2014 'RoboCop': Full-fledged domestic bomb
Directed by José Padilha, and starring Joel Kinnaman and Abbie Cornish, Sony Picture's $100 million-budgeted 2014 RoboCop remake opened with disappointing numbers on Wednesday, Feb. 12. Things improved a bit over the weekend, but there's no denying that the 2014 RoboCop will become a major domestic box office bomb.
According to studio estimates found at Boxofficemojo.com, Padilha's remake of Paul Verhoeven's 1987 “classic” (as mentioned elsewhere on this site, just about anything made before 2003 is considered a classic these days) landed in third place this extended Presidents Day Weekend, Feb. 14–17, trailing both Warner Bros.' overwhelmingly well-received The LEGO Movie and Sony Pictures / ScreenGem's low-budget romantic comedy About Last Night.
Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street), and featuring the voices of Chris Pratt, Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Will Ferrell, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Alison Brie, and Cobie Smulders, The LEGO Movie grossed an estimated $63.51 million at 3,775 theaters over the four-day weekend.
Steve Pink's Los Angeles-set remake of Edward Zwick's 1986 movie starring Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, James Belushi, and Elizabeth Perkins – itself a bastardized film adaptation of David Mamet's play Sexual Perversity in Chicago – About Last Night collected a relatively strong (estimated) $28.49 million from 2,253 venues in its first four days out. In the cast: Michael Ealy, Kevin Hart, Regina Hall, Joy Bryant, Christopher McDonald, and Paula Patton. The not so good news for About Last Night is that it was down each day following its Friday, Valentine's Day, opening; in fact, according to studio estimates it trailed the 2014 RoboCop on Monday.
2014 'RoboCop': Far behind the 1987 'RoboCop'
What should have been a summer blockbuster, the 2014 RoboCop opened at a time of the year when action movies generally have underwhelming debuts and short legs. Not surprisingly, the film's $25.6 million gross over the four-day Presidents Day Weekend was on a par with the (subpar) opening weekend performances of the Bruce Willis actioner Another Day to Die Hard last year and the Nicolas Cage bomb Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance the year before. The former movie, which opened on a Thursday, debuted with $28.64 million at 3,372 sites over the four-day weekend; the latter, which opened on a Friday, collected $25.47 million during the same period. Neither movie managed to hit the $70 million mark in the U.S. and Canada. After six days out, RoboCop 2014's gross stands at $30.3 million. [Update: RoboCop 2014 raked in $25.06 million over the four-day weekend.]
RoboCop 2014 also trailed the Sony Pictures-distributed remake of another Paul Verhoeven “classic” of that era: the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger box office hit Total Recall. A major domestic bomb, the $125 million Total Recall remake directed by Len Wiseman, and starring Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel, and Kate Beckinsale, scored $25.57 million on its first (three-day) weekend out, cuming at a dismal $58.87 million.
And finally, Paul Verhoeven's own RoboCop 1987, made for a reported $13 million (about $27 million today), opened with $8 million at 1,580 locations in mid-July, eventually cuming at $53.42 million domestically. In 2014 dollars, that represents approximately $17 million on opening weekend (at less than half the number of theaters of the RoboCop 2014) and a $114 million cume. RoboCop 2014 will be lucky if it ends its run with $65 million in North America.
The silver lining: After about ten days, RoboCop 2014 has already collected an estimated $69.9 million internationally, and it has yet to open in a handful of major markets, such as China, Japan, and José Padilha's native country, Brazil – where Padilha is best known as the director of the controversial Berlin Film Festival winner Elite Squad and its sequel, Elite Squad 2, officially Brazil's biggest box office hit ever. Also worth noting, Another Day to Die Hard, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, and Total Recall 2012 all fared much better at the international box office.
2014 'RoboCop' cast
Besides Joel Kinnaman and Abbie Cornish, RoboCop 2014 features former Batman Michael Keaton, Michael Kenneth Williams, Jay Baruchel, Jennifer Ehle, Aimee Garcia, Douglas Urbanski, John Paul Ruttan, Patrick Garrow, and Oscar nominees Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Marianne-Jean Baptiste (Secrets & Lies), Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children), and Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction). The RoboCop 2014 screenplay is credited to feature-film newcomer Joshua Zetumer.
Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop 1987 was written by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner. The cast included Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Ronny Cox, Miguel Ferrer, Kurtwood Smith, Robert DoQui, Ray Wise, and veteran Dan O'Herlihy (Best Actor nominee for The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, 1954).
Joel Kinnaman in the 2014 RoboCop image: Sony Pictures.
Zac Efron 'That Awkward Moment' disappoints + may surpass budget on opening weekend
Feb. 4: Zac Efron can be seen this weekend, Jan. 31–Feb. 2, in That Awkward Moment, a romantic comedy directed by Tom Gormican, and co-starring Miles Teller (the star of Sundance double winner Whiplash), Michael B. Jordan (the star of Sundance 2013 double winner Fruitvale Station), and Imogen Poots. (Image: Zac Efron in That Awkward Moment.)
Released by Focus Features at 2,809 North American locations as a sort of “counter-programming” to the Super Bowl, That Awkward Moment had a disappointing debut on Friday, collecting an estimated $2.94 million, according to estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Chances are things aren't going to get all that much better on Saturday before the film plummets – like just about every other movie out there – on Super Bowl Sunday.
'That Awkward Moment' box office: Good news and bad news
Now, first the good news: That Awkward Moment will in all likelihood end up in the black once international box office figures and ancillary revenues are tallied. Zac Efron or no, the film reportedly cost a measly $8 million – and its opening weekend gross will almost surely surpass that figure (though a chunk of the box office gross will remain with the exhibitors). Now, the bad news: All the publicity about Zac Efron and his broken jaw, rehab stint, and potential role in Star Wars 7, failed to ignite moviegoer's interest in the film, which means Efron's latest star vehicle will likely end up with a very, very modest $8.5-$9 million by Sunday evening.
That Awkward Moment will be trailing both the lowbrow comedy Ride Along, starring Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, and most probably Disney's animated feature Frozen. Last year, the big winner on Super Bowl weekend was Jonathan Levine's zombie drama Warm Bodies, starring Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer. Warm Bodies took in $20.35 million at 3,009 U.S. and Canada locations.
That Awkward Moment has a dismal 12 percent approval rating and 4.1/10 average at Rotten Tomatoes. But then again, on the same site Ride Along has a nearly as rotten 26 percent approval rating and 4.6/10 average. Even so, the braindead action comedy is about to top the domestic box office chart for the third consecutive weekend and its domestic gross to date totals $84.66 million. In other words, one can't blame poor reviews for the lowly box office performance of That Awkward Moment.
Also worth noting, Jason Reitman's $18 million-budgeted Labor Day, starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, will likely debut with a paltry $5 million from 2,584 venues.
Official studio box office estimates for Zac Efron's That Awkward Moment, Kate Winslet's Labor Day, and other movies will be released Sunday morning. Weekend box office actuals come out on Monday.
Zac Efron movies' box office
That Awkward Moment is a major hit when compared to a string of recent Zac Efron movies (including ensemble efforts) – all low-budget productions that for whatever reason(s) failed to find a big-screen audience. The combined total box office gross of Liberal Arts, The Paperboy, Parkland, and At Any Price is less than what That Awkward Moment scored on one day.
On the other hand, Zac Efron's latest movie will be performing quite modestly when compared to Efron's 2012 mid-level hit The Lucky One, a Warner Bros.-distributed, $25 million-budgeted romantic drama that pulled in $60.45 million in North America.
Next for Zac Efron is Nicholas Stoller's comedy Neighbors, also featuring Dave Franco, Rose Byrne, Seth Rogen, Lisa Kudrow, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Also, Rob Reiner's thriller You Belong to Me has been announced as a project for both Efron and Harrison Ford.
Zac Efron That Awkward Moment image: Focus Features.
'I Frankenstein' box office: Reboot is year's second domestic box office bomb
Jan. 26: Made for a reported $65 million (not including marketing and distribution expenses), the Lionsgate-distributed I, Frankenstein is surely not about to become a movie franchise. Directed by Stuart Beattie and starring Aaron Eckhart as the “I” of the title, I, Frankenstein collected a dismal $8.3 million from 2,753 North American theaters this weekend, Jan. 24-26, according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. The weekend's only new wide release in the United States and Canada, I Frankenstein landed in sixth place on the domestic box office chart.
I Frankenstein, in fact, is the second major 2014 domestic box office bomb, following the $70 million-budgeted Renny Harlin-Kellan Lutz effort The Legend of Hercules, which debuted with $8.86 million at 2,104 locations a couple of weeks ago. To date, The Legend of Hercules has grossed an estimated $17.01 million; it'll likely end its domestic run with less than $20 million. Just as likely, I, Frankenstein, which has a 0 percent approval rating and 4.1/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics, will suffer the same ignominious box office fate.
Since neither movie is a sequel, international prospects don't look too promising either. Having said that, braindead 3D action fare usually finds lots of fans in certain markets.
I should add that the $60 million-budgeted Kenneth Branagh-Chris Pine-Keira Knightley collaboration Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit should not be considered a downright box office disaster. The Jack Ryan reboot is more like a (major) “domestic box office disappointment,” as to date it has taken in more than $30 million in North America – in addition to an estimated $46.5 million internationally.
The 'I, Frankenstein'-Universal Pictures connection
Curiously, this weekend the top two movies at the North American box office were both Universal releases: Tim Story's lowbrow action-comedy Ride Along, starring Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, and Peter Berg's action-war drama Lone Survivor, starring Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, and Ben Foster. The former took in an estimated $21.16 million; the latter added $12.6 million.
But why “curiously”? Well, Universal was the studio that turned Frankenstein into a movie star back in 1931, when it released James Whale's epoch-making Frankenstein, starring Colin Clive in the title role, Mae Clarke as his bride, John Boles as his friend, and Boris Karloff as his Monster. Universal would later rehash Mary Shelley's character in several other movies, including The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), with Valerie Hobson in the title role and Elsa Lanchester as the Monster's Bride; Son of Frankenstein (1939); and the sort of spin-off House of Frankenstein (1944).
'I, Frankenstein' cast
Besides Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight, Olympus Has Fallen), I, Frankenstein features Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto, Bill Nighy, and Jai Courtney.
Stuart Beattie wrote the I, Frankenstein screenplay from a screen story by himself and Kevin Grevioux. Beattie, whose screenwriting credits include prestigious efforts such as Michael Mann's Collateral, starring Tom Cruise, and Baz Luhrmann's Australia, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, has only one previous directing effort: the 2010 Australian Film Institute Best Picture nominee Tomorrow, When the War Began, featuring Rachel Hurd-Wood.
Note: Several of the I, Frankenstein producers/executive producers – David Kern, Gary Lucchesi, James McQuaide – were also involved in the trashy Underworld movie franchise starring Kate Beckinsale. The Underworld movies tend to underperform in the United States and Canada, but they do fare better internationally.
Shirtless Aaron Eckhart I, Frankenstein photo: Lionsgate Pictures.