HIDDEN FIGURES | 20th Century Fox
HIDDEN FIGURES | 20th Century Fox

Before we get to the obvious No.1 film, let’s take a look at how “Moonlight” performed this weekend. In a move to capitalize on the film’s Oscar wins, including Best Picture, A24 expanded the film this weekend to 1500 screens, which is the largest release the film has had domestically. Previously it had only played, at the most, on just over 1,100 screens.

The film grossed $2.3 million putting it in 12th place this weekend, performing in line with recent Best Picture Oscar winners that also saw theatrical expansions following the Academy Awards ceremony. But a reason for the seemingly less than stellar number in this specific case could be due to the fact that “Moonlight” had already been out on home VOD platforms for about 2 weeks, and was released on DVD last week Tuesday. As a result, those who hadn’t already seen the film in theaters, an were interested in doing so (likely a lot), preferred to stay home and watch it at their convenience, rather spending more money to see it at a theater. It might have worked better if A24 had released the film wider a few weeks ago, after the Oscar nominations were announced, and before it come out on VOD.

But compared to other recent Best Picture Oscar winners that also saw post-Oscar theatrical expansions – “Spotlight” and “Birdman” – “Moonlight’s” $2.3 million in a total of 1,564 theaters, averaging $1,618, was better than “Spotlight’s” $1.76 million in 1,227 theaters the weekend after the Academy Awards, averaging $1,439; and “Birdman’s” $1.9 million in 1,213 theaters, for a $1,586 average. Although both films grossed totals of $45 million and $42.3 million respectively through their entire theatrical runs, and it’s very unlikely that “Moonlight”, currently at a $25 million gross, will get anywhere close to those numbers by the end of its theatrical run.

“Barry Jenkins’ modern-day masterpiece, which also won Oscars for screenplay and supporting actor, and was made for just $1.5M, has also climbed to the top of the charts on all other cable and digital platforms domestically, while also continuing to excel overseas in the early days of the international theatrical rollout,” distributor A24 said this morning.

Its $25+ million domestic gross is an excellent result for a film that cost only $1.5 million to make. By comparison, “Birdman’s” budget was $18 million, and “Spotlight” was made for $21 million. So, “Moonlight” is the more profitable of the 3, earning 16 times its budget, compared to the other 2 at between 2 and 2.5 times their budgets.

In addition, it is still doing very well overseas with $7.84 million to date – just over $2 million of that from France, which is still the highest grossing foreign country for “Moonlight”, with the UK following behind at No. 2 earning $1.6 million.

The big winner this weekend was of course Fox/Marvel’s third, and supposedly last, Wolverine film “Logan”, which is the best reviewed superhero comic book film in years. Boosted by a well deserved R-rating, the film plays to everyone, and even to those (like me) who don’t know a damn thing about the Marvel comic universe. It’s a raw, violent, and even moving stripped down action film, with thankfully none of the over saturated CGI effects that we’ve seen in other superhero movies – like entire cities being destroyed – which should be played out by now.

No surprise then that the film opened with $83.5 million, the fifth best opening ever for an R-rated film – excellent numbers for a film that cost a reported $80 million to make, which, of course, is a lot of money; but compared to what is usually spent on superhero movies, it’s practically a low budget affair. And it goes without saying that the film will be a box office monster internationally as well.

The other good news is about the Universal/Blumhouse horror film “Get Out” which came in second with $26 million, for a total of just under $76 million to date. The amazing thing is that the film dropped off only 22% from last weekend, which is actually a rare small drop-off for a hardcore horror film. Normally horror films see a huge second weekend drop-off of around 50% or more.

However excellent word of mouth – being the right film at the right time (as I discussed last week) – and very positive reviews (except for of course Armond White who always wants to spoil everything) are giving “Get Out” strong box office legs. Predictions now are that the film could easily reach or surpass $130 million equaling Blumhouse’s other big hit this year “Split” (which is the ninth highest worldwide grossing film so far this year), giving them 2 of the most profitable films of the year. And it’s only March.

Coming up in third place is the faith-based film, Lionsgate’s “The Shack” with Octavia Spencer playing God (or a reasonable facsimile), earning $16 million.

But the big loser this weekend (and there always seems to be one) was Open Road’s YA film “Before I Fall”, which couldn’t even crack $5 million. It was yet another box office loser for Open Road who have been struggling to find a real box office winner, since the company was launched. So far their highest grosser still is the 2014 animated film “The Nut Job”, which grossed $64 million domestically. And it should be no surprise that it’s getting a sequel, which will be out in August.

But the box office weakness of “Before” proves once again the uncertainty of the wide appeal that movies based on young adult novels have. With the exception of the the Harry Potter franchise, “Twilight,” and “Hunger Games’ films very few movies based on YA novels have really caught fire at the box office; and some were complete flops. But Hollywood seems stuck on making them, still looking for that elusive hit.

“Hidden Figures”, with $158 million to date and still counting, has now out-grossed other Fox movies domestically, such as last year’s “X-Men: Apocalypse” ($155,442,489), 2011’s “X-Men: First Class” ($146,408,305) and 2013’s “The Wolverine” ($132,556,852). Does this mean that more serious and uplifting films about black women will be greenlit by Hollywood studios? Or just more movies about black women in general – all genres, varied stories set in the past and present, centered around black women characters? We’ll see. But I wouldn’t hold my breath, given Hollywood thinking, and what’s happened previously when films with black casts are huge box office success, surprising studio executives, but not really anyone else; certainly not black people.

But “Figures” has now almost reached the box office status of “Straight Out of Compton”, which grossed $161 million domestically, and $201 million worldwide; and at $190 million worldwide total “Figures” will easily beat “Compton’s” numbers both here and abroad.

The top 12 grossing films for the weekend follow below:

1) Logan Fox $85,300,000
2) Get Out Uni. $26,110,695 Total: $75,954,335
3) The Shack LG/S $16,100,000
4) The LEGO Batman Movie WB $11,650,000 Total: $148,631,801
5) Before I Fall ORF $4,948,538
6) John Wick: Chapter Two LG/S $4,725,000 Total: $82,865,972
7) Hidden Figures Fox $3,825,000 Total: $158,765,439
8) The Great Wall Uni. $3,507,120 Total: $41,268,425
9) Fifty Shades Darker Uni. $3,484,770 Total: $109,912,085
10) La La Land LG/S $2,975,000 Total: $145,684,362
11) Fist Fight WB (NL) $2,875,000 Total: $28,301,175
12) Moonlight A24 $2,529,926 Total: $25,382,307