‘Focus’ disrobes ‘Fifty Shades’ on U.S. box office
According to studio estimates Sunday, Warner Bros.’ “Focus’’ easily topped all competitors on a weekend with little competition at North American multiplexes. In second place was the Colin Firth spy thriller “Kingsman: The Secret Service,’’ which made $11.8 million in its third week of release.
After two weeks atop the box office, “Fifty Shades of Grey’’ continued its steep slide, landing in fourth with an estimated $10.9 million for Universal Pictures. “Fifty Shades,’’ which has made $486.2 million globally, fell just behind Paramount’s “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water,’’ which earned $11.2 million in its fourth week.
The weekend’s only other new wide release, Relativity’s horror film “The Lazarus Effect,’’ opened in fifth place with $10.6 million.
But the weekend was largely seen, fairly or not, as a referendum on Smith’s star power. “Focus,’’ written and directed by the “Crazy, Stupid, Love’’ duo Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, is Smith’s first film since 2013’s “After Earth,’’ the science-fiction flop in which he co-starred with his son, Jaden.
Smith has been frank about the sting of that film’s box-office performance. “I can’t allow the box-office success, or lack thereof, to determine my self-image,’’ he said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.
But “Focus,’’ made for about $50 million and co-starring Margot Robbie of “The Wolf of Wall Street,’’ was never intended to be a summer-sized blockbuster. It had been predicted to make around $21 million.
“This is a mid-budgeted film with a result that matches,’’ said Jeff Goldstein, head of distribution for Warner Bros., who added that winter storms accounted for a drop of $1-2 million. “There’s no question we got hammered because of inclement weather in the South and the Midwest.’’
The R-rated “Focus,’’ overwhelmingly appealed to adults, with 88 percent of its audience older than 25 - not a good sign for Smith’s appeal to a new generation of moviegoers who weren’t around for his triumphs in “Independence Day.’’
Nevertheless, there aren’t many stars who could do better with a drama in late February. And “Focus’’ should play well internationally, where Smith’s popularity remains strong.
“This still goes on his balance sheet as a number one debut,’’ said Paul Degarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office data firm Rentrak. “He can still draw an audience, particularly with a film that’s R-rated and not aimed at the young crowd.’’
Some of last Sunday’s Oscar winners saw slight bumps at the box office.
Best-picture winner “Birdman (Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)’’ added some 800 screens to bring in $2 million over the weekend, pushing its total past $40 million. “Still Alice,’’ for which Julianne Moore won best actress, added 553 screens and earned $2.7 million. It’s now made $12 million for Sony Pictures Classics.
“American Sniper,’’ far and away the biggest box-office hit of the best-picture nominees, was also easily the top post-Oscars draw. It added another $7.7 million, to bring its cumulative domestic gross to $331.1 million.