'No Good Deed' movie going unpunished to top weekend box office?
Apologies for the bad wordplay above, but if Friday estimates are a reliable indicator, No Good Deed should indeed go unpunished to the top of the domestic box office this weekend, September 12-14, 2014. But why “unpunished”? Well, so far the Sam Miller-directed thriller starring four-time Emmy nominee Idris Elba (Luther) and Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nominee Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) has a downright putrid 10 percent score and 2.6/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics.
Sony Pictures, whose subsidiary ScreenGems is distributing No Good Deed, reportedly opted to skip late Thursday screenings to ensure that the film's plot twist would be kept under wraps. More likely, however, it was the critics' derisive remarks that Sony wanted under wraps. For instance: “The final plot twist is about as fiendishly clever as an episode of General Hospital,” writes Rafer Guzman in Newsday. “Is that a spoiler? You're welcome.”
General Hospital plot twists or no, on Friday, the PG-13-rated No Good Deed collected an estimated $8.8 million at 2,175 locations, averaging a solid $4,046 per theater, while leaving the competition far behind. (More on that below.) Considering its estimated Friday gross – and taking into account an all-but-inevitable Saturday drop – No Good Deed will likely pull in $20-$22 million in the U.S. and Canada; with quite a bit of luck, Sam Miller's thriller could in fact reach as high as $25 million by Sunday evening. That all depends on whether or not No Good Deed moviegoers agree with the critics' take on the movie's twist, or if they see it as something along the lines of Bryan Singer's The Usual Suspects or M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense.
Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, box office update: A remorseless, unrepentant, and unpunished No Good Deed scored a remarkable $24.5 million according to studio estimates released today, averaging $11,264 per site.
Monday, Sept. 15, 2014, box office update: As per official studio figures, Sam Miller's No Good Deed movie grossed $24.25 million, or only slightly less than the estimate released the previous day.
'No Good Deed' budget: A safe box office bet
According to various reports, Sony's No Good Deed movie was budgeted at only $13.2 million, not including marketing and distribution expenses. If that figure is accurate, the film should eventually become – at the very least – a modest domestic hit for the studio.
International prospects for No Good Deed are less rosy – which might help to explain its modest budget. Taraji P. Henson couldn't in any way be considered a box office draw outside the United States, where she has a following thanks to movies targeting urban black audiences, such as Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys and I Can Do Bad All By Myself, in addition to the sleeper hit Think Like a Man and its sequel, the solid-grossing (but relatively speaking, commercial disappointment) Think Like a Man Too. These movies have bombed internationally – that is, whenever they were lucky enough to find distribution.
Idris Elba hardly an international box office draw
Idris Elba, for his part, has done well overseas only as part of visual-effects-laden, ensemble pieces such as Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim (with Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, monster robots, monstrous monsters, etc.) and Ridley Scott's Prometheus (with Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, et al.). Elba was also featured in Alan Taylor's international blockbuster Thor: The Dark World, but that movie's stars were Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, and Tom Hiddleston.
According to the most recent figures found at Box Office Mojo, Idris Elba's previous big-screen effort, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, collected a quite modest $19.01 million internationally, while his 2009 thriller Obsessed, despite the presence of international singing star Beyoncé Knowles, took in a paltry $5.56 million in about 30 markets (vs. $68.26 million domestically; $11.2 million on opening day alone).
'No Good Deed' movie cast
Besides Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson, Sony's No Good Deed movie features Leslie Bibb, Kate del Castillo, Henry Simmons, Frank Brennan, Wilbur Fitzgerald, Kenny Alfonso, Mirage Moonschein, and Kelly O'Neal. Aimee Lagos was credited for the screenplay about a mentally unbalanced escaped convict (Idris Elba) who makes life quite difficult for a woman (Taraji P. Henson) and her two children. William Packer, whose film credits also include Think Like a Man, and this year's Think Like a Man Too and Ride Along, produced No Good Deed along with Lee Clay.
Sam Miller is mostly a television director whose credits include Luther and the TV movie The Quatermass Experiment. Miller's previous big-screen feature film was released 15 years ago: Elephant Juice, with Emmanuelle Béart and Sean Gallagher.
More domestic weekend box office news: 'Dolphin Tale 2,' 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
Warner Bros.' Dolphin Tale 2 may reach somewhere around $17-$19 million, following estimated earnings of $4.26 million at 3,656 locations on Friday, for an inauspicious $1,167 per-site average. Kiddie flicks, however, tend to perform much better on weekends; so expect Dolphin Tale 2 to get quite a bit of a box office bump on Saturday and Sunday, thus landing it not that far below the $19.2 million earned by the original Dolphin Tale three years ago.
Just don't expect the sequel to have nearly as much staying power; Dolphin Tale went on to earn $72.28 million in the U.S. and Canada, in addition to a (reported) more modest $23.11 million internationally. Directed by Charles Martin Smith, the $36 million-budgeted Dolphin Tale 2 stars Ashley Judd, Harry Connick Jr., Best Supporting Actor Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby), and veteran Kris Kristofferson (best remembered as Barbra Streisand's leading man in the 1976 A Star Is Born).
In third place, Disney-Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy added an estimated $2.09 million from 3,104 venues on Friday. Some time earlier today, the James Gunn-directed, $170 million-budgeted fantasy / sci-fier crossed the $300 million mark at the domestic box office. Including its Friday take, Guardians of the Galaxy is expected to pull in $7-7.5 million by Sunday evening. The cast includes Chris Pratt, Avatar's Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Academy Award winner Benicio Del Toro (Traffic), six-time Academy Award nominee Glenn Close, and the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel.
Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, box office update: Dolphin Tale 2 raked in $16.55 million as per studio estimates, landing at no. 2 on the domestic box office chart. The Dolphin Tale sequel averaged a mediocre $4,527 per theater, which means its big-screen life will be quite a bit shorter than that of its predecessor. At no. 3, Guardians of the Galaxy pulled in an impressive $8.04 million (down only 22 percent from the previous weekend), cuming at $305.92 million in the U.S. and Canada.
Monday, Sept. 15, 2014, box office update: According to official studio figures, Dolphin Tale 2 actually grossed $15.87 million, averaging only $3,656 per location. On the other hand, the sturdy-legged Guardians of the Galaxy slightly surpassed studio estimates, bringing in $8.1 million. Its current domestic cume stands at $305.98 million.
Idris Elba No Good Deed movie images: ScreenGems / Sony Pictures.
Chris Pratt Guardians of the Galaxy image: Marvel / Walt Disney Studios.