By Daniel Garris
Paramount's The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water surprised in a big way this weekend with a very strong debut of $55.37 million. The 3D animated live-action hybrid film based on the long running animated series blew past pre-release expectations. The film opened 73 percent stronger than the $32.02 million debut of 2004's The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (without adjusting for ticket price inflation). The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water opened just 20 percent below the $69.05 million start of last year's The LEGO Movie, which was certainly unexpected. Without adjusting for ticket price inflation, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water delivered the fifth largest opening weekend ever for the month of February (behind only 2004's The Passion of the Christ, The LEGO Movie, 2001's Hannibal and 2010's Valentine's Day).
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water opened with $14.91 million on Friday, increased a healthy 62 percent on Saturday to gross $24.09 million and declined 32 percent on Sunday to take in $16.37 million. That placed the film's opening weekend to Friday ratio at 3.71 to 1. That was noticeably stronger than the 3.35 to 1 ratio of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. The film did receive a so-so B rating on CinemaScore, though younger moviegoers under the age of 18 (who made of 50 percent of the film's audience) did give the film an A- score. With no real competition for family audiences throughout the month of February, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water should be able to hold up much better going forward than The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie did back in 2004.
After leading the box office for the past three weeks, Warner's American Sniper fell to second place this weekend with $23.29 million. The blockbuster Clint Eastwood directed film starring Bradley Cooper was down just 24 percent from last weekend's performance, which was obviously deflated by the Super Bowl. This weekend's hold for American Sniper was especially impressive given that the film lost its IMAX screens to Jupiter Ascending and Seventh Son. American Sniper has grossed a massive $281.39 million after 24 days of wide release. That ranks the film as the third highest grossing release of 2014 thus far domestically and leaves the film just $18.61 million away from reaching the $300 million domestic milestone.
Fellow Warner Bros. release Jupiter Ascending debuted in third place with $18.37 million. The expensive 3D sci-fi film from The Wachowskis starring Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis debuted on the lower end of already relatively modest expectations. Jupiter Ascending was originally scheduled to open last July, but pushing the film back to February ultimately made little difference at the box office and likely even hurt the film's potential a bit. The opening weekend performance of Jupiter Ascending was quite similar to the $18.56 million start of 2008's Speed Racer.
Jupiter Ascending opened with $6.33 million on Friday (which included an estimated $1.0 million from evening shows on Tuesday), increased 20 percent on Saturday to take in $7.57 million and declined 41 percent on Sunday to gross $4.47 million. That gave the film an opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.90 to 1. Jupiter Ascending received a lackluster B- rating on CinemaScore and is likely to be significantly front-loaded due in part to fans of The Wachowskis rushing out on opening weekend. The audience breakdown for Jupiter Ascending skewed heavily towards moviegoers over the age of 25 (82 percent) and towards male moviegoers (57 percent).
While Jupiter Ascending at least had a presence at the box office this weekend, Universal's Seventh Son didn't. The pricey and long delayed fantasy film (which was originally to be released by Warner Bros.) stumbled out of the gate with a fourth place debut of $7.22 million. Seventh Son debuted on the low end of expectations and represents yet another early 2015 release that audiences simply had no interest in (joining the likes of Blackhat, Mortdecai and Strange Magic). It should be noted that Seventh Son has had much more of a box office presence overseas.
Seventh Son opened with $2.29 million on Friday, increased 31 percent on Saturday to gross $3.00 million and fell 36 percent on Sunday to gross $1.93 million. That placed the film's opening weekend to Friday ratio at 3.16 to 1. Like Jupiter Ascending, Seventh Son also received a lackluster B- rating on CinemaScore. The audience breakdown for the film skewed towards moviegoers over the age of 25 (68 percent) and towards male moviegoers (61 percent).
Project Almanac rounded out the weekend's top five with $5.23 million. The low budget sci-fi thriller from Paramount was down just 37 percent from last weekend. Despite the nice second weekend hold, Project Almanac is still performing below pre-release expectations with a ten-day start of $15.66 million.
Paddington followed very closely behind in sixth with $5.22 million. The family film from The Weinstein Company was also down 37 percent from last weekend, which represented a very solid hold, especially given the stronger than expected launch of The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. Paddington has grossed $57.12 million through 24 days of release.