‘The Brothers Grimsby‘ marks the lowest opening of Sacha Baron Cohen’s career, while ‘The Young Messiah’ and ‘The Perfect Match’ also fall flat; ‘Zootopia’ earns a massive $50 million in its second weekend to speed past the $400 million mark worldwide.
Disney Animation Studios’ Zootopia continued to rule the roost in its second weekend, while the J.J. Abrams-produced 10 Cloverfield Lane opened to a pleasing $25.2 million in North America.
Elsewhere, there was out-and-out carnage. Sacha Baron Cohen’s comedy The Brothers Grimsby debuted to a dismal $3.2 million, the worst opening of all time for the British comedian. Fellow new offerings The Young Messiah and The Perfect Match fared only slightly better.
Zootopia enjoyed an incredible hold in its second weekend, falling a scant 33 percent to $50 million from 3,827 theaters for a domestic total of $142.6 million. Overseas, the news was just as good. Zootopia took in another $83.1 million for a foreign tally of $288.7 million — including a record $109 million in China — for a global haul of $431.3 million.
Also overseas, Lionsgate’s The Divergent Series: Allegiant began rolling out a week ahead of its domestic debut, grossing $26.7 million from 45 markets and coming in No. 1 in France ($5 million), Brazil ($2.8 million) and Italy ($1.8 million).
10 Cloverfield Lane, playing in 3,391 theaters, is a win for Paramount and Abrams, who is a bigger draw than ever in the wake of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Abrams deems the movie a “spiritual successor” to his 2008 found-footage hit Cloverfield, versus a literal sequel. As with Cloverfield, much about the new film was shrouded in secrecy in the weeks leading up to its release.
This time, a young woman finds herself trapped in a shelter by two men who claim the outside world has been devastated by a chemical attack. 10 Cloverfield Lane, costing a modest $13 million to make, earned a B- CinemaScore and stars John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr.
The pic skewed heavily male, or 61 percent (that was a big problem for Brothers Grimsby, since it also was 60 percent male). Dan Trachtenberg was hired by Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions and Paramount to direct from a script by Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken and Damien Chazelle. It debuted to $1.5 million from six foreign markets, Australia being the biggest, for an early global total of $26.7 million.
“This was a small movie made to feel like a big movie,” said Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore. “We accomplished that by having a very compact campaign that began two months ago.”
Brothers Grimsby, coming in No. 8, was skewered by many critics and received a B+ CinemaScore. Sony took over distribution duties from Paramount in 2014 and planned to unfurl the pic in July 2015. But following the hack and a change in leadership, the film’s release was pushed back several times, eventually landing on March 11.
The news is also grim overseas, where Brothers Grimsby earned just $3.2 million from 34 markets this weekend for a foreign total of $11.2 million and global cume of $14.4 million. The pic is also flailing in the U.K., where it opened several weeks ago and has earned $6.2 million to date. The R-rated comedy, costing north of $60 million to make before rebates, is certain to lose money for Sony and co-financing partners LStar Capital and Village Roadshow Pictures.
In the comedy, Cohen stars as Nobby, a sweet but dim-witted English football hooligan from the town of Grimsby who reunites with his long-lost brother Sebastian (Mark Strong), a deadly MI6 agent. Together, they set out to stop a massive global terror attack. (The raunchy film boasts a scene in which presidential contender Donald Trump accidentally contracts AIDS.)
Cohen’s last comedy, The Dictator, opened to $17.4 million domestically in 2012, while Bruno debuted to $30.6 million in 2009. And in 2006, box-office sensation Borat launched with $26.5 million.
“Sacha worked really hard, and the marketing department worked really hard. We think we have a really funny movie, but for whatever reason, it didn’t convert,” said Sony distribution chief Rory Bruer, whose studio endured more misses than not in the last year. Sony hopes to see its fortunes turn around with upcoming titles including Miracles From Heaven, The Angry Birds Movie, Ghostbusters and Inferno.
The Young Messiah and new romantic comedy The Perfect Match both beat Brothers Grimsby. Perfect Match fared the best among the three new films, considering it is playing in far fewer theaters, or 925 locations.
From Codeblack Films and Lionsgate, Perfect Match debuted to $4.2 million, placing No. 6. The rom-com stars Terrence J, Cassie Ventura, Paula Patton and Donald Faison and tells the story of a committed bachelor who accepts a bet to stick to one woman for a month. Queen Latifah executive produced the pic.
The Young Messiah, based on Anne Rice’s book about Jesus as a boy, opened at No. 7 with $3.4 million from 1,761 theaters despite an extensive outreach campaign targeting churches across the country. The film, distributed by Focus Features, does boast an A- CinemaScore.
Among holdovers, Deadpool continued to wield its power, coming in No. 3 with $10.8 million for a domestic total of $328.1 million. London Has Fallen followed with $10.7 million in its second weekend (a 51 percent decline) for a $38.9 million cume.
Tina Fey’s comedy Whiskey Tango Foxtrot rounded out the top five, making up ground after a disappointing start last weekend. The war dramedy fell 38 percent to $4.6 million for a domestic total of $14.6 million.
At the specialty box office, Gavin Hood’s drone drama, Eye in the Sky, debuted in five theaters to $117,050 for a location average of $23,410, a solid number considering the tough subject matter. Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman and Barkhad Abdi star in the British film, which Bleecker Street is handling in the U.S.
Sally Field’s Hello, My Name Is Doris debuted in four theaters, earning $85,240 for a location average of $21,301. The well-reviewed film, from Roadside Attractions and Sony’s Stage 6 Films, marks Field’s first starring role in a feature film in a decade and tells the story of a 60-plus woman who falls for a much younger co-worker.
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