Box Office: Ron Howard's 'Heart of the Sea' Capsizes With $11M U.S. Debut
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay 2' narrowly beats the seafaring epic — starring Chris Hemsworth — to stay at No. 1; Adam McKay's 'The Big Short' mints money in specialty box office debut after earning multiple Golden Globe nominations.
The big-budget seafaring epic cost roughly $100 million to make, excluding marketing costs, so that's a dismal start. And next weekend, things will only get more difficult when Star Wars: The Force Awakens rolls out.
The news isn't much better overseas, where Heart of the Sea expanded into a total of 52 markets, grossing $12.6 million for a 12-day foreign total of $39.4 million and muted global cume of $50.4 million.
In North America, Heart of the Sea came in second to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2, which took in $11.3 million for a domestic haul of $244.5 million. Overseas, the final installment in Lionsgate's YA film franchise took the top spot with $15.4 million for a foreign cume of $320.1 million and worldwide total of $564.6 million.
Heart of the Sea heaps on more bad news for Warner Bros., although the studio's financial exposure is somewhat mitigated by several co-financing partners, including Village Roadshow Pictures. And Warners is hopeful the movie will make up ground overseas, where it began rolling out last weekend.
Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy, Tom Holland, Ben Whishaw, and Brendan Gleeson star in Heart of the Sea, which recounts the sinking of the whaling ship Essex in 1820, the inspiration for Herman Melville's Moby Dick. Despite the cast, the subject matter kept younger moviegoers away, with more than 46 percent of the audience over the age of 50, according to CinemaScore.
Critics, whom older adults rely on in making their moviegoing decisions, ravaged Howard's latest outing; audiences were more impressed, giving it a B+ CinemaScore.
Overall revenue tumbled 10 percent from last year as Heart of the Sea got beached. Elsewhere, Pixar and Disney's The Good Dinosaur came in No. 3 with $10.5 million for a domestic total of $89.7 million and global cume of $187.9 million. Ryan Coogler's Creed — a much-needed win for Warners — placed No. 4 with $10.1 million for a domestic total of $79.3 million. Legendary and Universal's holiday horror-comedy Krampus rounded out the top five, falling 51 percent in its second weekend for a domestic cume of $28.2 million and worldwide total of $37 million.
One bright spot this weekend was Adam McKay's The Big Short, which opened in eight theaters in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Chicago after scoring four Golden Globe nominations, including best picture in the comedy/musical category. It was also named best ensemble by the National Board of Review, and landed a SAG nomination for best ensmeble. The financial drama, based on the book by Michael Lewis, stars Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt, whose Plan B produced the movie for Paramount.
Big Short grossed $720,000 for a location average of $90,000, one of the best showings in recent times and the best ever for a title opening in eight locations. The previous record-holder was Memoirs of a Geisha ($85,313). Big Short, earning an A CinemaScore, opens nationwide Dec. 23.
Paramount originally planned to open Big Short in March, but moved it up after test screenings. "That's when we knew we had something very special. Adam made a very smart movie, which at the same time has a wry sense of humor," said Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore. "It was as good of a weekend as we could have hoped for."
Among other films landing key Golden Globe and SAG nominations, Todd Haynes' Carol saw an uptick as it upped its theater count from four to 16, grossing $336,924 for a location average of $21,058 and pushing its domestic total to $1.2 million for The Weinstein Co. Tom McCarthy's Spotlight, which went nationwide several weeks ago, jumped the $20 million mark, earning $2.5 million from 1,089 locations for a total $20.3 million for Open Road films. John Crowley's Brooklyn followed at No. 9 with $2 million from 947 theaters for a cume of $14.3 milion for Fox Searchlight.
Elsewhere at the specialty box office, Spike Lee's Chi-Raq, the first movie from Amazon Studios, fell more than 50 percent in its second outing, grossing $573,580 from 285 theaters for a location average of $2,013 and 10-day total of $2.1 million. Roadside Attractions is releasing the film theatrically on behalf of Amazon.