‘Mr. Peabody’ Chasing Down Sputtering ‘Need for Speed’ at Box Office

Aaron Paul’s hot cars top Friday but may not crack $20 million. ‘Single Moms Club’ goes thud, ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ stays hot

Last Updated: August 4, 2014 @ 10:56 AM

Aaron Paul’s hot car movie, “Need for Speed,” took the pole position at the box office Friday, but “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” is a good bet to pass it for No. 1 this weekend.

DreamWorks’ 3D video game-based action film led with $6.6 million on its first day, which puts it on pace for a three-day total of around $18 million. That’s well under the $25 million analysts and distributor Disney had projected — despite “Speed” being in 3,115 theaters, 90 percent of which were 3D.

Gamers likely powered “Need for Speed” to a solid $1.1 million in Thursday night screenings, but the soft Friday suggests it’s having a tough time connecting with moviegoers beyond its core audience despite the presence of Paul, a former star on the hit TV show “Breaking Bad.” It could pick up speed, but the reviews have been weak and it received just a “B+” CinemaScore from first-night audiences.

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DreamWorks Animation’s “Peabody,” distributed by Fox, took in $5.4 million on Friday. That’s just a 31 percent drop from last week, and the PG-rated kids movie, based on a segment of the 1960s TV cartoon “Rocky and Bullwinkle”, should get a big boost from families on Saturday and Sunday. Being in a market-high 3,951 theaters won’t hurt either, and it will likely finish in the $22 million range.

“300: Rise of an Empire,” last weekend’s No. 1 movie, came in second on Friday with $5.8 million. That puts Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros.’ R-rated sword-and-sandals saga on track to battle with “Need for “Speed” for No. 2 at around $18 million, and raises its domestic total to $65 million. It’s added more than $88 million from overseas.

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The weekend’s other wide release, “Tyler Perry‘s Single Moms Club,” landed with a thud. The PG-13 comedy-drama brought in $3.2 million Friday and likely won’t crack $10 million for the weekend. That’s below the mid-teen millions projected by analysts and distributor Lionsgate, and would be the weakest debut ever for movie written and directed by Perry, who is putting his film career on hold to focus on TV work. It received an “A-” CinemaScore.

Wes Anderson‘s “Grand Budapest Hotel,” which last week averaged more than $200,000 per screen in a record-breaking four-theater debut, expanded to 66 theaters and took in $1.1 million. That’s $16,705 per screen – the best of any film in release – and pencils out to a strong $3.7 million three-day total for Fox Searchlight.

“Veronica Mars,” based on the TV show of the same name that came to the big screen via a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign, looks like it will crack the top ten. Warner Bros. opened “Mars” in 291 theaters and it brought in roughly $1 million, which translates to a $2.7 million weekend. It was also made available for download Friday, but streaming problems had some of the film’s contributors seething.

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“Bad Words,” the R-rated spelling bee comedy in which Jason Bateman makes his directorial debut and stars, opened in six theaters and took in $38,000. That’s a $6,312 per-screen average, the second-best in the marketplace.

Universal’s Liam Neeson thriller, “Non-Stop,” took in $3.1 million Friday – just a 32 percent drop from last week. The action film is heading for a $10.7 million third weekend, which would up its domestic total to nearly $70 million.

Overall, the weekend was pacing roughly 15 percent ahead of last year, when “Oz the Great and Powerful” led the way with a $105 million second week.