OPENING: Noah (PAR) estimated around $43.7M for weekend’s No. 1; Sabotage (OPRD) tanks in No. 7 with maybe $5.2M; Cesar Chavez (LGF) in limited release. NOTEWORTHY: The Grand Budapest Hotel (FSL) expands for about $8.5M and another strong per screen; Bad Words (FOC) expands to weak result.

Box officeUPDATED, MONDAY, 1:25 PM: The final numbers are in and Paramount’s Noah grossed $43.7M (which includes strong Thursday late nights that started at 7 PM of $1.6M). Freestyle Releasing’s God’s Not Dead did, in fact, rise into the Top 5 and was down only 5% from last weekend, having added theaters, but still a very respectable showing in its second weekend with a solid $7,468 per screen. “It took a village to market the movie,” said Freestyle co-president Mark Borde. “On every conference call there were about 20 people on the conference call.” Gods-Not-Dead-FacebookPure Flix, a faith-based producer of product, produced this picture and it used a marketing company called Working Title Agency in Tennessee to come up with a very arresting one-sheet. “They also had a pre-sales group for tickets and a social media team, just various individuals that managed the YouTube and Twitter and Facebook. To be honest, there is no way to quantify the results of social media, but in this case, I have to say that I believe the social media aspect is a very strong contributor,” Borde said. “The Facebook had over a million likes and they weren’t bought. Not one penny was spent and at any given time, there were over 700,000 talking it at any given time.” It was also trending on Twitter No. 5 and Fandango as No. 3, said Borde, who added God’s Not Dead was actually tracking in the past two weeks.

Related: Biblical and Faith-Based Movies: In Hollywood To Stay?

“We knew that when we showed up in tracking we were going to do OK, but not this OK,” said Borde. “If you add all that together, we had a sense that we were going to be very strong in the marketplace. But the key to success in this movie is word-of-mouth. It’s the reason it’s held. We had the smallest drop of any movie from Saturday to Sunday on the first weekend and on the second weekend — Son Of God was our model and we had the smallest drop again. What that tells me is — we didn’t increase the buys or advertising — that’s word of mouth. That’s better than anything you can buy. There’s a lot of luck in the movie business, but Duck Dynasty stars were embroiled in a big controversy right before this happened and they were on the front page and we had the first movie they were in.”  They also had the very popular Chrstian pop rock band Newsboys. Freestyle Releasing will add about 200 theaters this weekend.

The Grand Budapest Hotel from Fox Searchlight expanded well with an $8.5M take for a per-screen average of $8,741. Opening next weekend is the Disney/Marvel franchise Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which is expected to take all of the air out of the box office as it opens wide and pull in the same demo as Divergent which had two good weekends in a row for Lionsgate and Summit grossing a total of $94.3M. Tracking already shows Captain America at anywhere from $80M-$85M or higher and it has already grossed more than $75M internationally since bowing this past weekend. It’s a total shoot-em-up and more bullets than there are extras in the film. Keeping the previous chart below so anyone who wants to can compare the estimates with the final numbers. Here are the final grosses for the Top 20 via Rentrak:

1). Noah (PAR), 3,567 theaters / 3-day cume: $43.7M / Per screen average: $12,257 / Wk 1

2). Divergent (LGF), 3,936 theaters (0) / 3-day cume: $2.6 (-53%) / Per screen: $6,509 / Total cume: $94.3M / Wk 2

3). Muppets Most Wanted (DIS), 3,194 theaters (0) / $3-day cume: $11.2M (-34%) / Per screen: 3,531/ Total Cume: $33.1M to $33.8M / Wk 2

4). Mr. Peabody And Sherman (FOX), 3,299 theaters (-308) / 3-day cume: $9M (-23%) / Per screen: $2,750/ Total cume: $94.4M / Wk 4

5). God’s Not Dead (FREE), 1,178 theaters (+362) / 3-day cume: $8.7M (-5%) / Per screen: $7,468 / Total cume: $21.7M / Wk 2

6). The Grand Budapest Hotel (FSL), 977 theaters (+673) / 3-day cume: $8.5M (+26%) / Per screen: $8,741 / Total cume: $24.1M / Wk 4

7). Sabotage (OPRD), 2,486 theaters / 3-day cume: $5.2M / Per screen: $2,121 / Wk 1

8). Need For Speed (DIS), 2,705 theaters (-410) /3-day cume: $4.2M (-47%) / Per screen: $1,562 / Total cume: $37.6M / Wk 3

9). 300: Rise Of An Empire (WB), 2,601 theaters (-484) / 3-day cume: $4.2 (-51%) / Per screen: 1,618 / Total cume: $101M / Wk 4

10). Non-Stop (UNI), 2,515 theaters (-430) / 3-day cume: $4M (-38%) / Per screen: 1,595 / Total cume: $85M / Wk 5

11). The Lego Movie (WB), 2,001 theaters (-500) / 3-day cume: $3M (-27%) / Per screen: $1,508 / Total cume: $248.2M / Wk 8

12). Cesar Chavez (LGF), 664 theaters / 3-day cume: $2.8M / Per screen: $4,310 / Wk 1

13). Bad Words (FOCUS), 842 theaters (+755) / 3-day cume: $2.5M (+407%) / Per screen: $3,041 / Total cume: $3.4M / Wk 3

14). Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms’ Club (LGF), 1,139 theaters (-757) / 3-day cume: $1.1M (-64%) / Per screen: $985 / Total cume: $14.9M / Wk 3

15). Son of God (FOX), 1,277 theaters (-862) / 3-day cume: $1M (-61%) / Per screen: $833K / Total cume: $57.8M / Wk 5

16). Monuments Men (SONY), 501 theaters (-437) / 3-day cume: $428K (-55%) / Per screen: $856 / Total cume: $76.5M / Wk 8

17). Frozen (DIS), 387 theaters (-687) / 3-day cume: $337K (-54%) / Per screen: $873 / Total cume: $398.3M / Wk 19

18). Ride Along (UNI), 360 theaters (-290) / 3-day cume: $318K (-49%) / Per screen: $884 / Total cume: $133.6M / Wk 11

19). The Nut Job (OPRD), 294 theaters (-41) / 3-day cume: $312K (-7%) / Per screen: $1,063 / Total cume: $63.1M / Wk 11

20). Lunchbox (SPC), 73 theaters / 3-day cume: $287K (-56%) / Per screen: $3,937 / Wk 5

4th UPDATE, MONDAY 7:36 AM,: Based on Sunday estimates, both Noah and God’s Not Dead appears to have dropped a bit more than expected on Sunday. Noah now looks like it will take in around $43.5M while God’s Not Dead cracked the Box Office Top Five with what is expected to be an $8.7M in its second weekend to push its total to a tidy $21.6M. Both have strong per screen averages: Noah with $12,206 and the latter, $7,406. More to come with final numbers as we receive them.

3rd UPDATE, SUNDAY, 7:15 AM: Noah is going to end the weekend around $44M to $45M, depending on percentage drops on Sunday. The question, of course, is how well it will do in its second weekend for Paramount and whether not it has staying power. The dark epic, which marks star Russell Crowe’s biggest opening in his career, bowed overseas already, first in Mexico and Korea and then expanded this weekend to Russia, Australia and 17 other territories for more than $33M, but to get specific numbers and where it stands in each country, read Nancy Tartaglione’s International Box Office story here. Will it be profitable? Paramount claims a $125M budget, but others have it higher. With marketing and distribution costs added on (both domestically and territory by territory internationally), its questionable whether this will float into profitability. Russell Crowe as NoahWe’ll have to wait and sea … I mean, see. It’s worldwide cume so far is $95M+. On Saturday, most pictures had a nice bump up, with Noah on the lower end with 16% and the kids movies, as always on the higher end (Muppets Most Wanted for instance got a 103% bump Friday to Saturday). Noah draws an older audience and it’s a free-for-all for families on the weekend. However, Noah saw a strong social imprint on the big three this weekend — Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Co-star Emma Watson’s March 21 Q&A garnered heavy traffic on Twitter with nearly 800 tweets per minute at its peak. “Emma Watson was an incredible force to this campaign and she was very focused on doing things that engaged her social media followers and did a takeover on MTV” which pushed audiences to the film, too, noted Paramount’s president of domestic marketing and distribution Megan Colligan. MTV reaches 70M through its own social imprint. Asked about the C CinemaScore and how the exits polls might impact the film’s second weekend, she said: “There’s two different kinds of Cs where people are indifferent about the movie and then there is this type of C,” she said. “We always knew the movie was going to be a bit polarizing and I think we were very aggressive in our marketing. You can see across the board there is a lot of love for the movie. What always made this tricky for everyone is that there hasn’t been a movie like this in 50 years. It’s an epic and also a deeply spiritual film so it runs the gamut of audiences you can tap into. The CinemaScore is a hair misleading in how the people are going to be talking about the movie and how it will play. So we feel really good about how it’s going to play.” It’s worth nothing that Paramount treaded very carefully in bringing this picture to market, engaging faith leaders every step of the way.

Meanwhile, the same demographic that came out for Divergent (LGF) will have Captain America in theaters next weekend. Great news for the 20 year-olds, but bad news for Divergent which will have to contend with their audiences evaporate with a new Marvel/Disney flick in the marketplace. Divergent has made $95.9M to date and will easily cross into the $100M club later in the week and actually stood its ground in its second weekend to take an estimated $26.5M to $27.1M, down 50% on the same number of screens. Insurgent, The second film based on the Veronica Roth YA series of books, goes before the cameras in May, and will be released next year in the same time frame: on March 20. This weekend’s $100M player was 300: Rise of an Empire which charged past the $100M mark for WBros./Legendary after four weeks in release. And then there’s The Lego Movie which is hovering around the $250M for the studio. Well done, Lord of Business.

gods-not-dead-trailer-e1395518856202Freestyle’s God’s Not Dead, the other story of the 3-day weekend, saw only a 1% drop in its second weekend and will take in $9M, just a hair under what it did last weekend ($9.2M). Even with adding theaters, that is quite a feat. It’s per screen is a strong $7,715, and its cume after two weeks is $22M. With Easter coming, it could get another pop and estimates are that this film could top out at $40M to $45M. God’s Not Dead may have also cracked the Top Five. Right now, it’s in a dead heat with Fox Searchlight’s indie favorite The Grand Budapest Hotel for that honor. The Grand Budapest HotelWhen the final numbers come in tomorrow, we shall see. Budapest Hotel, with an addition of 673 playdates, is logging in a per screen of over $9K to bring its cume to $24.4M. After four weeks in limited release, it’s still playing great. The Arnold Schwarzenegger Sabotage just didn’t open for Arnold or for Open Road Films and is still expected to take in a total cume of $5.3M. Here are the numbers as they look this morning and, of course, it may change a bit tomorrow, depending on percentage drops:

1). Noah (PAR), 3,567 theaters / $15.2M Fri./ $17.65M Sat. / $12.3M Sun. (30%) / 3-day cume: $44.3M to $45M / Wk 1

2). Divergent (LGF), 3,936 theaters (0) / $8.3M Fri. / $11.8M Sat. / $7.7M Sun. (-30%) / 3-day cume: $26.5M to $27.1M (-50%) / Total cume: $95.9M / Wk 2

3/4). Muppets Most Wanted (DIS), 3,194 theaters (0) / $2.6M Fri. / $5.3M Sat. / $3.9M Sun. (-27%) / 3-day cume: $11.7M to $11.9M (-30%) / Total Cume: $33.5M to $33.8M / Wk 2

Mr. Peabody And Sherman (FOX), 3,299 theaters (-308) / $2.2M Fri. / $4.3M Sat. / $3.2M Sun. (-18%) / 3-day cume: $9.6M / Total cume: $95M / Wk 4

5). God’s Not Dead (FREE), 1,178 theaters (+362) / $2.2M Fri. /$3.5M Sat. / $3.2M Sun. (-10%) / 3-day cume: $9M / Per screen: $7,715 / Total cume: $22M / Wk 2

6). The Grand Budapest Hotel (FSL), 977 theaters (+673) / $2.3M Fri. / $3.8M Sat. / $2.5M Sun. (-35%) / 3-day cume: $8.8M / Per screen: $8,800 / Total cume: $24.4M / Wk 4

7). Sabotage (OPRD), 2,486 theaters / $1.8M Fri. / $2M Sat. / $1.4M Sun. (-30%) / 3-day cume: $5.2M / Wk 1

8). Need For Speed (DIS), 2,705 theaters (-410) / $1.1M Fri. / $1.9M Sat. / $1.2M Sun. (-35%) / 3-day cume: $4.3M (-46%) / Total cume: $37.6M / Wk 3

9). 300: Rise Of An Empire (WB), 2,601 theaters (-484) / $1.17M Fri. / $1.8M Sat. / $1.2M Sun. (-35%) / $3-day cume: $4.3 (-50%) / Total cume: $101.1M / Wk 4

10). Non-Stop (UNI), 2,515 theaters (-430) / $1.15M Fri./ $1.9M Sat. / $1.1M Sun. (-40%) / 3-day cume: $4.2M (-36%) / Total cume: $85.1M / Wk 5

NOTEWORTHY: Cesar Chavez (LGF), 664 theaters / $1M Fri. / $983K Sat. (-5%) / $926K M Sun. (30%) / 3-day cume: $2.8M to $3M / Per screen: $4,400 / Wk 1; Bad Words (FOCUS) 842 theaters (+755) / $780K Fri. / $1.1M Sat. / $817M Sun. (-30%) / 3-day cume: $2.7M / Per screen: $3,283 / Total cume: $3.7M

2nd UPDATE, SATURDAY, 11:15 PM: It was a good night for moviegoing for the top films as Noah sailed away with a sturdy $18M to $18.5M to bring its new expected 3-day cume to $46.8M to $47.5M for Paramount, depending on the percentages drop tomorrow. Do not underestimated the power of co-star Emma Watson’s social media imprint as the social media storm for Noah continues strong, according to RelishMix which tracks social engagement of the big three — Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Gods Not DeadAlthough it’s coming in at No. 6, God’s Not Dead which took in another $3.6M for an estimated 3-day gross of $9M actually might end up grossing as much as it did last weekend, which would be a box office oddity or miracle, depending on your belief system. Last weekend, the film debuted to a 3-day gross of $9.2M. The power of the Duck or the power of the faithful? Both, but the Duck Dynasty stars in the film have gotta be helping it (as well as the add of 362 more screens, of course). If the faith-based film grosses $9M, it’s per screen average would be higher than Divergent in its sophomore weekend. Divergent (LGF) grossed an estimated $11.8M to $12.3M on Saturday for a higher expected take of $27.3M to $28M. Meanwhile, Disney’s Muppets Most Wanted leapfrogged over Mr. Peabody and Sherman (Fox/DreamWorks Ani) to take the third spot for an estimated $5.4M to $5.6M Saturday gross; it’s total cume now raised to $11.8M to $12M. Mr. Peabody garnered $4.4M to $4.6M and is expected to take in $9.7M to $10M. muppets-most-wanted-posterNext is The Grand Budapest Hotel which just can’t be stopped. The quirky comedy from director Wes Anderson and Fox Searchlight checked in with another $4M+ on Saturday night to extend its stay to around $9.2M … or a hefty per screen average of $9,400. And Sabotage? No change expected in its gross from this morning’s estimate. Noah rained … er, I mean everything, even old openers … rained on its brigade. Will revise numbers and chart in the AM for the entire Top Ten. As always, positions and estimates may change.

1ST UPDATE, SATURDAY, 7:46 AM: Estimates for Darren Aronofsky‘s Noah are now anywhere from $41M to $44.6M based on a strong $15M Friday box office. I wondered while writing the box office last night if Southern CA audiences watching the film when the earthquake hit got a little seasick thinking how realistic the special effects were. Noah (PAR) was playing like a mainstream movie when it opened, but that bump indicates that it had some cross-over from the faith-based audiences which continue to keep God’s Not Dead in business. noahmovieAlthough based on the Biblical story, Noah doesn’t mention the name God once – how funny that God’s Not Dead made such a surprise second weekend showing, as if to say, ‘Oh yeah?’ The faith-based film that stars Shane Harper and Kevin Sorbo is continuing to play strong in its second weekend and this morning is expected to take $7.8M to $8M for the three-day or a per screen of $6,800. That would only be a 15% drop — a phenom hold as usually the pattern for faith-based films is to open big and then drop around 60% the following weekend. Noah has already bowed overseas and most recent numbers from Paramount show that it has made $28.3M through Friday (for more on its international performance, see Nancy Tartaglione’s International report here).  Divergent (LGF) in its second weekend had an $8.2M Friday and is estimated to take in $26M+ for a 52% FSS drop (not too bad) as it moves its way to the $100M mark. It should end the weekend with around $95M. The studio has been quite adept at launching franchises (The Hunger Games) and Divergent – based on the Veronica Roth YA series — chalks up another from them. Gods-Not-Dead-FacebookHowever, the Arnold Schwarzenegger-led Sabotage from QED and Open Road Films is the aging action star’s lowest gross yet since leaving politics. The bloody R-rated picture from David Ayer (Training Day) has been upgraded slightly to a possible $5.4M weekend, but that can’t help this flagging film as U.S. audiences have spoken three times already on their lack of interest in Arnold. How ironic that Sam Worthington (Terminator Salvation) also stars.

grandbudapesthotelAs previously mentioned, it’s another great weekend for The Grand Budapest Hotel which added 673 runs as it expands across the nation. Audiences just love this quirky Wes Anderson ensemble which is likely to take in $8M to $8.3M racking up another strong per screen — this time over 8K over the 3-day. Every indication is that Warner Bros.’ 300: Rise of an Empire will cross the $100M mark and then some as estimates this morning have it ending the weekend with $101M. And Disney’s Muppets Most Wanted is in a tie with Fox/DreamWorks Animation’s Mr. Peabody and Sherman for the No. 3 spot in its second weekend out but its weekend-to-weekend drop is not bad at 43%. It truly does play to adults as well, which I literally had to see to believe. Here are numbers as they look this morning:

PREVIOUSLY, FRIDAY 10:46 PM: Noah has been gaining steam all day and it looks poised to bring in about $45M over the 3-day weekend for Paramount Pictures in a gross that is head and shoulders above the rest of the pack as it’s gotta be getting some of the faith-based crowd. It’s on track to take in $14.7M to $16M on Friday alone. Also, God’s Not Dead is holding incredibly strong in its second weekend having added 362 screens to keep its per screen average at around $6,700; the film may take in around $8M, which would be only a 12% to 15% drop. Emma-Watson-and-Douglas-Booth-in-Noah-2014-Movie-ImageInterestingly, we have also been keeping tabs on the social engagement on Noah across the big three — Facebook, Twitter and YouTube — and Noah is the top film across the entire Social Media Universe. According to RelishMix, two big things happening: “Emma Watson is at the helm driving fans to opening weekend, while YouTube fan generated posts are sailing past official Paramount video trailers which is a good sign for the film,” according to the company. The critics were rough on it and rightly so apparently as it got a C CinemaScore. maxresdefaultYes, a C … which is very bad news for word of mouth and next weekend’s drop. One distributor noted that the film, however, got a 76% on Rotten Tomatoes. Bad news also for Sabotage is the third strike out for Arnold Schwarzenegger who has tried to make a comeback since leaving the Governor’s office. It’s not going to crack the Top Five and will likely only take in maybe $5M for the weekend on 2,486 runs. His last two films (not counting the ensemble piece The Expendables), tanked domestically. He can no longer carry a film here. It’s a sad fact.  And things are getting worse the more he tries. Escape Plan last year had an opening of only $9.8M in October and in January of last year The Last Stand grossed $6.2M. Arnold had a very, very good run while it lasted both domestically and overseas as the top action star in the world at one point. Internationally, he still can draw audiences. 81% of the $137.3M take for Escape Plan came from audiences abroad; same with Last Stand, which got 75% of its total $48.3M worldwide total from international territories. Sabotage, from Open Road Films, got a B CinemaScore, better than Noah at least.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is having another good weekend with what looks to be another $8K+ per screen or an $8.2M gross and now is in the top five for Fox Searchlight. Well done. Divergent in its second weekend looked to take in more than thought — $25.9M to $26.5M estimated — for a weekend drop of maybe 53%, a lesser drop than Hunger Games which was off 62% in its second weekend. It will definitely pass $100M this coming week for Lionsgate and Summit as will likely Mr. Peabody and Sherman from Fox/DreamWorks Animation. 300-Rise-of-an-Empire-2But all bets are on that Warner Bros./Legendary Films 300: Rise of an Empire will pass $100M this weekend after 4 weeks in release. While Disney’s Muppets Most Wanted is holding well in its second weekend as well with only a 36% drop expected as the studio kept the same number of screens. Estimates are anywhere from $10M to $10.9M. (Gotta shine the light on American Hustle for a moment. It’ll be at $150M at the end of the weekend). Positions and numbers are likely to change in the morning.