Son Of God from Fox so far is the surprise of the weekend, taking in a phenom $1.2M Thursday in late-night shows that began at 10 PM. Universal’s Non-Stop also did bang-up business beginning with 8 PM shows and a total of 720K, according to estimates, as the actioner starring Liam Neeson right now is also playing strong. Two distributors compared Non-Stop‘s opening to that of Olympus Has Fallen, which went onto gross $161M+ worldwide ($99M of it in the U.S.) and that opening was $500,000. So right now Non-Stop is playing above that.
Son Of God still could end up anywhere on the box office top 10, depending how it does this weekend, but if last night is any indication, it could push right up the aisle past Non-Stop. Distributors and those who track the films for a living cannot predict what this picture will gross in its three-day. Reality TV king Mark Burnett, who is producing the picture and is doing a heck of a job garnering publicity with his exec producer Roma Downey, already helped drum up $4.5M in pre-sold tickets — that includes a tremendous amount of group sales from a Colorado-based company called Compassion International which is buying up tickets and giving away parishoners to churches in 40 U.S. cities. “It’s an excellent start and it looks as though Mark and Roma’s sincere grass-roots marketing efforts have ignited and motivated audiences across the country to see Son Of God,” Fox domestic distribution boss Chris Aronson said.
Related: Hot Trailer: Fox’s ‘Son Of God’
The moviegoers that come to see this particular genre aren’t frequent moviegoers so they are traditionally hard to track. To that point, only 30% of 1,000 people buying tickets for Son Of God have seen Frozen and only 28% have seen Gravity — two of the biggest box office hits today. However, at the same time, Fandango also found that 94% Son Of God ticket buyers want to see more Biblical stories made into motion pictures and 76% plan to see Paramount’s Noah starring Russell Crowe and 83% are interested in seeing TriStar/Screen Gems’ Heaven Is For Real (Greg Kinnear). The latter is based on the book that wouldn’t leave the New York Times bestseller’s list. Roughly the same percentage — 82% — are interested in seeing Fox’s Exodus starring Christian Bale. So Son Of God is going to give the studios — especially Fox — a lot of propriety information moving forward on marketing Exodus.
Paramount is also enlisting help from religious entities for their marketing materials. The National Religious Broadcasters and Paramount said last night that they made the joint decision to add an explanatory message to future marketing materials for Noah. Specicially, marketing materials will state: “The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis.” Studios are listening to the faith-based organizations and what works and what doesn’t. (more…)