As the box office begins to slide from the blockbusters of summer to the prestige pictures of fall, theaters saw what at least one executive called a tough weekend as new releases fell short of predictions and “Guardians of the Galaxy” battled its way back to the No. 1 spot in its fourth week of release, with an estimated $17.6 million.
The result gives "Guardians" a new cumulative total of $251.9 million for the U.S. and Canada, moving it past “Transformers: Age of Extinction” as the No. 1 movie of the summer in North America.
“Being the biggest movie of the season is unbelievably gratifying and a confirmation of the kind of work that the Marvel team has put in,” said Dave Hollis, Walt Disney Studios’ executive vice president of theatrical distribution. He cited the film's momentum and the fact that "it isn’t done with its run."
What does it means to see the movie return to the top spot in its fourth week? “It says people are telling people, ‘You gotta see the movie,’ or they’ve seen it, they love it and they’re coming back to see it again,” Hollis said.
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” which had been No. 1 the previous two weekends, fell to the No. 2 spot, with an estimated $16.8 million. "Turtles" has a cumulative total of $145.6 million in the U.S. and Canada.
The week’s biggest new opener was the young-adult romance “If I Stay,” starring Chloë Grace Moretz and directed by R.J. Cutler. The film brought in an estimated $16.4 million with an audience that was 77% female and 61% under 25. Audiences gave it a grade of A-, according to the polling firm CinemaScore.
“The movie cost $11 million, so this opening is fine for us,” said Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution. “Tracking was a little bit stronger; tracking has been way off for the month of August. They had us at 20 [million dollars], so you get your expectations up a little bit. But we’re very pleased with the result.”
“When the Game Stands Tall,” which stars Jim Caviezel, Michael Chiklis and Laura Dern, is the true story of a Northern California high school football program's rise. It opened in fifth place with an estimated $9.1 million for the weekend.
Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution at Sony Pictures, referred to the potential audiences for the film as “faith-based plus,” while also mentioning the recent release of “Heaven Is for Real.”
“You’ve certainly seen a lot of faith-based films perform quite nicely,” Bruer said. “They have been an underserved audience, but more and more is coming their way. It will continue to build.”
The weekend’s biggest shock perhaps was the estimated $6.5-million opening for “Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,” directed by Miller and Robert Rodriguez. Starring Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson and Eva Green, the film is a sequel to 2005's “Sin City,” which opened to $29.1 million.
“We’re all very disappointed. We weren’t prepared for this level of rejection,” said Erik Lomis, head of distribution for the Weinstein Co.
As to what went wrong, Lomis said: “The first thing that your gut says is it took too long to get it on the screen. I think when the first one came out it was unique, it was different, it was a really cool concept and clearly people didn’t think that about this. It didn’t resonate.”
“Let’s Be Cops” finished at No. 4 with an estimated $11 million, for a new cumulative total of $45.2 million. “The Giver” finished at No. 6, bringing in an estimated $6.7 million in its second weekend for a new total of $24.1 million.
“The Expendables 3” was in seventh place in its second weekend, with an estimated $6.6 million for a total of $27.5 million. “The Hundred-Foot Journey” brought in an estimated $5.6 million for a new total of $32.8 in its third weekend. “Into the Storm” rounded out the top 10 with an estimated $3.8 million over the weekend, for a total of $38.3 million.