Weekend Box Office: ‘Focus’ Opened Worse Than ‘After Earth,’ WB Blames The Weather

Will Smith, frequently hyped as one of a dying breed of old school “movie stars” who can open a film on the strength of their name alone, had his worst opening since 2008’s Seven Pounds this weekend, as Focus (Laremy’s review) earned just $19.1 million. It didn’t cost that much to make (reported $50 million production budget) so it won’t be a huge loss, and $19 million was only slightly below expectations, and Warner Bros is blaming that on the weather anyway (never a good sign):

“This was a midrange-budgeted movie, and the strong result reflected that,” said Warner Bros. executive vp distribution Jeff Goldstein. “The severely inclement weather in the Midwest and the South played havoc at the box office.” [TheHollywoodReporter]

The cool thing about the weather is that if it’s really nice, you can say people wanted to be outside in the park and not cooped up in theaters. If it’s blustery and cold, you can say people didn’t want to risk driving to the theaters. I’ll say this, it would have to have been to be pretty nice inside a theater for me to spend 90 minutes of my time watching a movie as bland looking as Focus. We’re talking palm trees and daquiris and sh*t.

Neither critics (56% on RottenTomatoes) nor audiences (B cinemascore) liked it very much, but I’m sure Will Smith knows a few good Pema Chodron quotes that will put it all into cosmic perspective.

Focus finds Smith outside of his comfort zone, which is action comedy, versus dark comedy. His last romantic comedy, Hitch, debuted to $43.1 million in 2005. Focus skewed female (53 percent), while 88 percent of ticket buyers were over the age of 25.

Wait, so Focus was a dark comedy? Did anyone get that from the previews? It looked to me like Will Smith and Margot Robbie in an ad for a Vegas hotel or luxury condo chain.

The bad news is that the film may or may-not approach the $59m domestic total of After Earth or the $58m total of Ali, which would leave the outside-the-box project as Smith’s second lowest-grossing star vehicle outside of The Legend of Bagger Vance. [Forbes]

Again, I definitely didn’t get “out of the box” from the trailers. I got “generic Will Smith vehicle.” Nonetheless, I look forward to never speaking of this movie again.

Elsewhere, The Lazarus Effect, a horror film with an incongruous cast that included Mark Duplass, Olivia Wilde, and Donald Glover, performed like what it was, a movie that was filmed two years ago, opening to a lackluster $10.6 million. Between this and Focus, dare I say audiences are actually getting more discerning? That said, it only cost $3.3 million to make so it’s already profitable, if not close. I kind of wonder what would’ve happened if they’d sold it as some kind of mumblecore relationship movie starring Duplass and Wilde. Something to ponder, I suppose. Not for very long.

Finally, American Sniper made $7.7 million more this weekend, pushing its total to $331.1 million domestic, meaning it will soon surpass Guardians of the Galaxy ($333m) and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay part I ($337m) to become the highest-grossing movie (domestically speaking) of 2014. Which will surely be hailed by pundits as an example of, uh… something… even though American Sniper is mostly just a middling action movie too convoluted to convey any real “message.” Call it a victory for seeing what you want to see, which is maybe the most American thing of all.

Hold on to your balls, because this weekend brings us Unfinished Business, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and Chappie, and I’ve scarcely wanted anything so much as I want a Neill Blomkamp movie about a robot who throws ninja stars starring Die Antwoord. HURRAH, FEBRUARY IS OVER! BRING ON THE ACTUAL GOOD MOVIES! (*throws throwing stars in the air in celebration, hides under coffee table*)