Clint Eastwood’s “Trouble With the Curve” failed to hit a home run in its debut, as the cop drama “End of Watch” and the thriller “House at the End of the Street” wound up in a virtual tie for No. 1 at the weekend box office.
Relativity’s “House at the End of the Street,” which stars Jennifer Lawrence, took in an estimated $13 million from 3,083 locations. "End of Watch" rolled up the same figure from 2,730 theaters and its relatively strong showing represents a coup of Open Road Entertainment.
Monday's final figures will determine who winds up on top, but regardless, it is clear that the box office hasn't shake the blahs. The overall weekend looks to be down about 20 percent from last year's comparable week, marking the fourth straight weekend the box office has been lower.
In its second week, the Weinstein Company expanded Paul Thomas Anderson’s Scientology-inspired tale “The Master” into 788 theaters in 135 markets and the agressive move paid off. Boosted by a big Saturday night, it took in $5 million from 788 screens for a strong $6,345 average. Last week the movie, which stars Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, posted the year's biggest specialty box office opening, taking in $729,745 from five theaters in New York and Los Angeles.
Also read: Clint Eastwood's Chair Speech Could Boost 'Trouble With the Curve' Box Office
"Trouble With the Curve," Eastwood's baseball picture from Warner Bros., didn’t totally strike out. It was just behind the leaders at $12.7 million in its first three days, but that was less than the studio was hoping for and well below analysts’ expectations.
They had predicted the film would land in the $18 million range for the weekend, expecting the PG-13 Warner Bros. movie to get a boost from the buzz surrounding Eastwood’s recent speech at the Republican National Convention.
It was at 3,212 locations, the most of any movie. The critics were lukewarm but audiences gave it a “B+” CinemaScore. The mature audiences the film targeted tend not to rush out on opening weekend, so the coming weeks offer hope for a rebound.
Eastwood hasn’t been seen in a film since 2008, when Sony’s “Gran Torino” rolled up $148 million after a $29 million wide debut. Eastwood wrote, directed, starred in and even sang a song for that one. In 2004, he directed “Million Dollar Baby,” which won Best Picture and went on to make $104 million.
“Trouble With the Curve” is the first film that Eastwood has starred in that he has not directed himself in since 1993’s “In the Line of Fire,” which was directed by Wolfgang Peterson. Producer Robert Lorenz, who was first assistant director on “Million Dollar Baby” and “Mystic River,” had the helm on this one, working from a script by Randy Brown.
"House at the End of the Street" scored a direct hit with its target demo. It played very young — 70 percent of those who bought tickets were under 25 — and 61 percent female.
Its overall CinemasScore was a “B,” but audience members under 18 gave it an “A-.”
Also read: Jennifer Lawrence Heats 'House at the End of the Street' at Box Office
Elizabeth Shue and Max Theriot co-star, and Mark Tonderai directs the tale of a mother and daughter who move into an upscale rural home and discover a town's chilling secrets.
Relativity acquired the rights to market and to distribute the film in the U.S. for $2.5 million. The film was independently produced by Film Nation and A Bigger Boat with a production budget just under $10 million.
It was originally scheduled to debut on April 20, but Relativity timed its release in part to capitalize on the Aug. 18 DVD release of “The Hunger Games,” the spring blockbuster starring Lawrence.
"We always thought this was more of a fall film," Relativity's president of theatrical distribution Kyle Davies told TheWrap on Sunday. "Jennifer Lawrence is a rising star and the film itself delivered."
The strong performance of the R-rated "End of Watch" is a success for Open Road, which acquired the $7 million film for much less than that and had gone into the weekend hoping for a debut over $8 million.
It skewed young and male, with 69 percent of the audience under 35 and 54 percent male. It was written and directed by David Ayer, who wrote the screenplay for 2001’s “Training Day.”
Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena star as young officers who are marked for death after confiscating money and firearms from cartel members during a routine traffic stop. Anna Kendrick, America Ferrera, Frank Grillo and Cody Horn co-star.
The weekend's other wide opener, “Dredd 3D,” opened to a disappointing $6.3 million from 2,506 locations. It is a remake of the 1995 movie starring Sylvester Stallone in the comic-based tale of a one-man judge, jury and executioner of the future. Karl Urban stars in the new version.
Disney's "Finding Nemo" finished fourth with $9.4 million in its second week. Sony Screen Gems' "Resident Evil: Retribution," last week's No. 1 film, finished fifth at $6.7 million.