Another record was broken this week, as Zootopia had the biggest opening weekend of any non-Pixar Disney cartoon ever at the North American box office.
Box office: Zootopia sets a new Disney record, and Risen is on the verge of passing Hail, Caesar! in North America
Box-office update: Guardians of the Galaxy breaks more records while the “faith-based” genre underperforms
The big news, of course, is the phenomenal success of Guardians of the Galaxy, a film that was based on one of the more obscure Marvel properties, had no major stars, and revolved around some pretty wacky ideas (like a talking, machine-gun-toting raccoon), yet still managed to become the top-grossing Marvel Cinematic Universe movie without Iron Man, at least in North America.
Overseas, it ranks behind all of the Marvel sequels, but ahead of all their other “original” films except for The Avengers — and that was really kind of a super-sequel, too. So you could say that, worldwide, Guardians of the Galaxy is the top-grossing Marvel Cinematic Universe movie that introduced a new set of characters.
Before Heaven Is for Real, before God’s Not Dead, and before Son of God, the year of the religious movie began in January with the Oscar nomination — and the subsequent rescinding of that nomination — for the title song to the independent Christian film Alone Yet Not Alone.
The film itself had not been widely seen at the time; it was shown in only one theatre in Los Angeles last year to qualify for the Oscars. But the filmmakers had plans to release the film in June, and the Oscar controversy gave it lots of free publicity. And that was before the films mentioned above proved that there was a lot of gold in them thar “faith-based” hills.
So, on Friday, the film finally came out, and… it barely made a ripple.
Son of God news round-up: a box-office update, thoughts on Peter Bart’s “open letter” to Mark Burnett, and more
The makers of Son of God promoted the film quite heavily during the run-up to its release two weeks ago, and they kept at it during the film’s first week in theatres — but the publicity machine has slowed down considerably since then, and now, in its third weekend, Son of God is estimated to have grossed about $5.4 million, which puts it in 7th place for the week.
That figure is down 48% from last weekend, which, percentage-wise, is the second-largest drop in this week’s top ten (the biggest is the 57.6% by which 300: Rise of an Empire fell from its opening last week). With a weekend take of $1,806 per screen, Son of God also had the second-lowest per-screen average in the top ten, ahead of only the $1,444 per screen taken in by Frozen, the Oscar-winning Disney cartoon that has been playing in theatres for almost four months now.
Perhaps the most surprising Oscar nomination announced this morning was for an obscure independent Christian film called Alone Yet Not Alone, which was nominated for its title song, sung in the film by Joni Eareckson Tada.
One of the reasons most people hadn’t heard of the film, which is set during the Seven Years’ War (or the French & Indian War, as it is known in the United States), is that it hasn’t actually had a proper release yet. According to Deadline, the film did have a week-long Oscar-qualifying run back in September, but according to the film’s website, it won’t actually play in most theatres until sometime in June!