Weekend Box Office (July 18 - 20, 2014)
THIS WEEKEND Caesar still ruled the North American box office as the well-liked action film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes pulled in the most ticket sales for a second frame at number one beating out three new releases over another sluggish session for what Hollywood chose to offer up this summer.
The Fox film grossed an estimated $36M dropping a reasonable 50% in its sophomore frame pushing the total to date up to an impressive $139M. That was a great hold for a sci-fi sequel and shows that audiences are liking and recommending the adventure film. None of the new openers were action tentpoles so that helped as well. Dawn averaged a healthy $9,070 from 3,969 locations and is now running an encouraging 32% ahead of the pace of 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes. But the coming weeks will present some challenges with a large number of big-budget action offerings on the calendar starting with this Friday's double dose of Lucy and Hercules. Still, Dawn looks to be on track to reach about $225M from North America alone.
50 overseas markets for Dawn, including 29 new ones that just launched post-World Cup, grossed a stellar $61M this weekend bumping the international cume up to $103M with seven of the top ten offshore territories still to open. Worldwide tally stands at $242M with 17 new markets including Brazil and Mexico debuting next weekend.
Ending a drought that has lasted for almost a year, a horror film finally opened to strong numbers as the sequel The Purge: Anarchy debuted in second place to an estimated $28.4M. Scoring a solid $10,110 average - tops among all wide releases - the low-cost $9M thriller fell just 17% from the shockingly huge $34.1M opening weekend of The Purge from last summer. Reviews were mixed but Universal's marketing was effective, as was the brand, and brought out an audience that has avoided almost every fright film this year. None had broken $20M on opening weekend yet. Anarchy delivered the best horror debut since the $40.3M of last September's Insidious Chapter 2.
Studio research showed that the audience was 52% female but what was more critical was that a very high 61% was under 25. Teens and younger adults do not come out to the multiplexes as often as they always have in the past. The mobile device is the new multiplex for this generation. So it is rare today for any film to see that high of a share of its audience be from this younger age demo. Anarchy's audience was also ethnically diverse. Latinos led the way with 36% of the crowd and non-whites in general were 71%. The CinemaScore grade was a B which is pretty decent for this genre. Its predecessor earned a C and plummeted 76% in the second weekend.
Taking advantage of a concerning void in the summer marketplace right now for kidpics, the animated sequel Planes: Fire and Rescue opened well to an estimated $18M from 3,826 locations for a $4,705 average. Considering this is a follow-up to a film intended to go straight to video, the debut was quite respectable and was not too far from the $22.2M launch of Disney's Planes last August. Current kid movies have played out and Pixar has skipped the summer games for the first time in nine years creating a lucrative opportunity for a lower quality animated entry like Fire to enter and succeed.
The audience breakdown was split evenly between males and females and 78% of the crowd consisted of families with little crossover appeal to teens or couples. Reviews were poor which was not surprising but audiences gave an A CinemaScore grade. With studios making the unwise choice of programming no more major toons for the rest of the summer, the new Planes is well-positioned to cash in over the weeks ahead.
Cameron Diaz's new comedy Sex Tape disappointed in fourth place with an opening weekend of an estimated $15M which was less than half of the debut of her 2011 summer R-rated comedy hit Bad Teacher from the same director. The Sony release averaged a mediocre $4,899 from 3,062 locations and was panned by critics which helped to repel potential ticket buyers. Studio research showed that the audience was 53% female and 52% over 30.
Paying moviegoers agreed with reviewers as the CinemaScore grade was a lousy C+. Diaz fared much better anchoring April's The Other Woman which opened at number one to $24.8M on its way to a current cume of $83.8M. In Australia, a great market for American comedies, Sex Tape opened about even with Teacher this weekend so international results could help this new raunchfest become a money maker.
The global phenomenon Transformers: Age of Extinction fell 39% to an estimated $10M for a new domestic total of $227.2M on its way to a finish of around $250M. Overseas results remained much better with an $81.2M international weekend gross driven by new openings in Brazil and much of Europe which until now was distracted by the World Cup. The overseas take vaulted to $659.1M repping three-quarters of the $886.3M global gross as it looks to break the billion dollar mark next week. China leads the world with a staggering $285.7M to date - an amount no film in North America has reached yet in 2014. Extinction has a shot now to surpass the $895M of The Avengers for the number four spot on the list of all-time overseas blockbusters trailing just Avatar, Titanic, and the final Harry Potter. That is an incredible feat for a film which will not even reach the Top 75 among all-time domestic hits.
Melissa McCarthy's Tammy followed with an estimated $7.6M, down a moderate 39%, for a new total of $71.3M for Warner Bros. An R-rated comedy doing much better with summer crowds, 22 Jump Street, dropped only 28% to an estimated $4.7M in its sixth round pushing Sony's new cume to $180.5M.
The DreamWorks toon How to Train Your Dragon 2 took in an estimated $3.8M, off 37%, giving Fox $160.7M. That's 16% behind the pace of its 2010 predecessor. At this point in each of the last two summers, two toons had broken $200M already.
Disney's leggy super villainess pic Maleficent became the first summer movie to spend eight weeks in the top ten with an estimated $3.3M, off only 21%. The Angelina Jolie smash has now amassed a remarkable $228.4M in North America and an incredible $697.2M worldwide. The only other films all year to spend eight weeks in the top ten were Ride Along and Divergent. Among all films however, the year's leader is Frozen with 11 since the beginning of January which followed five frames at the end of 2013. Together, the muscular girlpower mega-hits Maleficent and Frozen have grossed a jaw-dropping $1.97 billion globally for Disney.
Relativity's kidpic Earth to Echo fell 41% to an estimated $3.3M pushing the modest sum up to $32M.
On the specialty scene, the critical darling Boyhood enjoyed a wonderful expansion from five to 34 locations and grossed an estimated $1.2M for a potent $35,235 average. The slower roll-out from IFC is allowing audiences to find the film at the right time as word-of-mouth spreads to all major markets. It's the most talked about film in the indie world right now. Cume is $1.8M with plenty more to come as an additional 15 markets will open next weekend. Boyhood will certainly become one of the highest-grossing films in company history for IFC.
Writer/director/star Zach Braff's new film Wish I Were Here, which generated mountains for press for its Kickstarter campaign, debuted with just decent numbers as reviews from critics were lackluster. Focus bowed the R-rated tale in 68 locations and grossed an estimated $495,000 for a mild $7,279 average. Boyhood, which has far better reviews and even Oscar buzz, is providing plenty of competition at this moment among arthouse audiences across the top ten markets. Wish is planning to expand into about 600 theaters next week which will be a challenge given the average it generated in its limited start. Kate Hudson is receiving much praise for her performance, though.
Hollywood is in a funk this summer as this was the sixth consecutive weekend that the box office was down versus last year. Four of those frames were down by more than 20%. A major factor causing the deficit comes from two genres that usually deliver massive grosses at this time of year - animated films and super hero pics. Compared to this point last summer, those two categories have grossed a whopping $600M less this summer. Add in some lame films, the continuing exodus of teens, and a lack of installments from the top-selling franchises of today, and the industry now has to deal with weak summer attendance that will result in fewer people seeing trailers for the upcoming fall and holiday season movies.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $130M which was down a disturbing 25% from last year when The Conjuring opened at number one with $41.9M; and off 41% from 2012 when The Dark Knight Rises debuted on top with a 2D record $160.9M.
Compared to projections, The Purge: Anarchy opened higher than my $24M forecast, Planes: Fire and Rescue was a bit higher than my $16M prediction, and Sex Tape debuted well below my $22M projection.
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Be sure to check back on Monday for final figures and again on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Lucy and Hercules both open.
This column is updated three times each week: Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.
Last Updated: July 20, 2014 at 3:40PM ET
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