NORTH AMERICA: Studio Estimates: ‘No Good Deed’ Leads with $24.5M; ‘Dolphin Tale 2’ #2 with $16.55M; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Surpasses $300M Milestone

Sunday Update: Sony’s No Good Deed debuted in first place this weekend with an estimated $24.5 million. The low-budget thriller starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson exceeded its rising expectations heading into the weekend. Much of the film’s success was due to the drawing power of Elba and Henson. No Good Deed was also helped out by the fairly empty marketplace this weekend and Screen Gems has had a strong history with thrillers in the past. The film’s opening weekend performance was similar to the $23.45 million start of I Can Do Bad All By Myself back in September of 2009.

No Good Deed opened with $8.83 million on Friday, increased 11 percent on Saturday to take in $9.8 million and is estimated to decline 40 percent on Sunday to gross $5.88 million. That places the film’s estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio at 2.77 to 1. The audience breakdown for the film skewed towards female moviegoers (60 percent) and towards moviegoers 30 years and older (59 percent). No Good Deed received a B+ rating on CinemaScore, which is very solid for a thriller.

Dolphin Tale 2 opened in second place with an estimated $16.55 million. The family film sequel from Warner Bros. opened towards the lower end of pre-release expectations and a respectable 14 percent below the $19.15 million start of Dolphin Tale back in September of 2011. Dolphin Tale 2 was helped out by solid critical reviews and by the recent lack of family fare in the marketplace.

Dolphin Tale 2 grossed $4.26 million on Friday, increased a healthy 75 percent on Saturday to gross $7.45 million and is estimated to fall 35 percent on Sunday to take in $4.84 million. That places the estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio for the film at 3.88 to 1. The audience breakdown for the film skewed towards female moviegoers (63 percent) and moviegoers over the age of 25 (56 percent). Like its predecessor (which registered a total gross to opening weekend ratio of 3.77 to 1), Dolphin Tale 2 will hope to hold up well going forward. The film’s strong A rating on CinemaScore is an encouraging early sign.

After leading the box office for each of the past three weekends, Guardians of the Galaxy was down two spots to place in third with an estimated $8.04 million. In the process, the blockbuster sci-fi superhero adaptation from Disney and Marvel surpassed the $300 million domestic mark this weekend; making it the first release of 2014 to do so. The 45-day total for the film stands at $305.93 million. Guardians of the Galaxy held up very nicely this weekend, as it was down just 22 percent from last weekend.

Paramount’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles placed in fourth with an estimated $4.8 million. The blockbuster franchise re-launch was down a healthy 26 percent from last weekend. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles continues to exceed expectations in a big way with a 38-day take of $181.04 million.

Fox Searchlight’s The Drop was off to a surprisingly strong sixth place start with an estimated $4.2 million. The fairly last minute decision to open The Drop in moderate release paid off, as the crime drama starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and the late James Gandolfini earned a very solid per-location average of $5,315 from 809 locations. The Drop opened with $1.46 million on Friday, increased 20.5 percent on Saturday to take in $1.76 million and is estimated to decline 44 percent on Sunday to gross $0.98 million. That places the film’s estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio at 2.88 to 1.

Holdovers Let’s Be Cops and If I Stay claimed fifth and seventh place with respective estimated takes of $4.3 million and $4.05 million. Fox’s Let’s Be Cops was down only 23 percent from last weekend, while Warner’s If I Stay was down a healthy 27 percent. Both films continue to perform well, especially with their low production costs in mind. Respective total grosses stand at $72.97 million for Let’s Be Cops in 33 days and at $44.94 million for If I Stay in 24 days.

On the platform front, Roadside’s The Skeleton Twins was off to a very solid start this weekend with an estimated $0.411 million from 15 locations. That gave the comedy drama starring Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig a per-location average of $27,384 for the frame. The Skeleton Twins is scheduled to receive a major expansion on September 26.

Saturday Update: Sony reports that No Good Deed posted a strong opening day of $8.8 million on Friday, taking first place in the process. The PG-13 thriller opened 18 percent higher than 2010’s Takers (a fellow PG-13 release co-starring Idris Elba), largely thanks to an effective social media ad campaign and the casting of Taraji P. Henson and Elba (each of whom have starred or co-starred in a number of mid-range hits in recent years). Early word of mouth appears decent with a 74 percent Flixster score this morning, flying in the face of critics’ lowly 10 percent Rotten Tomatoes score. BoxOffice is projecting a $23.5 million weekend finish in first place, far exceeding the film’s $13 million production budget.

Warner Bros. reports that Dolphin Tale 2 took in an estimated $4.27 million on Friday, a generally healthy bow relative to recent sequel performers. BoxOffice projects a $15.9 million opening weekend. The flick, down 16 percent from its predecessor’s opening day of $5.1 million in 2011, is capitalizing on positive word of mouth from the first film, a solid marketing campaign, and a weak family market. The film’s Flixster score stands at a solid 83 percent this morning, while critics have awarded it a respectable 73 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. Combined with the pic’s encouraging “A” CinemaScore, we can likely expect the movie to hold up well in the weeks ahead.

In benchmark news, Guardians of the Galaxy inched closer to the $300 million line. The Disney/Marvel smash added $2.09 million on Friday, down just 23 percent from last week, bringing its domestic tally up to $299.98 million. Guardians is locked to topple the $300 million threshold in its 44th day of release on Saturday–4 days quicker than 2008’s original Iron Man. For the weekend as a whole, BoxOffice projects $8.4 million.

Paramount’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles took in $1.18 million yesterday, down 23 percent from last week. The hit reboot’s total now stands at $177.4 million. BoxOffice projects $4.7 million for the weekend.

Rounding out the top five, Fox’s Let’s Be Cops grabbed $1.27 million on Friday for just a 20 percent Friday-to-Friday drop. The comedy’s total gross now stands at $69.9 million.

Meanwhile, last week’s lone opener, The Identical, slipped over 74 percent from opening day to $136,000 yesterday. The 8-day total is $2.3 million. Freestyle Releasing projects a $373,000 sophomore weekend.

– Shawn Robbins

Friday Report: Sources are reporting that No Good Deed is off to a strong start and could reach $9 million on Friday. Should that early projection hold through the night, the thriller could net an opening weekend around $20 million.

Meanwhile, Dolphin Tale 2 is pacing for an opening day around $5.5 million. That will put it in a distant second place for Friday, but the family-driven sequel will almost certainly hold up very over the weekend. Based on these early projections, Dolphin may also wind up with around $20 million this weekend.

More as it comes.