After an entire weekend with no real new movies to see, Hollywood finally woke up and gave America two. And yet audiences still largely stayed away from theaters. Yes, “Exodus: Gods and Kings” — after “Noah,” the year’s other full-on Biblical epic, this one retelling the tale of Moses (Christian Bale) — bumped “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1” from its hold on the top of the box office. But it only scared up $24.5 million — not so hot considering the budget was somewhere around $140 million.
In addition to modest returns, “Exodus” also presently stands at a weak 28 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a B- from Cinemascore, which tallies audience responses. The major complaints? That it’s pretty dullsville, with the exception of some cool plagues and Red Sea parting. (Surely the depiction of God as an actual petulant child didn’t go over so well with much of its target audience, though.)
Longtime box office champ “Mockingjay” still held on at $13.2 million, which brought its total to $277.4 million. It’s still going semi-strong, but it’s highly unlikely it will get anywhere close to the $424 million predecessor “Catching Fire” netted last year. That might have less to do with waning interest than in this new chapter featuring its star shooting a single arrow and largely anguishing over the miseries of waging revolution. Stuff will blow up real good in next year’s “Mockingjay — Part 2,” for sure.
The weekend’s other major new release, Chris Rock’s “Top Five,” opened at number only four, with a mere $7.2 million in returns — this despite glowing reviews and the recent viral explosion of Rock’s comments on race, Obama and Ferguson. It did great for its budget of $5 million, though it was sold to Paramount for a steep $12 million, who perhaps expected bigger fanfare. Perhaps it will have word-of-mouth staying power (and psst: it’s really good).
Elsewhere, “Penguins of Madagascar” narrowly trumped “Top Five” with $7.3 million, for the third spot, while “Big Hero 6” grabbed fifth with $6.1 million.
In limited release, “Inherent Vice” — Paul Thomas Anderson’s daredevil Thomas Pynchon adaptation, starring Joaquin Phoenix — had a huge debut, raking in $330,000 from only six theaters, translating into a potent $66,000 per screen average. That’s the fifth highest average of the year, with the top spot still going to “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”
Top 5 earners:
1 ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ $24.5 million
2 ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1’ $13.2 million
3 ‘Penguins of Madagascar’ $7.3 million
4 ‘Top Five’ $7.2 million
5 ‘Big Hero 6’ $6.1 million