By Alex Edghill

Fifty Shades Of Grey reclaimed its Facebook throne over the last couple weeks as it led all tracked films with 276,907 new likes. With its release now just over two weeks away and its marketing campaign gearing up its no surprise to see this back on top of the list given the level of interest the books have drummed up since their release in 2011. Its a forgone conclusion that this is going to be a real moneymaker on release given its modest price tag of $40 million, but the question remains just how big it will be. Though its not the best comparison, the best I can think of here (for which I have comparative data that is) is The Hunger Games which saw an increase of 735k new likes the same slots before release. I will say that the level of interest on Facebook for Fifty Shades was much higher than Hunger Games at this point before release in general as Shades has over 6 million likes while Hunger Games had only 1.7 million likes at the same time before release. However, even with that being said the discrepancy between the two in terms of increases is somewhat of a red flag in my books. Single point analysis and all that aside, my early expectations here is something in the range of $50-$60 million with anything more being a big surprise given its numbers.

Ted 2 continues to be a heavyweight on Facebook as it had the second highest like increases of all films tracked over the last couple weeks. The first was such a huge success in theaters, then came DVD, TV, and merchandising, which quickly immortalized it into pop culture. You might say that it has such a huge number that ~250k likes is such a small percentage. Which is true, but other massive films we track such as Furious 6 (54 million likes), and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (13 million likes) haven't had the same level of consistent success on Facebook day in and day out as Ted 2 and it seems assured to best the already impressive $54 million that the first film generated on opening weekend in 2012.

The teen-targeted horrors battled it out for 3rd and 4th slot - Project Almanac and Unfriended. Almanac comes out a couple months before Unfriended on January 30th but both had nearly identical increases over the last two weeks of ~210k likes. Unfriended has really been turning heads on social media (see my earlier column about its trailer debut) in general and this just further proves it as it is running neck and neck with a release in the same genre that comes out more than two months before it. At this rate Unfriended will be at over 500k likes prerelease which is yet another strong sign for potential. Project Almanac has really been lagging up until a couple weeks ago but with its current trend upwards it looks like a lock for teen millions plus. 

Rounding out the top 5 was Minions which continues to impress me with its appeal and staying power despite its already massive like count.  It has either led or been in the top 5 every week since last November. This seems to be a sure lock to become a top 10 grossing film on the year.

Facebook Top 15 Movies by Like Increase for the last Two Weeks Ending Sunday January 25th

Rank Release Movie Likes Previous Change % Change
1 02/13/15 Fifty Shades of Grey 7,261,189 6,984,282 276,907 3.96%
2 06/26/15 Ted 2 21,336,358 21,068,474 267,884 1.27%
3 01/30/15 Project Almanac 306,996 97,192 209,804 215.87%
4 04/17/15 Unfriended 299,017 90,432 208,585 230.65%
5 07/10/15 Minions 28,362,539 28,234,446 128,093 0.45%

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The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies crossed the $600 million overseas mark after adding $54.2 million from 61 markets. The Chinese release is behind the big box office bump, contributing $49.5 million from a weekend debut across an estimated 8,802 screens. Other top overseas markets include Germany ($77.9M) and the United Kingdom ($63.6M). The final film in the Hobbit trilogy has grossed a total of $616.9 million overseas and $866.4 million worldwide.

Taken 3 netted $26.3 million from 57 markets, including an $8.2 million debut in France. The overseas cume is now up to $151.4 million. The action flick has grossed $227.2 million globally.

The headlines will lead with American Sniper crossing $200 million domestically this weekend, but the film isn't finished earning overseas. American Sniper opened in 17 markets over the weekend, bringing the total number of markets in release to 26. The film added $17.6 million from the expansion, including a $4.3 million bow in Australia. American Sniper has now grossed $248.2 million worldwide.

Big Hero 6 grossed $5.1 million ($6.4 million including previews) in its South Korean debut, the second biggest opening for a Disney Animation/Pixar movie in the market behind Frozen. The film also opened well in Germany, where it took $3.9 million ($4.4 million including previews). Japan continues to lead the overseas charge with a $58.7 million cume. Big Hero 6 finished the weekend with a $14.9 million haul from 33 territories and has grossed a total of $238.6 million outside of North America. The film has collected $456 million worldwide.

Penguins of Madagascar made $9 million from 31 markets, bringing its overseas cume up to $240 million. The animated film has grossed $321.2 million worldwide.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb hit a major global milestone this weekend, reaching a $300 million global cume following an $8.7 million weekend in 44 markets. The family film has grossed a total of $192.5 million outside of North America.

The Theory of Everything brought in $7 million from 25 territories to reach an overseas total of $41.7 million. France opened with $580k at 207 dates for a 7th place finish this weekend. The biopic has grossed a total of $70.6 million worldwide.

Seventh Son expanded to five more territories this weekend, grossing a total of $6.8 million. The film has grossed a total of $77 million from 46 territories, including a $25 million haul from China.

Mortdecai enjoyed a $9.7 million day-and-date debut from 33 territories and North America. German led all overseas territories by contributing $1.2 million of the $5.2 million cume.

Exodus: Gods and Kings collected $5.2 million from 31 markets. The film has now grossed $189.5 million outside of North America, with Japan set to release next weekend. Exodus has grossed $253 million worldwide.

Into The Woods claimed the top spot in Spain with an $800k debut this weekend. The film continues to perform in the UK, where it currently leads all overseas territories with a $10.9 million cume. The musical grossed a total of $5.1 million in its fifth weekend overseas, taking its cume outside of North America up to $34 million. Into the Woods has grossed $155.4 million worldwide.

Birdman grossed $4.3 million from 26 markets, taking its overseas total up to $19.1m. The art-house hit has grossed $49.9 million globally.

Unbroken brought in $3.8 million from 36 territories, reaching a $28.1 million overseas cume. The drama has grossed $140.4 million worldwide.


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Sunday Update: Warner's American Sniper continued to absolutely dominate the box office this weekend with an estimated first place take of $64.37 million. In the process, the Clint Eastwood directed Best Picture nominee starring Bradley Cooper surpassed the $200 million domestic mark this weekend. American Sniper was down just 28 percent from last weekend. That represented an extremely impressive second weekend hold, especially for a film with grosses of this magnitude.

Without adjusting for ticket price inflation, American Sniper registered the eighth largest second weekend gross of all-time. American Sniper also registered the third largest January weekend gross of all-time (behind only the film's performance last weekend and the third weekend performance of Avatar back in 2010). With $200.14 million after just ten days of wide release, American Sniper is currently running a massive 64 percent ahead of the $122.32 million ten-day start of 2013's Gravity (which fell 23 percent in its second weekend to gross $43.19 million). Given this weekend's performance, American Sniper is obviously in great position to zoom past the $300 million milestone going forward.

American Sniper took in an estimated $5.8 million from IMAX locations this weekend. That brings the film's IMAX total to $18.8 million, which represents 9.4 percent of the film's overall gross thus far.

The Boy Next Door debuted in second place this weekend with an estimated $15.0 million. Universal's low-budget thriller starring Jennifer Lopez performed on the higher end of pre-release expectations. The film was off to a good start, especially with its low production budget in mind. The Boy Next Door opened 23 percent ahead of the $12.20 million start of 2010's The Back-Up Plan (which also starred Lopez) and debuted just 12 percent below the $17.12 million debut of 2013's The Call. The Boy Next Door received a B- rating on CinemaScore, which is respectable for a thriller. The audience breakdown for The Boy Next Door skewed heavily towards female moviegoers (71 percent) and towards moviegoers 25 years and older (60 percent).

The news was far worse for the weekend's other two wide releases as Disney's Strange Magic and Lionsgate's Mortdecai were both dead on arrival. As was the case with Universal's Blackhat last weekend, Strange Magic and Mortdecai both had a problem finding an audience due in large part to the breakout performance of American Sniper (with poor critical reviews for both films also not helping).

Strange Magic debuted in seventh place with an estimated $5.53 million. The computer animated film written and executive produced by George Lucas debuted below its already modest pre-release expectations. Strange Magic performed similarly to Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return, which opened with $3.75 million back in May of last year. Strange Magic received a B- rating on CinemaScore, which is lackluster for an animated film. The audience breakdown for Strange Magic skewed towards female moviegoers (56 percent) and towards moviegoers 25 years and younger (53 percent). Family audiences represented 71 percent of the film's overall audience.

Mortdecai landed in ninth with an estimated $4.13 million. Unlike Strange Magic, the comedy starring Johnny Depp and Gwyneth Paltrow had been expected to have somewhat of a presence at the box office this weekend, due in part to strong levels of online buzz. But much like last year's Transcendence (which debuted with just $10.89 million), Mortdecai failed to live up to expectations. Audiences have clearly lost interest in Depp, especially when it comes to his non-event film roles. Mortdecai received a soft C+ rating on CinemaScore.

Paddington took third place this weekend with an estimated $12.39 million. The family film from The Weinstein Company was down 35 percent from last weekend's three-day start. That represented a nice second weekend hold, especially with the added direct completion from Strange Magic. Paddington surpassed the $40 million mark this weekend and has grossed a very solid $40.06 million. That places the film on par with the $40.06 million ten-day start of The Nut Job last January (which fell 38 percent in its second weekend to gross $12.10 million).

Sony's The Wedding Ringer followed in fourth with an estimated $11.6 million. The modestly budgeted comedy starring Kevin Hart and Josh Gad was down a respectable 44 percent from last weekend. The Wedding Ringer has grossed $39.68 million in ten days, which is on the lower end of expectations. The film is now running 4 percent ahead of the $38.28 million ten-day take of last year's About Last Night (which declined a far sharper 71 percent in its second weekend to gross $7.53 million).

Fox's Taken 3 rounded out the weekend's top five with an estimated $7.6 million. The third installment of the Liam Neeson led franchise was down a significant 48 percent from last weekend. Taken 3 has grossed $76.05 million in 17 days, which places the film 28 percent behind the $105.83 million 17-day gross of 2012's Taken 2.

Best Picture nominees The Imitation Game and Selma took in sixth and eighth place with respective estimated takes of $7.14 million and $5.50 million. With aid from expanding into an additional 414 locations, The Weinstein Company's The Imitation Game was up a strong 5 percent over last weekend. Paramount's Selma fell 37 percent from last weekend, due in part to last weekend's performance having been inflated by the Martin Luther King holiday. Respective total grosses stand at $60.64 million for The Imitation Game and at $39.22 million for Selma.

- Daniel Garris

Saturday Update: Warner Bros. reports American Sniper eased just 40 percent from last Friday to $18.33 million yesterday, easily holding onto first place. To date, the blockbuster war drama has earned $154.1 million domestically. BoxOffice projects a $65 million haul this weekend. Should that hold, it would be one of the top eight sophomore weekends in history (second only to Avatar and the original Spider-Man among non-sequels), and the biggest ever second weekend gross for a non-franchise movie -- topping The Passion of the Christ's $53.2 million second frame. Sniper is currently running 68 percent ahead of where Gravity stood at the same point, and is currently in line with the eight-day $153 million take posted by Passion in 2004. The Bradley Cooper-led, Clint Eastwood-helmed Oscar nominee should approach, if not cross, the $200 million domestic mark by the end of the weekend.

The Boy Next Door grabbed a solid $5.7 million in its first day on Friday. The Jennifer Lopez thriller is on target to bring in $15.7 million over its debut weekend, a positive start for the micro-budget flick.

The Wedding Ringer added $3.3 million yesterday, down 53 percent from its opening day last weekend. With $31.4 million in the bank through 8 days of release, BoxOffice projects a $10.9 million sophomore frame.

Paddington eased 44 percent from opening day last week to $2.6 million on Friday, giving the well-received animated adaptation a $30.3 million domestic total through eight days of release. BoxOffice projects $12.4 million for the weekend.

The Imitation Game tacked on another $1.92 million yesterday as it added another 414 theaters this weekend. The multiple Oscar nominee has tallied $55.4 million thus far. BoxOffice projects a $7.5 million weekend.

Unfortunately, the other two openers this weekend struggled to find an audience in a crowded marketplace. Mortdecai bowed to $1.47 million on Friday, setting it on a course for a $4.5 million weekend. Meanwhile, Strange Magic pulled $1.3 million on its first day and is expected to tally around $5 million for its opening weekend.

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

- Shawn Robbins

Update #2: Sources tell BoxOffice that American Sniper is headed for more than $55 million during its sophomore frame, which means it will end up with close to $200 million by Sunday. 

The Boy Next Door is clearly connecting with key female demos, and it's on pace for north of $16 million.

Both Mortdecai and Strange Magic will open to around $6 million-$7 million. Mortdecai's debut marks another disappointment for star Johnny Depp.

Check back tomorrow for updated projections and official studio numbers.

Update #1: Sources report that The Boy Next Door landed an estimated $500,000 from Thursday's opening shows, a good start for the low-budget thriller starring Jennifer Lopez. Comparisons are somewhat few and far between, although last night's early take was in line with Nightcrawler's $515,000 Thursday haul back in October.

Also opening this weekend are Mortdecai and Strange Magic. Ultimately, though, the big story of the weekend will be how well American Sniper holds on in its sophomore frame of wide release.

More as it comes.

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By Daniel Garris

Warner's American Sniper took in an impressive $7.66 million on Thursday to lead the daily box office with ease for a seventh consecutive day. The Clint Eastwood directed Best Picture nominee starring Bradley Cooper was up 1 percent over Wednesday. American Sniper rocketed past expectations this week with a massive $132.35 million in its first week of wide release. That brings the film's total gross to $135.77 million. American Sniper is currently running 67 percent ahead of the $79.13 million seven-day take of 2013's Gravity. Given its strong holding power throughout the week, American Sniper is in great shape to experience a very strong hold over the weekend.

The Wedding Ringer held steady in second with $1.18 million. Sony's modestly budgeted comedy starring Kevin Hart and Josh Gad was up 2 percent over Wednesday's performance. The Wedding Ringer took second place for the week with a seven-day start of $28.08 million. That was on the lower end of pre-release expectations and places the film 9 percent behind the $30.75 million seven-day take of last year's About Last Night. The Wedding Ringer has been displaying stronger holding power than About Last Night so far and is very likely to continue to do so going forward.

Fox's Taken 3 grossed $0.757 million to remain in third place. The third installment of the Liam Neeson led franchise up 5 percent from Wednesday, but still down a sharp 57 percent from last Thursday. Taken 3 placed in fourth for the week with $19.66 million and has grossed $68.45 million in two weeks of release. That places the film a reasonable 26 percent behind the $92.57 million two-week take of 2012's Taken 2.

Selma continued to claim fourth place with $0.708 million. The Best Picture nominee from Paramount was up an impressive 17 percent over Wednesday and down 37 percent from last Thursday. Selma held up very nicely this week with a fifth place take of $16.06 million. That represented a 4 percent increase over the previous week and brings the film's current domestic total to a promising $33.72 million.

Fellow Best Picture nominee The Imitation Game followed in fifth place with $0.626 million. Like Selma, The Imitation Game was also up 17 percent over Wednesday. The Weinstein Company release was down a slim 25 percent from last Thursday. The Imitation Game placed in sixth for the week with $9.89 million. The film was down just 5 percent from the previous frame and has grossed $53.51 million to date.

Fellow Weinstein Company release Paddington placed in sixth with $0.603 million. The well received family film increased 6 percent over Wednesday. For the week, Paddington finished just behind The Wedding Ringer to take third place for the frame with a seven-day start of $27.67 million. Paddington is performing in line with expectations and is running 1 percent behind the $27.96 million seven-day take of last year's The Nut Job.

Meanwhile, Universal's Blackhat rounded out its first week of release with a tenth place take of $0.282 million. The Michael Mann directed film starring Chris Hemsworth grossed a very disappointing $5.43 million in its first seven days. Blackhat landed all the way down in eleventh for the week and will obviously fade away from theatres quickly.

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hungergamemockingjay.pngBy Shawn Robbins

What became seemingly inevitable over the holidays finally came to fruition on Wednesday: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, with an otherwise anti-climactic daily gross of $106,407, overtook Guardians of the Galaxy as North America's top domestic grosser of 2014. The former's total now stands at $333.18 million -- topping the latter's most recently reported tally of $333.17 million.

Why, nearly one month into the new year, is this newsworthy?

For starters, it's the first time any franchise has ever "won" back-to-back box office years. For all the Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Twilight, and superhero movies out there, Katniss Everdeen is the first iconic character to champion two straight calendar victories. (Of course, scheduling, competition, and a bevy of other factors weigh in here... but that's beside the point.)

By extension, it's also the first time any studio has won back-to-back years in the modern box office tracking era (an impressive feat for the recently-minted seventh major studio, Lionsgate).

BoxOffice previously analyzed the full perspective of what Mockingjay - Part 1's top annual ranking could mean before the film's release last November. The penultimate franchise chapter may have fallen somewhat short of many industry expectations, but that's a minor footnote against an otherwise impressive accomplishment. Nothing is taken away from Guardians' spectacular run either.

For what it's worth, this is the second straight year the Hunger Games franchise upset Disney and Marvel for the top domestic spot (Catching Fire led the way past Iron Man 3 in 2013). Will the story repeat again for 2015 as Lionsgate closes out its biggest success to-date come November? Possibly, but we're fairly confident Disney's Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Avengers: Age of Ultron will have something to say about that.

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