It’s a chicken or egg scenario. Do studios dump their less attractive properties on Super Bowl weekend because they know fewer people will be going to the movies? Or do fewer people go to the movies on Super Bowl weekend because nothing opening that weekend ever looks that attractive? Americans have to do something with their Friday and Saturday other than just slow-cook the brisket. Then again, if a Coen brothers comedy starring George Clooney, Channing Tatum, and Scarlett Johansson can’t draw a big crowd, maybe the Super Bowl is radioactive to ticket sales. Or maybe a must-see to The A.V. Club is just much different than a must-see to America on a whole.
Hail, Caesar! did manage to beat every new film it was competing against, though even that wasn’t enough to secure it the weekend: Landing in second place, behind returning champion Kung Fu Panda 3, the Coens’ film made about half of its budget back with $11.4 million—less than what any of the directors’ previous wide-release efforts made out of the gate, and unlikely to improve, if the dismal C- CinemaScore is any indication. (Though maybe it isn’t. CinemaScore is very selective and stupid, remember.) Speaking of the weakest opening from an established auteur, The Choice’s $6 million debut is lower than any previous Nicholas Sparks adaptation, which we’re optimistically, uh, choosing to believe is a sign that the romance novelist’s stranglehold on February could be loosening. In any case, The Choice did manage to squeak past Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, whose $5.2 million opening suggests that some great tastes—like Abraham Lincoln and vampires, to reference another flop based on a Seth Grahame-Smith mashup, as well as another Benjamin Walker starring vehicle—do not taste great together.
But the Super Bowl couldn’t stop one ongoing success story: In its eighth weekend in release, Star Wars: The Force Awakens became the first film ever to cross $900 million in the United States and only the third—behind two James Cameron juggernauts—to hit $2 billion internationally. Those who watched the Super Bowl last night saw plenty of 30-second appeals for you to finally stop going to that same movie you’ve been seeing since December and spend some cash on a new blockbuster, but something tells us that only Captain America’s mighty shield will stop the Millennium Falcon in its track. Not until May, in other words, will Star Wars probably finally disappear from the marquee of your mall multiplex.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.