Few things can be more helpful or detrimental to a film than controversy, and between the outrage of Christians, film fans who thought its director was selling out and Glenn Beck, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah was certainly coming into theaters on a wave of it. However, as many predicted, it didn’t stop the film from booking tons of screenings for church groups and attracting audiences looking for a big budget blockbuster. The film opened with $44 million in America and has racked up another $51 million overseas, and though it had a C Cinemascore and attracted an older audience, it’s likely to have legs as we enter the Easter season (or at least as much legs as a film can have with the Captain America sequel looming on the horizon).
The other major release was the Arnold Schwarzenegger, Agatha-Christie-as-action-movie Sabotage, which rode terrible reviews and a general lack of audience interest to seventh place with $5.3 million. That marks the worst opening for a Schwarzenegger movie since 1985, and strongly suggests that audiences aren’t much interested in seeing his return to solo action movie roles. Also opening weakly, though not nearly as bad given that it played in fewer theaters and had a narrower target audience, was Diego Luna’s Cesar Chavez, which opened in twelfth place with $3 million.
Last week’s releases all held fairly well. Divergent slipped 52 percent to second place with $26.5 million and an overall $95 million gross, surpassing its $85 million budget and virtually guaranteeing a sequel. Muppets Most Wanted fell 33 percent to third place with $11.4 million, which is better than the original Muppets movie did in its second weekend and puts Wanted at $33 million. And the surprise Christian hit God’s Not Dead also rode the Easter wave and only dropped 1.5 percent to fifth place with $9 million, putting it at $22 million overall.
Next week brings Captain America and the very unofficial start of the summer movie season, which seems to be coming earlier every year.