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New releases add to the plague of empty theatres at the box office

2015-11-02 11:25

New York - Sandra Bullock's political satire Our Brand Is Crisis and Bradley Cooper's chef drama Burnt added to a pileup of flops at the box office, where new wide releases have gone a startling 0-for-9 in the last two weeks.

After five movies failed to draw moviegoers last week, Hollywood whiffed again over the Halloween weekend as four new movies went largely ignored in favour of trick-or-treating. The 60 Minutes II scandal drama Truth, with Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford, expanding nationwide, and the horror comedy Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse added to a plague of empty theatres.

That enabled the top three films from the last several weeks — The Martian, Goosebumps and Bridge of Spies — to remain atop the ranks, according to studio estimates on Sunday. With an estimated $11m in its fifth weekend, Ridley Scott's 3-D space adventure The Martian has hauled in $180.8m domestically, and led the box office four times — a dominating stretch that has spelled trouble for other releases courting adult moviegoers.

The weekend was never meant to be a big one at theaters with Halloween falling on a Saturday and the latest James Bond film, Spectre (and follow-up to the $1.1bn Skyfall) awaiting release in the coming week. Sony's Spectre, which has opened in a few international markets, scored the biggest U.K. debut ever with $63.8m over the weekend.

But the box office numbers in North America were still especially low, especially for two of Hollywood's top stars.

Hollywood's top stars rank in low numbers

The Weinstein Co.'s Burnt, starring Cooper as a former top chef in Paris, took in $5m despite playing on more than 3 000 screens. Our Brand Is Crisis, David Gordon Green's true tale of political strategists in Bolivia, managed a scant $3.4m on 2 202 screens for Warner Bros. Though made for a modest $28m, the film's opening marks the worst wide-release debut of a movie headlined by Bullock, even falling below the $4.7m of Two if by Sea in 1996.

Sony Pictures Classics Truth, which recounts CBS' reporting on President George W. Bush's military service, expanded to 1 120 theaters, but couldn't even crack $1m. It earned just $901k.

Paramount Pictures' Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse grossed just $1.8m on 1 509 screens. Paramount is experimenting with a shortened theatrical window for the film, along with the recently opened Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension.

A plague of film flops at the box office

Thus far, the trial has yielded mixed results. Major theater chains aside from AMC and Cineplex have refused to play the films, which will be made available digitally 17 days after they leave theaters.

The four flops added to five from last week, when Steve Jobs, Jem and the Holograms, Rock the Kasbah, The Last Witch Hunter and Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension all failed to crack $11m.

"Next week, the whole complexion of this will change," says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box office data firm Rentrak. "But I think this is a really good lesson learned for Hollywood that if you have too much product — particularly aimed at older audiences — you're going to fragment the audience to the point where a lot of movies are going to become casualties of that crowded marketplace."

The two weeks of debuts have also been populated mainly by poorly reviewed movies with the exception of the acclaimed but much criticized Steve Jobs. Instead, the October successes are mostly movies roundly considered good, made by veteran directors: Scott's The Martian and Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies.

Read more on:    box office  |  movies


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