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March 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Despite record cold in some parts of the nation and a deluge of rain in other parts, the box office enjoyed a far better-than-expected weekend, with two new movies taking top honors with grosses that exceeded predictions. Universal’s Non-Stop opened with a surprising $30 million, while Fox’s Son of God debuted in second place with about $26.5 million. Those figures represent actual ticket sales for Friday and Saturday and an educated guess for Sunday. And that’s where things could get a little dicey. In estimating the total for Son of God on Sunday morning, Fox would have had to gauge the response of churchgoers to the strong marketing campaign aimed at them, something it has little experience doing. It was known that some larger churches had effectively bought up all the screening rooms of entire theaters, while smaller churches had arranged for congregations to head for the theaters after the final “amens” of their services. On the other hand, Son of God had been pared down from the History Channel’s 2013 miniseries, The Bible. How many of those Sunday churchgoers are going to want to see it again on the big screen? Those were the kinds of complications that could make a hash of the the studio’s estimate. Also affecting attendance on Sunday will be the televised Oscar awards. Here, at least, box-office analysts have had a considerable amount of practical experience accounting for the presumed impact of the telecast. Nevertheless, the Oscar telecast can fluctuate wildly. In 2008, the audience dropped to 32 million; two years later it rose to 42 million. ABC is predicting an out-sized audience for this year’s Oscars. Good for the network; not so good for theaters. Meanwhile, two animated films were still cleaning up at the box office. The Lego Movie was expected to close out the weekend with $21 million down just 33 percent from last week. That pushed the film past the $200-million mark to $209.33 million. At the same time, Disney’s Frozen remained in the top ten, raking in $3.6 million for eighth place. That pushed the movie past the $1-billion mark in worldwide ticket sales, making it only the second movie released in 2013 to hit that milestone. The other film was Disney’s Iron Man 3.