Jem And The Holograms seemed like a sure thing. It was cheap, it had name recognition, and it was opening in almost 2,500 theaters. As late as Friday afternoon, after it had been revealed that the movie had averaged $36 a theater in Thursday night screening, box-office analyst types were still predicting that Jem And The Holograms would make between $4 million and $5 million in the first weekend—mostly because it’s almost impossible for a movie opening in so many theaters to make any less, even if does mostly look like a Disney Channel Original randomly interspersed with YouTube clips.
Almost is the operative word there, because Jem ended up exceeding expectations, though not in the way that director John M. Chu and producer Jason Blum had hoped. Earning just $1.32 million, Jem had the 3rd or 4th worst opening weekend ever for a very wide release. And here’s the thing: Jem isn’t the only movie to join that particular chart this week. Sitting right behind it—in either the 4th or 5th spot, depending on whether or not you count the 10th anniversary theatrical re-release of Saw—is the little-loved Bill Murray vehicle Rock The Kasbah, which made $1.5 million in a little over 2,000 theaters, fulfilling the prophecy of the A.V. Club headline that dubbed it a “smaller, dumber Ishtar.” (Fun fact: Besides actually being a very good movie, Ishtar opened at No. 1 at the box office.)
Every movie that opened or expanded this week either flopped or failed to meet expectations. The Last Witch Hunter—the alternately charming and dispiritingly generic pulp mashup that cast Vin Diesel as an immortal warrior investigating witches in modern-day New York—was expected by many to top the box office despite poor reviews, but it made a mere $10.8 million, landing at No. 4, right behind Bridge Of Spies in its second week. Witch Hunter cost an estimated $80 million to make, and Lord knows how much more to promote, so it’s likely that it’ll end up being the costliest of this week’s financial failure.
Meanwhile, the delayed expansion of Danny Boyle’s much-hyped, Aaron Sorkin-penned Steve Jobs earned only $7.2 million, despite adding 2,433 theaters. Predictions ran as high as $20 million before the weekend; in many ways, the movie seems a victim of its own bizarre release plan, which included a staggered press strategy that, ironically, seemed better fit for the days of the regional newspaper than the digital era. It’s only against a backdrop of pervasive financial failure that a movie opening in 6th place can be deemed a success: Earning far less that any of its predecessors, the latest entry in the Paranormal Activity series will at least help producer Jason Blum re-coup some of the money lost on Jem And The Holograms.
So what actually made money? The Martian, for one. Bounding back into the No. 1 spot with $15.9 million, Ridley Scott’s sci-fi problem-solving exercise is on its way to becoming one of the director’s most popular movies. Goosebumps, which briefly overtook it last weekend, slid a little to No. 2 with $15.5 million.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.