It may not quite approach the stature of building an ark to withstand an epochal flood, but the box office success of Noah this weekend — which opened with an estimated gross of $44 million — is still something of a remarkable feat. No other overtly Bible-themed feature film has opened anywhere close to that amount since 2004’s The Passion of the Christ, doubly remarkable considering that director Darren Aronofsky’s $125 million adaptation of the Old Testament story faced serious opposition from Christian groups that objected to perceived liberties the film takes with the biblical text. The film pulled in another $51 million overseas, for a total worldwide gross of $95.1 million — a very healthy start for what was nowhere close to a sure thing.
The reason is simple: Short of the phenomenal success of Mel Gibson’s film 10 years ago, and the subsequent adaptations of C.S. Lewis’ Christian-fantasy hybrid book series The Chronicles of Narnia, it has been a very long time since a Christian-themed movie made a lot of money at the box office. For the last 15 years or so, independently financed and distributed Christian films like 1999’s The Omega Code and 2008’s Fireproof have found a relatively healthy audience in limited release, but their grosses have never topped $40 million, even when adjusting for inflation.
Divergent was dauntless at the box office this weekend, easily winning the top spot with an estimated $56 million. Meanwhile, the Muppets failed to take multiplexes in Muppets Most Wanted, earning $16.5 million, and the faith-based indie God’s Not Dead inspired an awesome $8.6 million from just 780 theaters.
Starring Shailene Woodley and Theo James as rebels in a dystopian future, the PG-13 action film Divergent aimed for the same moviegoers who gave The Hunger Games a surprise $152.5 million opening weekend in March, 2012. With a $56 million debut, Divergent didn’t reach those heights — and even fell slightly below the predictions of some analysts, who had pegged the movie for a $60 million-plus debut.
“I need to sort my life out,” says Ellie Goulding with a sigh, fiddling with her bright blonde hair as she talks. “And if I don’t do it soon, I may as well just be forever on the road, because that’s what it feels like.”
Curled up in the corner of a black leather couch in her modest dressing room backstage at a Washington, D.C., venue, Goulding describes her next six months as if she’s been asked to run endless wind sprints. (Although, as it turns out, that might make this fitness addict happier.) This is what you dream of when you imagine being a pop star: hit singles, a world tour, award show performances, screaming fans. Read more
Teen sci-fi should rule the box office this weekend, with the highly anticipated “Divergent” poised for a strong launch of a new franchise.
“Divergent,” from Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment, could generate $55 million or more in ticket sales from the U.S. and Canada through Sunday, according to people who have seen prerelease audience surveys.
Meanwhile, Disney’s “Muppets Most Wanted” should gross around $25 million in a solid debut.
The former “Idol” finalist has headed to Sweden to work on new music with the veteran pop expert.
Adam Lambert’s third studio album — his first since leaving RCA Records last summer — is currently being worked on by pop super-producer Max Martin, and a handful of ace songwriters, in Sweden.
Martin, who has helmed pop smashes from Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Maroon 5, Justin Bieber and countless other mainstream superstars, co-produced two songs for Lambert’s 2009 debut album “For Your Entertainment,” including the hit single “Whataya Want From Me.” Martin did not contribute to Lambert’s sophomore album “Trespassing,” which debuted atop the Billboard 200 chart in 2012, but the “American Idol” finalist is linking back up with Martin for the follow-up.
“[Martin] just brought in a load of people that he trusts and that make good music, and just seeing what happens,” U.K. singer-songwriter Joe Janiak, who recently co-wrote Ellie Goulding’s “Divergent” soundtrack single “Beating Heart,” tells Billboard. Janiak, a London native, was called to come out to Sweden early last week and work with a collection of song experts that was organized by Martin. “He’s got a company which really focuses on getting the best young writers and getting them all together in one place, so that they can have a hotbed of creativity and spin ideas off of each other,” Janiak adds of Martin.
Longtime British modern rock favorites Elbow have achieved their first-ever U.K. No. 1 album, debuting at the top with their sixth studio release “The Take Off and Landing of Everything.” On the new singles chart, Canadian duo Dvbbs (pronounced Dubbs) and producer Borgeous entered at the summit with “Tsunami (Jump),” featuring Tinie Tempah.
Elbow’s long climb to album supremacy, as announced in the Official Charts Company’s new sales data yesterday (Sunday), has taken the band some 24 years since they first played together, and 17 since they became Elbow. Their last album “Build A Rocket Boys!” debuted and peaked at No. 2 in 2011. Read more
The shirtless warriors of the “300” sequel “Rise of an Empire” ravaged the post-Oscars box-office weekend with a domestic debut of $45.1 million but an even bigger international haul of $87.8 million.
Seven years after the original “300” became an unlikely, ultra-stylish, blood-soaked sensation, Warner Bros.’ 3-D follow-up showed considerable might at the box office. While “300: Rise of an Empire” didn’t come close the North American debut of Zack Snyder’s 2007 original ($70.9 million and without the benefit of 3-D ticket prices), it performed like a blockbuster overseas.
“Rise of an Empire,” which with flexed torsos and R-rated blood further chronicles the ancient battles of the Greeks and Persians, led a busy box-office weekend that also saw an Academy Awards bump for “12 Years a Slave” and one of the highest per-screen averages ever for Wes Anderson’s European caper “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”
Taylor Swift owned the top spot of Billboard‘s highest-paid musicians of 2013, raking in $39,699,576.60, which was plenty to best second and third place finishers Kenny Chesney and Justin Timberlake who earned $32,956,240.70 and $31,463,297.03.
Using data from Nielsen SoundScan and Broadcast Data Systems – which track sales and spins on TV, radio and internet, respectively – and their own Boxscore stats, Billboard calculated artists’ total U.S. earnings from touring, recorded-music sales, publishing royalties and revenue from digital music and video streaming (money earned from sponsorships, merch and syncs weren’t included due to a lack of data).
Swift dominated other artists in every area. Her recent Red Tour took in an estimated $30 million, while the singer notched nearly 10 million downloads and ranked fifth in streaming royalties. Meanwhile, Chesney bolstered his album earnings with $90 million from his recent No Shoes Nation tour, topping 1 million in attendance for his 10th tour in a row.
“Son of God,” the first major cinematic retelling of the story of Jesus in more than a decade, confounded Hollywood elites, mainstream critics, and industry experts Sunday with a staggering $26.5 million box office take.
The Fox release, a brainchild of reality TV producer Mark Burnett and his wife, actress Roma Downey, nearly toppled reigning box office heavyweight Liam Neeson, coming in a close second to his adventure film “Non-Stop.” That film was No. 1 with a $30 million weekend box office. Read more
“12 Years a Slave” won the Oscar for best picture at Sunday’s Academy Awards, while the 3D space spectacle “Gravity” triumphed as the night’s top award-winner.
Steve McQueen’s slavery odyssey, based on Solomon Northup’s 1853 memoir, has been hailed as a landmark corrective to the movie industry’s long omission of slavery stories and years of whiter tales like 1940 best-picture winner “Gone With the Wind.”
McQueen dedicated the honor to those who suffered slavery and “the 21 million who still endure slavery today.”
“Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live,” said McQueen, who promptly bounced into the arms of his cast. “This is the most important legacy of Solomon Northup.”
“Gravity” cleaned up in technical categories, earning seven Oscars including best director for Alfonso Cuaron. The Mexican filmmaker is the category’s first Latino winner.