“Noah” was headed for high ground at the box office Saturday, after a $15.2 million first-day Friday put Darren Aronofsky‘s controversial big-screen retelling of the Old Testament tale on pace for a $40 million weekend.
Paramount and New Regency’s effects-laden $125 million Biblical epic, which stars Russell Crowe as the ark builder, has been the center of a buzz storm for months. The “Black Swan” director and studio were at odds as Christian groups complained that “Noah” didn’t follow Scripture closely enough, and studio added a statement at the beginning of the film noting that the movie was a dramatic interpretation.
All that’s translating to box-office heat however, and the PG-13-rated “Noah” will top projections that were in the $35 million range and knock the young-adult sci-fi saga “Divergent” out of the No. 1 spot.
As expected, “Noah” played to an older crowd, with 74 percent of the audience over the age of 25, and the gender split was 50-50. They were all over the map in terms of a CinemaScore, not surprising given how polarizing it’s been. The overall score was a “C,” but 63 percent gave it an “A” or “B,” 23 percent gave it a “C” and 14 percent gave it a “D” or “F.”
The critics have been positive (76 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) on the saga, which co-stars Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson and Anthony Hopkins.
Lionsgate’s Shailene Woodley-Theo James adventure tale was second with $8.2 million Friday, a 54 percent fall from last week’s opening day. That puts “Divergent,” which is still in a market-high 3,936 theaters, on pace for a second weekend in the $25 million range that would raises its domestic total to $94 million.
The weekend’s other wide opener, the Arnold Schwarzenegger drug bust thriller “Sabotage,” brought in just $1.8 million Friday. It’s looking at a three-day total of around $5 million or $6 million for Open Road, which means a third straight flop for the former California governor since he returned to the big screen. The David Ayer-directed action film won’t match the $9.2 million opening of “Escape Plan” and may not equal the $6.2 debut of “The Last Stand.”
“Cesar Chavez,”the biopic about the iconic labor leader from Pantelion Films and Participant Media, opened with just over $1 million from 664 theaters and could crack the top ten with $3 million for the weekend.
Three movies that have been scoring in limited release went wide and two stayed hot.
Fox Searchlight added 673 theaters for Wes Anderson’s R-rated ensemble comedy Grand Budapest Hotel” and it brought in $2.3 million from 977 sites. That’s a 23 percent gain from last week and puts it on pace for an $8 million weekend, which would up its domestic take to $24 million after a month.
“God’s Not Dead,” Freestyle Releasing’s low-budget drama targeting the faith-based crowd, brought in $2.3 million Friday — a 35 percent drop — after expanding into 1 ,164 theaters for its second weekend and should also finish in the $8 million range. That would put it over $20 million in two weeks.
“Bad Words,” the dark, R-rated comedy about a guy crashing a kids spelling bee that was directed by and stars Jason Bateman, isn’t going to make the top ten. It took in $779,000 after Focus Features added 755 theaters in its third week and will come in under $3 million for the weekend.
The race for third was close between kids movies “The Muppets Most Wanted,” back for its second week, and DreamWorks Animation’s “Mr. Peabody & Sherman,” which is in its fourth.
Disney’s “Muppets” sequel could hit $10 million for the weekend after taking in $2.6 million Friday, a 44 percent drop from last week. “Peabody” will be in the same range and will cross $100 million domestically some time this weekend, after a $2.2 million Friday that was off just 19 percent from last weekend.
Warner Bros.’ sword-and-sandals tale “300: Rise of an Empire” is about to cross the $100 million mark in its fourth week. It finished just behind Disney hot-car movie “Need For Speed” on Friday and just ahead of the Liam Neeson thriller “Non-Stop.” They’ll all wind up at around $4 million for the weekend.