Box Office: No Easter Resurrection for Johnny Depp's 'Transcendence'

2:52 PM PST 04/18/2014 by Pamela McClintock

UPDATED: The $100 million sci-fi epic is losing the Easter weekend race to holdovers "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "Rio 2," as well as new Christian film "Heaven Is for Real."

Sci-fi epic Transcendence is bombing in its Easter weekend debut, marking another major box-office disappointment for Johnny Depp after The Lone Ranger and Dark Shadows. The $100 million movie is even losing to Heaven Is for Real, the latest faith-based title to prosper at the box office.

Transcendence, coming in No. 4 on Good Friday with an opening-day gross of $4.8 million from 3,455 theaters, may have trouble crossing $13 million for the weekend after receiving scathing reviews and a dismal C+ CinemaScore. Transcendence intends to make up ground overseas, where it is getting a coveted day-and-date release in China.

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Marvel and Disney's Captain America: The Winter Soldier placed No. 1 on Friday with $9.7 million from 3,825 locations, and is tipped to win its third consecutive weekend with $25 million (to boot, it should hit the $200 million mark at the domestic box office on Sunday). Fox's Rio 2 came in No. 2 Friday with $9.7 million from 3,975 theaters for a projected $23 million weekend, pushing its domestic total to $76 million through Sunday.

Heaven Is for Real, opening on Wednesday, continues to exceed expectations. The Christian film, released by Sony's TriStar label and earning an A CinemaScore, came in No. 3 Friday with a stellar $7.8 million from 2,417 locations for a projected $20 million weekend. That would put its five-day debut at $27 million.

Produced by influential pastor T. D. Jakes, director Randall Wallace and Hollywood veteran Joe Roth, Heaven Is for Real stars Greg Kinnear. The drama is doing strong business in the country's Bible Belt, but is also appealing to mainstream audiences.

Heading into the weekend, no one expected Heaven Is for Real to beat Transcendence.

Alcon Entertainment co-financed Transcendence with China's DMG Entertainment, while Warner Bros. is handling domestic distribution duties. Summit International sold Transcendence overseas to independent distributors, covering much of the budget. Straight Up Films developed the project, and brought it to Alcon.

Outside of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides in 2011, Depp's most recent films -- Lone and Ranger, Dark Shadows and The Rum Diary -- have struggled badly in the U.S. Generally speaking, he remains a far more potent star overseas, although Lone Ranger and Dark Shadows still bombed. Depp was paid a reported $20 million for Transcendence.

Marking the directorial debut of cinematographer Wally Pfister -- a favorite of Christopher Nolan's -- Transcendence stars Depp as a brilliant scientist whose mind is uploaded into a computer after he is gunned down. Rebecca Hall and Morgan Freeman also star, while Nolan and his wife, Emma Thomas, served as executive producers.

Easter weekend sees two other new nationwide offerings -- A Haunted House 2 and Disney documentary Bears.

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IM Global's Haunted House 2 placed No. 5 Friday with an estimated $4 million from 2,310 theaters for a projected three-day debut in the $9 million to $11 million range, compared to roughly $18 million for the first film. Open Road Films is distributing the comedy-horror title, which reteams director Michael Tiddes and star Marlon Wayans.

Haunted House 2, a follow-up to the 2013 box office hit, cost just $3 million to produce. Wayans co-wrote the script with his longtime filmmaking partner Rick Alvarez.

Bears is doing slightly less than expected, placing No. 9 Friday with $2.3 million from 1,720 theaters for a projected $5 million weekend. Directed by Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey, the nature documentary follows a family of grizzly bears living in Alaska. John C. Reilly narrated the film.

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