Son of God took a tumble at the box office this weekend, taking in about 60% less than it did last weekend — easily the biggest drop among the week’s top ten.
One is that some churches bought out entire theatres last week, which gave the opening weekend a bit of a boost.
Another is that movies based on popular TV shows — such as Star Trek, The X-Files and High School Musical — tend to attract a higher percentage of their audiences on their opening weekends. The fans all show up for the opening weekend because that’s The Event they have all been waiting for, and then, unless the word of mouth is really good, the film drops down the box-office chart fairly quickly after that.
Whatever the reason, it doesn’t look very likely now that Son of God will still be a force to be reckoned with when Good Friday comes along April 18, in the film’s eighth week of release. It might not even be in the top ten any more when the year’s second Bible movie, Noah, opens just three weeks from now.Son of God has, at least, outperformed the two Greco-Roman movies that preceded it this year. The Legend of Hercules stalled at $18.8 million in North America, while Pompeii fell out of the top ten in this, its third week, and has grossed only $21.1 million in North America so far.
On the other hand, 300: Rise of an Empire opened this week to $45.1 million and has thereby already outgrossed Son of God in North America. In fact, I believe the sequel to 300 scored the fifth-best opening for any film set in the Greco-Roman world, behind The Passion of the Christ (2004, $83.8 million), 300 (2006, $70.9 million), Clash of the Titans (2010, $61.2 million) and Troy (2004, $46.9 million).
Incidentally, all three of the year’s other Greco-Roman films have already earned more overseas than they have in North America, whereas Son of God does not seem to have opened in any foreign territories yet.
Still, whatever else one might say about the film’s box-office performance, it has done pretty well considering that it’s essentially a big-screen re-run of a year-old TV show without any major stars. So, credit where credit is due.
But at the same time, you can see why the makers of Bible movies with bigger budgets wouldn’t want to rely entirely or even primarily on the audience that turned out for Son of God. The Christian-subculture demographic only goes so far.