After seven years of waiting, no one knew if a sequel to '300' would do the business of its predecessor. And now we have a definitive answer: yes. '300: Rise of an Empire' effortlessly took the number one spot at the box office, proving that America still loves shirtless Greeks murdering each other in slow motion.
This weekend saw a brutal showdown between Liam Neeson, the current god of action cinema, and Jesus Christ, the current god of millions of human beings. Since the box office is a "two may enter, but only one may leave" type showdown, the victory ultimately went to Mr. Neeson and 'Non-Stop,' which edged out the son of God and his movie, uh, 'Son of God' to win the weekend.
When 'RoboCop' got pushed from an August 2013 release date to February 2014, everyone assumed it would open stronger when far away from the busy summer months. If this is the better of the two options, then we can't even imagine how poorly it would have opened in the warmer months. The remake of the 1987 classic is definitely not a disaster, but it most certainly underperformed.
And here we are: five weeks into the new year and we already have our first major blockbuster of 2014. Early estimates had 'The LEGO Movie' opening big, but the animated adventure shattered all expectations this weekend, with universally positive reviews and word of mouth sending the film to a massive opening.
Unless you had a personal stake in a film being released this weekend, movies were far from the most important thing happening to you these past couple of days. You can blame the weekend's mostly anemic box office on one thing: the Super Bowl. Everyone spent their money buying snacks and preparing their parties and not going to see 'That Awkward Moment' and 'Labor Day,' both of which opened soft.
Ah, a week at the box office where the new release flies completely under the radar and everything else feels like it's just hanging out because there's nothing else to push it off the charts. Welcome to January. Welcome to the home of movies like 'I Frankenstein,' which was dead on arrival this weekend and will vanish into dollar theaters within the next week or so.
In the first truly busy weekend for new releases in 2014, Ice Cube and Kevin Hart took the competition, bent them over the knee and gave them a good spanking. Okay, you probably didn't want the image of those two spanking animated squirrels, demonic babies or Chris Pine in your head, but how else are we going to talk about the opening weekend for 'Ride Along'?
New releases have a habit of floundering in January, which tends to be one of Hollywood's biggest dumping grounds. Even this year's big January horror release, which is commonly a sure thing, floundered. What does tend to do well are the prestige pictures that opened late in the previous year (often in limited release) and finally expand in the new year, riding awards momentum to solid box office.
Of course, this is just a roundabout way of saying that Peter Berg's 'Lone Survivor' emerged from limited release this week to kick everyone's ass at the box office.
Over the past few years, the 'Paranormal Activity' series has established itself as one of the most inexpensive and reliable horror franchises around. Produced for (non-literal) pennies, they've consistently opened strong at the box office, ensuring a fast and efficient turnaround. The latest film, 'Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones,' has already accomplished that goal, but it did so without grabbing the number one spot. Sure, people may love found footage demons, but it turns out that they love animated singing princesses more.