Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea ran aground this weekend, debuting to a measly $11 million.
That’s a decidedly dismal start for the whaling epic, which had a production budget just shy of $100 million. The film did earn a B+ CinemaScore, which means that positive word-of-mouth could help it hold up over the next few weeks, but it’s facing a whale of its own next weekend, as Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters after months of anticipation. And no matter how well In the Heart of the Sea holds up, an $11 million opening is a wretched debut for a movie with a $100 million budget. In the Heart of the Sea stars Chris Hemsworth as a real-life 19th-century sailor, who was stranded at sea with his men after a whale destroyed their ship, the Essex. The story is believed to have inspired Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.
In the Heart of the Sea’s debut is more bad news for Warner Bros., and the studio has had a rough year with several pricey flops, including Jupiter Ascending, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and Pan. While there have been a few bright spots (like Creed), Mad Max: Fury Road and San Andreas are the only WB films to make more than $100 million this year. Warner Bros.’ last release of 2015 will be Point Break, which opens on Dec. 25.
In the Heart of the Sea’s shipwreck cleared the way for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 to top the charts for the fourth weekend in the row, becoming the first movie to do so since Furious 7 all the way back in April. (The Martian spent four non-consecutive weekends at No. 1 in October.) Mockingjay added another $11.3 million to its total this weekend, bringing its domestic gross to $244.5 million.
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As In the Heart of the Sea was this weekend’s only major new wide release, holdovers rounded out the top five. Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur picked up third place, earning $10.5 million for a domestic total of $89.7 million, while Creed was close behind with $10.1 million. Its domestic total is now at $79.3 million. And Krampus fell to fifth in its second weekend, dropping just over 50 percent to $8 million. To date, the Christmas-themed horror movie’s domestic total is now at $28.2 million.
But the biggest success of the weekend came from the specialty box office, where The Big Short bagged $720,000 in just eight locations. That’s a per-theater average of $90,000, one of the best of the year and second only to Steve Jobs’ $130,381. Adam McKay’s film earned a fantastic A CinemaScore and racked up four Golden Globe nominations this weekend, and it will open nationwide on Dec. 23.
Here are this weekend’s top five at the box office:
1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 — 11.3 million
2. In the Heart of the Sea — $11 million
3. The Good Dinosaur — $10.5 million
4. Creed — $10.1 million
5. Krampus — $8 million