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Sunday Update: Universal's Fifty Shades of Grey held onto first place at the box office this weekend with an estimated $23.25 million. However, the successful romantic drama was down a massive 73 percent from last weekend's three-day debut. Initial front-loading driven by the film's pre-existing fanbase and Valentine's Day along with mixed word of mouth and poor critical reviews are all having an effect on the film. Fifty Shades of Grey held up well during the midweek, so it is likely the film will perform relatively stronger on weekdays than during the weekend going forward. In the bigger picture, Fifty Shades of Grey is still performing very well and continues to run towards the higher end of expectations with $130.15 million through ten days. That places the film a very impressive 50 percent ahead of the $86.93 million ten-day take of 2010's Valentine's Day (which fell 70 percent in its second weekend to gross $16.67 million).

Fox's Kingsman: The Secret Service took in an estimated $17.53 million to remain in second place. The Matthew Vaughn directed graphic novel adaptation starring Colin Firth was down 52 percent from last weekend. That represented a respectable second weekend hold, especially with last weekend's debut having been inflated a bit by the dual-holiday weekend. Kingsman continues to exceed expectations with a healthy $67.11 million in its first ten days of release. The film is currently running 54 percent ahead of the $43.52 million ten-day gross of 2010's Red.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water held steady in third with an estimated $15.5 million. That represented a 51 percent decline from the previous frame. While The SpongeBob Movie has been relatively front-loaded for a family film so far, the film continues to exceed expectations in a very big way with $125.17 million through 17 days. That places The SpongeBob Movie 36 percent ahead of the $92.34 million 17-day take of 2011's Rango. With no new family films entering the marketplace each of the next two weeks, The SpongeBob Movie could still stabilize going forward.

Disney's McFarland, USA led this weekend's openers with an estimated fourth place debut of $11.32M. The well received sports drama starring Kevin Costner opened on the high end of expectations. McFarland, USA opened 16 percent ahead of the $9.78 million start of last year's Draft Day.

McFarland, USA opened with $3.62 million on Friday, increased 25 percent on Saturday to gross $4.53 million and is estimated to decline 30 percent on Sunday to take in $3.16 million. That gives the film a promising estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio of 3.12 to 1. McFarland, USA also received a promising A rating on CinemaScore. The audience breakdown for the film was evenly split between genders and skewed heavily towards moviegoers over the age of 25 (70 percent).

The DUFF followed closely behind in fifth place with an estimated $11.03 million. The PG-13 comedy from CBS Films and Lionsgate exceeded pre-release expectations and was helped out this weekend by relatively high levels of online buzz. The DUFF opened 26 percent stronger than the $8.93 million start of last year's That Awkward Moment.

The DUFF opened with $4.28 million on Friday, essentially held even on Saturday with $4.26 million and is estimated to decline 42 percent on Sunday to gross $2.49 million. That places the film's estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio at 2.58 to 1. The audience breakdown for the film skewed heavily towards female moviegoers (75 percent) and moviegoers under the age of 25 (68 percent). With an encouraging A- rating on CinemaScore and no real new direct competition until Cinderella and Insurgent open in March, The DUFF has a good chance of holding up nicely going forward.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 stumbled out of the gates this weekend with a seventh place estimated debut of $5.8 million. The R-rated comedy sequel from Paramount opened below pre-release expectations and 59 percent below the $14.02 million start of 2010's Hot Tub Time Machine. Clearly Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is a sequel that audiences weren't excited about.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 opened with $2.3 million on Friday, decreased 5 percent on Saturday to take in $2.19 million and is estimated to decline 40 percent on Sunday to gross $1.31 million. That gives the film an estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.52 to 1. Going forward Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is unlikely to hold up as well as its predecessor did, especially after receiving a lackluster C- rating on CinemaScore.

Warner's American Sniper continued to have a presence at the box office with an estimated sixth place take of $9.65 million. The blockbuster Clint Eastwood directed Best Picture nominee starring Bradley Cooper was down a very solid 41 percent. American Sniper has grossed $319.61 million after 38 days of wide release and continues to march closer to becoming the highest grossing release of 2014 domestically (a mark which is currently held by The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 with $336.41 million).

Saturday Update: Universal reports that Fifty Shades of Grey easily retained first place on Friday with an estimated $8.0 million, down 74 percent from its massive opening day last week. With $114.9 million in the bank so far, the adaptation is pacing 10 percent ahead of the original Twilight and 51 percent ahead of Valentine's Day. BoxOffice projects a sophomore frame of $24.1 million, easily repeating atop the weekend box office.

Holding onto second place Friday was Fox's Kingsman: The Secret Service, off 49 percent from opening day to $5.3 million yesterday. The graphic novel pic has displayed healthy early legs thanks to positive word of mouth and, with $54.9 million totaled so far, leads Jumper by 26 percent and Kick-Ass by 95 percent through the same respective points in release. BoxOffice projects a solid $17.7 million second weekend.

Lionsgate and CBS Films report that The DUFF surprisingly led all newcomers on Friday with an estimated $4.27 million. The sleeper pic notably topped the $3.95 million opening day of last year's That Awkward Moment despite boasting less star power. The studios behind the teen-centric flick successfully generated positive word of mouth through social media outlets after pre-release screenings in select markets, often drawing comparison to the 2004 hit, Mean Girls. DUFF's 73 percent Rotten Tomatoes score and "A-" CinemaScore back that up even further. Some front-loading to Friday could be expected, so BoxOffice is conservatively projecting an $11.1 million opening weekend.

Paramount's The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water added another $4.0 million yesterday, down just 38 percent from last Friday. The sequel has earned an impressive $113.7 million domestically thus far, and its legs continue to showcase strong word of mouth among families. BoxOffice projects the flick will move back into second place for the weekend with an $18.9 million third frame.

Disney's McFarland, USA bowed to $3.62 million yesterday, in line with last year's Draft Day ($3.56 million) and Million Dollar Arm ($3.47 million). The latest Kevin Costner sports drama is performing in line with expectations, and could see healthy legs to come with positive critics' reviews (78 percent) and early audience word of mouth (86 percent). BoxOffice projects a $10.4 million weekend.

American Sniper landed just outside the top five yesterday, easing 27 percent from last Friday to $2.72 million. The film has amassed $312.7 million to-date, and looks to bring in around $9.8 million for the weekend as a whole.

Meanwhile, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 was unable to capitalize on its predecessor's goodwill. The comedy sequel opened to $2.3 million on Friday, less than half of the original's $4.85 million first day five years ago. Unfortunately, reviews (14 percent) and early word of mouth (49 percent) don't suggest the sequel will achieve anywhere near the same cult-like hit status as the first film. BoxOffice projects a disappointing $6.3 million opening weekend for the $14 million-budgeted sequel.

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

Friday Update: Sources tells BoxOffice that Fifty Shades of Grey is headed for $25 million-$26 million during its sophomore frame, which will be more than enough to put in on top of the box office this weekend. Nobody will be surprised by such a steep drop after the film's staggering debut frame. 

None of the three newcomers this week won't crack $15 million. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 leads the bunch, and it's on pace for $12 million-$13 million. McFarland, USA should hit $10 million, while The DUFF is on pace for $8.5 million.

Check back tomorrow for updated projections and official studio numbers.

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By Daniel Garris

Universal's Fifty Shades of Grey took in $4.23 million on Thursday to continue to lead the daily box office. The highly anticipated erotic romantic drama was up a solid 1 percent over Wednesday's performance. After experiencing sharp daily declines on Sunday and Monday, Fifty Shades of Grey stabilized during the midweek. Fifty Shades of Grey was easily the week's top film with a seven-day start of $106.90 million. That was on the high end of the film's massive pre-release expectations and was an impressive 52 percent stronger than the $70.26 million seven-day start of 2010's Valentine's Day. Fifty Shades of Grey is widely expected to remain in first place this weekend.

Fox's Kingsman: The Secret Service held steady in second place with $2.31 million. The Matthew Vaughn directed graphic novel adaptation starring Colin Firth was up a healthy 3 percent over Wednesday. Kingsman placed in second for the week with a seven-day start of $49.58 million. The film continues to exceed pre-release expectations and is running a massive 95.5 percent ahead of the $25.37 million seven-day take of 2010's Kick-Ass.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water took in $1.93 million to remain in third. The successful 3D animated film from Paramount increased 3 percent over Wednesday and was up 26 percent over last Thursday. The SpongeBob Movie placed in third for the week with $46.54 million. That represented a 26 percent decline from the film's opening week performance and brings the film's two-week total to a stronger than expected $109.67 million.

Warner's American Sniper continued to claim fourth with $1.16 million. The Clint Eastwood directed blockbuster starring Bradley Cooper was up a strong 12 percent over Wednesday and down just 22 percent from last Thursday. American Sniper placed in fourth for the week with $22.26 million. That was down 25 percent from last week and brings the film's total gross to $309.96 million after five weeks of wide release.

Fellow Warner Bros. release Jupiter Ascending rounded out the day's unchanged top five with $0.58 million. The expensive 3D sci-fi film from The Wachowskis was down 1 percent from Wednesday and down 35 percent from last Thursday. Jupiter Ascending placed in fifth for the week with $12.74 million. The film was down 45 percent from its opening week performance and has grossed a very disappointing $35.86 million in two weeks.

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sony-prior.pngThe official press release:

Meg Prior knew exactly what type of camera she needed to shoot her latest documentary project, Afghanistan: Outside the Wire. The veteran cinematographer and filmmaker needed something "small, versatile, durable, and rugged enough to withstand the heat and dust" of an Afghanistan warzone, while "always coming up with those intimate looks I wanted." She found the perfect fit in Sony's HXR-NX3.

Prior, a civilian American with no previous military background was given nearly unrestricted access to capture footage as she deployed with different military units in Afghanistan throughout production on Afghanistan: Outside the Wire. Prior was a one-woman camera crew, shooting everything herself for the project she describes as having "incredible purpose and meaning" to her, and one in which she feels accurately "captures unimaginable moments."

"I realized that we back here in the U.S. don't know what those who serve our country do on behalf of us," she said. "This film became a personal responsibility for me to try to cover the variety of missions and show the people that carry them out."

In addition to the generous access Prior received from the military, the Sony camera was equally vital for telling her story. "The equipment afforded me the ability to access and secure reliable footage that I could depend on," she said. "If I couldn't capture really good quality footage, it wouldn't have been worth the risks - number one, to [the military] to have me as a liability with them and number two, for me to feel this responsibility but never be able to convey the story."

Prior has been a Sony user for a number of years, but really became a convert during her work on Afghanistan: Outside the Wire. She began filming the piece in 2010 on Sony's HXR-NX5U, the predecessor to the HXR-NX3, which she filmed a majority of her work on. Said Prior, "At the time, I was just looking to get another NX5, but I discovered the NX3, which is an amazing camera."

Prior explained how she came to choose Sony cameras to film her biggest project to date. "I appreciated the discussions I had with different cinematographers as we discussed the equipment [I planned to bring to Afghanistan]," she said. "I actually worked with another cinematographer friend of mine, John Leonetti, who was wonderful. He is an amazing feature cinematographer and we discussed every piece in my kit. At that time, I was in a situation that when you deploy with the military there were three stipulations: you bring everything you need, you may not use anything with wheels, and you must be able to carry all of your stuff.

So it was really simple. At that time, the NX5 was the solution, and then I had had another cassette Sony camera before that, a predecessor to the NX5. This whole project has been shot on a variety of Sony cameras."

The one feature that Prior mentioned time and again for its importance is the durability of the NX3. "When I first saw Bagram [Airfield, the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan], I thought it would be challenging on the equipment," she said. "The dust was almost like cake flour, if you poured it in a bowl, dipped your camera in it for a second, and pulled it out, that is what your gear could look like in a couple of minutes, given the right conditions. So, I was very concerned about the ability for my cameras to last the duration. But they proved time and again to handle it."

The NX3 also showed its durability in weather conditions that varied greatly. "Whether it was freezing cold, out during steaming hot patrols, in wind, rain, sleet, dust; I never had [the NX3] go down," she said. "From desert to high desert to air assault units, from climbing to a remote village at 9,000 feet, on a patrol that was more than six miles over rocky, moon-like conditions - the terrain was incredible and the camera never wavered."

The demanding Afghan environment and the importance of being a one-person crew made it clear to Prior that not just any camera could work to meet all of the specifications and rigors of shooting in a warzone.

"I realized early on that my opportunity to be allowed to go on a variety of missions was going to be enhanced by being a single person, occupying a single seat in their truck," she said. "I said, it's just me, if you squeeze me onto as many types of missions, that would be great. In addition, I had to be very mobile and I believe that the kit I was carrying allowed me to be. I couldn't use a backpack at times. Remember, I'm wearing body armor and a helmet, I've got a first aid kit and I'm wearing boots and I've got eye pro on and I'm carrying a compass. I had a lot of required gear that had to be worn, and because I'm a female I had to have a scarf in the event we took our helmets off, since we are in an Islamic environment. Knowing all of that, and realizing backpacks can have things stolen out of them easily, I wanted to make sure I had my equipment with me, on me at all times, as opposed to in a backpack, so I packed batteries in certain special little pockets that were worn on my body armor and that's how I made sure I had my extra battery power. SD cards as well. Everything needed to be with me at all times."

Another inherent challenge of shooting run-and-gun in a warzone like Afghanistan is having just one chance to capture a shot. Prior explained, "I'm doing run and gun. If I'm on a foot patrol, the soldiers move at a certain speed. If I didn't run ahead, stop and film them coming by, and then turn and run ahead, I'd only be filming elbows and butts, so I had to be very mobile. We are always so spoiled by the ability to block and plan shots, when we have that benefit of a scripted setting or project. It is so amazing when you become almost intuitive, and you can film somebody saying something, pan out and then something happens right in front of you that you could try to block 100 times and never get it right. You need to always be prepared, on the fly, always looking for what's happening in front of you. It's the magic of immersing yourself into what you are trying to capture."

The NX3 is also known for being able to capture high quality footage in low light environments, which was a boon for Prior. "I took it into a few rare opportunities on this trip," she said. "One was a girls' school that looks like a hollowed out abused warehouse without any electricity and broken windows. This camera captured what we needed in very dark conditions. I was rewarded with a rare opportunity, that you don't get a second take on - it has to work that time - no one is waiting for me!," she said.

A warzone with multiple terrains and fierce emotions is interesting backdrop for filming. Prior notes, "When I first got here, I wondered how you could make anything look beautiful here? Everything was loud, busy, brash, and aggressive."

But she was able to capture the human element of the troops. "When you're attempting to capture a war environment and you're trying to personalize the people in your pictures, you need to be close enough and need to be intimate and share their expression," she said. "You need to show their eyes, their hands, be close enough that you're not dependent on zoom to get there. That is when I'm looking for a clear, stable, color resonance that depicts smoothness and clarity and the camera always came up with those intimate looks I wanted."

Prior also relied on the zoom function during intense scenarios. "When you're in a combat environment, you have to be showing where the soldiers are looking and you're always concerned about spotting something they are looking for- which is enemy indicators," she said. "I was constantly zooming out at a ridge line or another vehicle or in the air, zooming at the horizon and pushing out on things so people could see what a dwelling looks like from the overhead view of a helicopter. The zoom capability on the NX3 had an additional two times, which was an amazing benefit to helping me compare where we were to where we were going or what we were worried about or to see something we weren't going to approach anytime soon. That was extremely important feature."

Overall, Prior learned a great deal about war, military practices and living abroad. She saw hardship, faced adversity and experienced loss. "People don't understand how challenging it is to walk and shoot simultaneously, and to do that for six straight hours, or be out for 10 or 13 hours on a patrol," she said. "You don't get to go back and plug in gear. Once you are outside the base, once you're outside the wire, you are dependent upon whatever you brought with you."

While it was a transformative experience for her, she is glad she was able to capture all of her experiences, using Sony's durable and portable cameras to help further the understanding and recognition of what the military does to ensure the safety of the American people and she feels privileged that she can soon share this meaningful story with the world.

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By Alex Edghill

Friday Morning Update: For the second week in a row Insurgent led all upcoming films with 117,043 tweets, almost more than the rest of the top 5 combined. With Fifty Shades Of Grey waning massively on social media after its spectacular opening Insurgent has stepped up as the clear favourite to carry the flag of domination for the next few weeks until its release. It has not dipped below 12,500 tweets at any point since last Tuesday when its last trailer dropped online. Its predecessor Divergent came in at a similar ~90k tweets the same distance before its release. The slight bump in tweets is good to see but considering that virtually all sequels to successful films get a bump in tweets by default I'm not sold on a massive opening week increase yet. Not that its backers would be disappointed with another $54 million opening per say, but with the reportedly bigger production price tag and marketing outlay it would appear they were hoping to close the gap between it and The Hunger Games franchise.  

Perhaps what was more interesting on the week was the appearance of Paper Towns at number three on the Twitter buzz list. The upcoming John Green adaptation is especially interesting since the last adaptation of his was The Fault In Our Stars which was the most talked about movie on Twitter for all of 2014. In other words, the force is innately strong with this one as it is going to appeal to the exact same audience. Buzz has been heating up as fans are clamouring for an official trailer and poster, so much so that numerous fan made offerings have popped up online. This appears to be set to follow in the footsteps of Stars and be one of the big success stories on the year.

The rest of the top 5 were made up of Focus, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, and Furious 7 despite the fact that they were all in decline from their tally last week.

Twitter Top 10 Movies for the week of February 13th to February 19th

Date Movie Tweets Rank Change
3/20/15 The Divergent Series: Insurgent 117,043 1 (-) 38.46%
2/27/15 Focus (2015) 33,707 2 (+5) -12.75%
6/05/15 Paper Towns 31,977 3 (+6) 5.22%
5/01/15 Avengers: Age of Ultron 31,133 4 (+2) -27.54%
4/03/15 Furious 7 29,571 5 (+3) -4.69%

Subscribe to Box Office for more social media insights/coverage.

Please check the methodology page for information about our Twitter project or here for historic data.

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Every time Carmike Cinemas wanted to roll out a special concessions promotion, the fourth-largest exhibition chain in North America faced a logistical challenge. The chain had to notify individual managers across its 280 theaters, and then send the appropriate materials ahead of time. With NEC's digital display boards, Carmike could make subtle but important updates-introduce a new product or change a price-seamlessly and efficiently throughout its theaters. In addition, Carmike was able to transform the concession stands in its circuit to deliver a more visually engaging presentation to its patrons. NEC's digital-display business has reached many other leading exhibitors in the United States as well, including AMC, Fridley Theatres, Santikos Theatres and Wehrenberg. 

BoxOffice spoke with NEC Display Solutions senior director of product marketing, Keith Yanke, to learn more about how the company is making an impression in the digital-signage sector of the business. 

NEC might be best known as a leader in digital projection, but the company offers exhibitors much more than that. Could you describe your product line for exhibitors?  

NEC is an industry-leading manufacturer of commercial- and professional-grade, large-format LCD displays (32"-98") that are designed for digital-signage applications. Within the exhibitor vertical, these equate to ideal products for digital menu boards, auditorium signage, electronic movie posters (both indoor and outdoor) and box office displays.We also have a special financing program to help the remaining 1,000 screens at movie theaters across America make the conversion to digital cinema. It's called "Ticket to Digital." It's an affordable monthly payment for a complete digital projector system. The Ticket to digital include the complete projector system and installation.  

The marquee, lobby cards-they're a staple of the cinema experience. How has digital signage transformed that experience for consumers?  

Consumers are now immersed in a more interactive, sense-compelling experience with Full HD movie trailers, videos of melted butter poured over a fresh bag of popcorn, and touch-screen kiosks for pre-ordered ticket printout. Digital displays also provide for a more tech-savvy look and appeal for the theater itself. The benefits for the exhibitor are numerous. These include promotion and price flexibility, compliancy, both from a corporate marketing perspective in addition to forthcoming FDA nutritional laws, advertising revenue streams, reduction in print/static sign production and distribution costs, and regional segmentation efforts.   

NEC can put on the hat of a general contractor and assist in supplying all components that are necessary for a successful deployment. This includes PCs/media players, content management software, cabling, video distribution, mounting and power suppression along with installation and logistical services. Our full turnkey approach even offers design from a content perspective (videos, images, copy writing, storyboard development).   

Are these offerings better suited for multiplexes, or can they also transform community cinemas with smaller screen counts? 

The key benefit to digital signage is that it offers scalability and control from one to thousands of screens and locations either via cloud-based or LAN/WLAN networks.   

We hear a lot about new innovations that help filmgoers get off the couch and keep coming back to the theater-from new digital projectors to luxury seating and enhanced dining options. Do you consider these NEC products to be part of this larger trend toward giving filmgoers a more valuable experience at the movies?  

Whether it is receiving your movie ticket from an interactive kiosk, reviewing up-to-date nutritional information from a digital menu board, or viewing the latest movie releases via a digital cinema projector, NEC is an integral part of the larger trend toward giving filmgoers a value-add experience.

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