Paramount reports this morning that The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water opened to a stellar $15.1 million on Friday, easily claiming first place. The sequel blew past its 2004 predecessor's (The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie) $9.6 million first day, even topping the $12.8 million inflation-adjusted opening day figure of that film. Given the '04 movie's relatively short legs for a kiddie flick (it earned $85.4 million in all after a $32.0 million opening weekend), it makes Sponge Out of Water's debut all the more surprising. Its opening day also ranks as the second best ever for an "animated" film in February, only behind last year's The LEGO Movie ($17.1 million).
Entering the weekend, industry expectations had SpongeBob pegged for a debut in the mid-30s range, while social media activity didn't indicate significant buzz until the final days before release. The sequel's CinemaScore registered as a "B", although Paramount notes that 50 percent of the audience was under the age of 18 -- that portion gave it an "A-." Meanwhile, critics have given it a solid 74 percent Rotten Tomatoes score while that site's audience vote is an equally solid 78 percent. BoxOffice is projecting a $53 million opening weekend, which would put it in the all-time top five February debuts as well as the top three (led only by The Passion of the Christ and LEGO) in February without the aid of a holiday.
Debuting in second place yesterday was the Wachowskis' Jupiter Ascending as it rang up $6.4 million. While that handily tops the $3.4 million first day of Cloud Atlas back in 2012, it unfortunately is a slow start for the expensive film rumored to have a production budget around $175 million. With a "B-" CinemaScore, poor critical reviews, and a flurry of competition in the market, the film will need to rely on overseas success to recoup expenses. BoxOffice is projecting a $17.8 million weekend.
American Sniper continued to show strong staying power as it eased 37 percent from last Friday to $6.3 million yesterday. With $264.4 million in the bank so far, the film is pacing 42 percent ahead of Gravity and 3 percent behind The Passion of the Christ. BoxOffice projects a $25 million frame.
Seventh Son's first day pulled $2.3 million, well behind the $3.4 million opening day of last year's Pompeii. The oft-delayed release of the fantasy film was a sure sign of an under-performer long in advance, and unfortunately, early reviews and word of mouth don't indicate much will change. BoxOffice is projecting a $6.6 million opening frame.
Project Almanac filled out the top five on Friday as it was off 53 percent from last week to $1.49 million. With $11.9 million grossed in all so far, BoxOffice projects a $5.0 million sophomore weekend.
Meanwhile, The Imitation Game eased 21 percent from last Friday to $1.27 million. The Oscar nominee crossed the $70 million threshold and now has $71.1 million in the bank. BoxOffice projects a $4.9 million frame.