings the film's 16-day total to $38.97 million. Horrible Bosses 2 is running a very disappointing 51 percent behind the $79.14 million 16-day take of 2011's Horrible Bosses.
Penguins of Madagascar held steady in fourth with $0.511 million. The 3D computer animated film from Fox and DreamWorks Animation was unchanged from Wednesday and was down just 21.5 percent from last Thursday. Penguins of Madagascar claimed second for the week with $13.05 million. That represented a 54 percent decline from the previous week and brings the film's 16-day total to $51.54 million. The film is running 12 percent behind the $58.76 million 16-day take of 2011's The Muppets.
Fellow 3D computer animated film Big Hero 6 rounded out Thursday's top five with $0.429 million. The successful Disney release was up 6 percent over Wednesday and down a slim 11 percent from last Thursday. Big Hero 6 placed in fifth for the week with $9.76 million. The film was down 53.5 percent from last week and has grossed a strong $179.18 million in 35 days.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies took home #1 openings in all of its 17 new markets. The film finished Thursday with $13.7 million from 28 overseas markets and is currently reporting a $26.6 million cume outside of North America.
The film scored the biggest opening of all time for a Warner Bros. release in Russia, hauling in $2.5 million from 2,285 screens. The Brazilian debut accounted for $1.3 million from 1,037 -a figure that goes up to $1.8 million after including previews. Mexico brought in $1.1 million from approximately 2,775 screens -not a bad figure considering the first leg of the country's soccer league final was broadcast on Wednesday night. Five Armies is already tracking 39% higher than Desolation of Smaug in Mexico. The film recorded the biggest opening day of the year in New Zealand with $529k. Eastern Europe rounds out new openings with a collective $1.5 million haul from 9 markets.
Second day results continue to bring good news as well. Germany added another $2.1 million from 1,442 screens to reach a $5.3 million two-day total. France brought in $1.5 million from 914 screens to reach a two-day total of $4.2 million.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies opens in the United Kingdom on Friday and expands to Japan on Saturday.
by Daniel Loria
Whatever pressure there was on Ridley Scott to follow up the success of his debut feature, The Duellists, a period piece that won the Best Debut Film at the 1977 Cannes Film Festival, was only multiplied by the release of his second film. Alien hit screens in 1979, only two years after Star Wars reignited the blockbuster potential of science-fiction films. Alien was a different kind of beast, however, a film many universes away from George Lucas's nascent family-friendly action-adventure saga. Rather than joining the string of derivative space operas immediately following Star Wars, Alien ushered in the renaissance of American science-fiction films in the 1980s by introducing more serious and adult elements. When Blade Runner followed Alien three years later, audiences around the world began to recognize Ridley Scott as a singular talent.
Scott is perhaps best known for making the sort of films that feature a fully realized diegetic world. His settings are often painstakingly detailed, giving locales otherwise limited to our imagination a grounded reality that makes them so engrossing on screen. He is a favorite among science-fiction aficionados for that very reason, but it's impossible to overlook how his talent has shaped the historical epics he's taken on in his career. The director's latest film, Exodus: Gods and Kings, brings his vision to ancient Egypt through the story of Moses. Exodus promises to provide audiences with another immersive-experience world best suited for the big screen.
Ridley Scott spoke to BOXOFFICE about his career and the making of Exodus just a day before he began shooting his next project, The Martian.
What was it about Exodus: Gods and Kings that drew you to making the film?
The character of Moses is so enormous, and I sat down to read Peter Chernin's screenplay with great curiosity. I didn't know anything about Moses's extraordinary life, other than the more obvious elements that are associated with him. I had no idea he was a military man, a commander of the Egyptian army, that he was important in the Egyptian hierarchy. I really got into it and found that it could be an amazing film and a great challenge to bring it to audiences today. So I climbed onto the project, and we went into the typical readjustment and rewriting from the original.
What made you go after Christian Bale for the role of Moses?
I met Christian years ago, and I've known him for a while now, and I've watched his bigger films, Batman and all his other roles that are better known. But there's another side to him that you can see in films like Out of the Furnace, where you can see who he is other than Batman. I really liked him in that western, 3:10 to Yuma, and watching him change over the years into a very powerful actor. What really blew me away was American Hustle, watching him really going for the character. By then I was already tracking him, and when I approached him with the idea of Exodus he just said, "Oh my God, really?" I had no idea if he would go for it, but he was challenged by it; it's a role that he really had to stretch himself to get his head around it, so he said, "Yeah, let's do it." It turned into one of my best relationships in making a film, I think.
You have a number of big historical epics on your résumé, all of them featuring a fully realized and detailed diegetic world- 1492: Conquest of Paradise, Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven. What lessons from those projects did you take into your approach to Exodus?
It's all relative. In fact, Kingdom of Heaven is not a million miles from Exodus. Gladiator touched on ethnic environments and a time that we can only associate with history books, and I loved doing 1492 with Gerard Depardieu. I love doing these period pieces; I love to create the universes. This project has the additional strong attraction that the Egyptians are architecturally just spectacular. It's the sort of stuff that baffles you and makes you say, "Where the hell did that come from?" The Greeks didn't influence them even though Greek architecture has influenced almost all forms of Western architecture over the centuries. The exotic architecture of the Egyptians, I think, is tied to their obsession with life and afterlife. So how that idealism is expressed through the pyramids is magnificent. One wonders about the science-fiction elements of that.
Women in your films aren't eye candy or trophies; throughout your career you've included some great female characters in strong and central roles. Alien is probably the best example; you subverted the classic horror model, the monster movie that basically built Universal during the studio era, by having the unstoppable monster meet its match in a woman who fights back instead of shrieking for help. But it doesn't end there; strong women show up in a number of other films: Thelma and Louise, G.I. Jane, Hannibal ...
I think it goes back to my mum, actually. She was a very powerful mother, even if she was only five feet tall. I have great respect for my mother for raising three boys, but I think she was the kind of benchmark for these roles; she could kick our ass, you know! She was a very strong person, and thereafter I've never found women challenging, because women have always been equal in my estimation. I have an office in London, an office in L.A., and an office in New York, and they are all run by women.
You begin shooting your next film tomorrow. What can you tell us about The Martian?
The Martian is the definitive maroon story, set in the near future and based on the notion of just going up to Mars since we already know so much about it. To put it very simply, it's about a man who travels up there and gets left behind. Matt Damon plays the main character, who is the botanist in the expedition that gets left behind, and we'll be able to see how he survives with the elements in Mars. It's a great story about using ingenuity and science to reconnect with Earth.
It's nice to hear you're still connected with science fiction.
[Laughing] This one is more like science fact.
My fanboy side won't let me finish this interview without asking you about where you are with developing the next installment of the Prometheus storyline from the Alien saga and the long-awaited Blade Runner sequel.
They're both developed and written; the only question is which project I'll decide to do next.
Do you stop by the concession stand whenever you go to the movies?
I have to admit I like popcorn with salt, the largest bag I can get!
How about an early movie memory of yours, do you remember going to the cinema as a child?
The first film I can remember seeing is watching a black-and-white film named Gilda with Rita Hayworth. I don't know how my mother got me into that matinee, but we were sitting in the balcony so I could get a good view. When Rita Hayworth starts to sing and sway "Put the Blame on Mame," I must have been around six years old, but I got a funny feeling down below. It was the first time I got the funny feeling. My mother got up to leave, and I asked her if we could please stay and finish watching it. She just said "No!" Rita Hayworth was a spectacularly beautiful woman, even to impress a six-year-old child.
The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies scored the biggest opening day of the year across 8 of its first 11 markets on Wednesday. The final part in the Hobbit trilogy capped of its overseas premiere with $11.3 million.
IMAX contributed $289k from 21 runs for a per-screen average of $14,185. Top performing IMAX sites include the Pathe Spuimarkt in The Hague (Netherlands) with $27,268; Cineplexx IMAX Donauplex 13 in Vienna (Austria) with $22,388; and the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin (Germany) with $20,019.
Germany has always been a loyal market for the franchise and its opening days numbers did not disappoint this time around after securing the biggest opening day of the year. The latest Hobbit film grossed $2.6 million with 245k admissions across 1,442 screens, including €550k in Tuesday midnight showings. The premiere figures outgross the latest Transformers film by 47% and the most recent Hunger Games title by 86% in the market. Five Armies captured 81% of the top 5 market share and is already outperforming An Unexpected Journey by 66% and is 4% ahead of Desolation of Smaug. The previous two installments of the franchise opened on a Thursday.
France reported a $2.7 million opening haul with 277.5k admissions across 914 screens, capturing 63% of the top 5 market share. Preview screenings put the film up to $2.8 million with 282k tickets sold.
Five Armies also fared well as it opened in Sweden ($1.5M on 443 screens), Norway ($1.03M on 311 screens), the Netherlands ($638k on approximately 220 screens), and Finland ($499k on 195 screens). Thursday previews in New Zealand sold out across 105 screens over 55 locations, taking in $141k.
The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies will roll out on more than 14,000 screens in 37 territories this weekend. The film opens in 17 territories on Thursday, including Russia, Brazil, Mexico and New Zealand. Friday sees an expansion to 8 more territories, including the United Kingdom. The film will be released in Japan on Saturday.
South Korea, Italy, and Spain will debut on December 17. China is slated to premiere the film on January 23, 2015.
Lionsgate reports that The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 added $1.39 million on Wednesday, off 40 percent from last week and bringing its domestic total up to $262.77 million through 20 days of release. The film currently trails Catching Fire by 23 percent at the same point.
Horrible Bosses 2 posted $0.725 million yesterday, down 33 percent from last Wednesday. The comedy sequel has taken in $38.3 million to-date, 48.5 percent off the pace of its predecessor.
Interstellar took third place on Wednesday with a $0.68 million gross, dropping 20 percent from the same day last week. The domestic tally stands at $160.6 million.
Penguins of Madagascar claimed fourth with a $0.51 million take, down 22 percent from last Wednesday. The animated spin-off has earned $51.03 million to-date.
Rounding out the top five, Big Hero 6 added $0.4 million for a 14 percent week-to-week drop. The Disney flick has summed $178.75 million domestically so far.
Meanwhile, The Theory of Everything grabbed another $246,957 from 826 locations for a $299 per-theater average. The film's total thus far is $14.36 million.