‘The Revenant’ tops chilly box office weekend marred by East Coast weather

‘The Revenant’

Leonardo DiCaprio earned an acting nod for his work in “The Revenant,” which was nominated for a best picture Oscar. 

(Kimberley French / Twentieth Century Fox)

As movie-goers along the East Coast continue battle snowstorms, floods and other inclement weather, cineplexes across the influential region found themselves rather empty this weekend. This left new releases including Sony Pictures’ “The 5th Wave,” Lionsgate’s “Dirty Grandpa” and STX Entertainment’s “The Boy” all well behind box office holdovers.

Placing first was “The Revenant,” released by 20th Century Fox and co-financed by New Regency, with an estimated $16 million in the U.S. and Canada, falling well below expectations. In the fifth week since its limited Christmas Day release, the Leonardo DiCaprio-fronted western epic has grossed $119 million to date.

The 19th century tale of revenge in the unforgiving wilderness, which cost $135 million to make, sits atop the box office following 12 Oscar nominations, including best picture and lead actor (DiCaprio).

Disney’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” took home second place, adding another $14.3 million to its record-breaking run. The latest installment of the space saga has grossed $1.9 billion globally to date, making it the No. 3 movie of all time.

Disney announced Tuesday that its follow up, “Episode VIII,” is pushed back from the original release date of May 26, 2017, to Dec. 15, 2017.

Falling to third place was last week’s box office winner, Universal’s “Ride Along 2.” Though expected to gross around $20 million for the weekend, the Kevin Hart and Ice Cube-starring buddy cop sequel only took in an estimated $13 million.

The sequel to its 2014 predecessor was probably the most affected by the East Coast weather conditions. Considering its $41-million debut over the long Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, the film demonstrated audience interest. But many of the locations where the film performed best were affected by the winter storm and more than half of the sequel’s audience last weekend were under 25, a demographic typically less dedicated than, for example, “The Revenant’s” audience.

Of the new releases, “Dirty Grandpa” fared best with a fourth-place finish. The R-rated comedy met expectations with an estimated $11.5 million in ticket sales. Starring Robert DeNiro as Zac Efron’s foul-mouthed, raunchy grandfather, the film follows the duo as they take a wild spring break trip to Daytona Beach, Fla., before Efron’s character marries his fiance.

Critics and audiences were split on the film. It received a B grade from audience polling firm CinemaScore, but only an 8% positive rating on critic site Rotten Tomatoes.

Rounding out the top five was “The Boy,” STX’s horror offering. With a production budget of only $10 million, the film brought in $11.3 million in its debut. The PG-13 supernatural thriller follows an American nanny hired by an English family to care for a life-sized doll that they treat like a living child.

STX, based in Burbank, co-financed the production with Lakeshore Entertainment. It tracked best with women (62%), those under 25 years old (75%) and with Latinos, which comprised 41% of the audience.

According to CinemaScore, audiences gave the film a B-minus. Rotten Tomatoes critics didn’t like it, giving the picture only a 25% positive ratings.

“The 5th Wave,” from Sony and LStar Capital, landed last of the new releases, in sixth place. Starring Chloë Grace Moretz, it grossed an estimated $10.7 million, falling below the $11-million to $13-million expectations for its domestic debut. Granted, the studio did project a more conservative $8 million for the young-adult novel adaptation.

In the film, Moretz plays a teen trying to save her younger brother in the midst of a series of devastating alien attacks. It cost $38 million to produce. Based on a book by Rick Yancey, the film has performed well with international audiences, particularly in Latin America and Southeast Asia.

On the limited-release front, the Chinese fantasy movie “Monster Hunt” opened this weekend to a measly $21,000 on roughly 40 screens. But the film is a blockbuster in its home country. Last year it became the highest grossing movie ever in China with $381 million.

Next week, the box office battle is expected to even back out with improved weather conditions along the East and a host of new releases bound to pull out audiences. Those include Fox’s “Kung Fu Panda 3,” Open Road’s “Fifty Shades of Grey” spoof “Fifty Shades of Black” and Buena Vista’s thriller “The Finest Hours.”

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