UPDATE — Moviegoers are shunning five new titles — “The Last Witch Hunter,” “Rock the Kasbah,” “Jem and the Holograms,” the sixth “Paranormal Activity” and an expanded “Steve Jobs” — in favor of the tried and true this weekend.
Early Friday estimates showed Fox’s fourth weekend of “The Martian” with a slight edge on Sony’s second weekend of “Goosebumps” with about $14 million each for the frame. Matt Damon’s astronaut adventure looks likely to take in as much as $4.5 million on Friday, its 22nd day in multiplexes, and wind up the weekend with a $165 million domestic total.
Of the new arrivals, “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension” is performing best. It’s in line with expectations and should finish in the $9 million to $10.2 million range as the found-footage scarefest will lead Friday with $4.6 million to $5.1 million.
“Ghost Dimension” is launching in 1,656 theaters, compared to 2,867 locations for 2014’s “Paranormal Activity: the Marked Ones.” Many cinema owners are refusing to play the film because of an innovative deal between Paramount, AMC and Canada’s Cineplex to make it available in homes earlier than usual.
Despite strong reviews, “Steve Jobs” is falling short of expectations, which had gone as high as $19 million in recent days. The biopic is expanding from 60 to 2,493 North American theaters, and is expected to take in $7.4 million to $8.3 million after grossing a solid $2.6 million in its first 13 days of release.
“Witch Hunter” is also falling far short of recent estimates, which had ranged from $15 million and $19 million, and will finish in the same range as “Steve Jobs” at 3,082 locations. The supernatural actioner, which stars Diesel as an immortal witch hunter, carries a $70 million price tag but Lionsgate’s financing model limits the studio’s risk exposure to an average of $13 million per film.
“Rock the Kasbah,” starring Bill Murray as a concert promoter who discovers a Pashtun musical sensation, is showing little traction as it debuts on 2,012 screens. The $15 million comedy had been expected to pull in $6 million for Open Road this weekend, but the final number is heading for under $2 million with a quiet $500,000 on Friday.
Universal’s “Jem and the Holograms,” the big-screen version of the 1980s animated TV series about a rock group, is performing almost as poorly as “Kasbah.” It had been expected to take in about $7 million at 2,413 theaters but will wind up in the $1.6 million to $2.2 million range.
However, the financial hit for “Jem” is ameliorated by its modest price tag of $5 million, as it has been produced by low-budget specialist Blumhouse.
“Goosebumps,” which edged “The Martian” last weekend with $23.6 million, continued showing traction Friday with as much as $4.2 million to edge both “Witch Hunter” and “Steve Jobs.”
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Rentrak, said that the market appears to be over-crowded with titles chasing the adult demographic.
“This has to be considered one of the most crowded movie marketplaces of the year and with ‘Steve Jobs’ now joining the fray, the sophisticated adult audience is now even more fragmented,” he said. “Films like ‘The Martian,’ ‘Bridge of Spies,’ ‘Crimson Peak,’ ‘Sicario,’ ‘The Intern’ and ‘Black Mass’ are all courting essentially the same audience and offering a bevy of riches for discerning moviegoers.”
He added, “Hopefully the allure of these movies individually is enough to compel moviegoers to take the time to see each film and not be overwhelmed by the large collective inventory of films.”