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And with the end of another weekend comes another batch of reports about how films-both new and old-fared at the box office. Some weekends are genuinely impressive, and others see the studios attempting to spin shit into gold. This past weekend, as it turns out, was the 8th most attended weekend in film history as indicated by the combined domestic grosses ($237 million) for all movies playing in the three-day period. Have to give it to the studio guys this time – that’s genuinely impressive, even if it also happened a month ago when the combined forces of Fast & The Furious 6 and The Hangover III over Memorial Day made for the 6th most profitable weekend in film history (The-Numbers.com).
So, how did it shake out this time? How well did each individual film perform, and what are the main things to takeaway from all this?
Let’s start with the raw numbers:
Top 10 Estimates for the 6/21-/6/23 Weekend Domestic Box Office (Gross/Budget reported in the millions)
|#||Title||Weekend Gross||Total Gross||Prod. Budget||Week #||% Change|
|2||World War Z||$66||$66||$190||1||n/a|
|3||Man of Steel||$41.25||$210||$225||2||-64.7%|
|4||This is the End||$13||$57.79||$32||2||-37.3%|
|5||Now You See Me||$7.87||$94.45||$75||4||-28.6%|
|6||Fast & The Furious 6||$4.75||$228.41||$160||5||-50.7%|
|9||Star Trek Into Darkness||$3||$216.61||$190||6||-52%|
|10||Iron Man 3||$2.17||$403.12||$200||8||-26.40%|
|Gross (Weekend, Total) and Production Budget reported here in the millions (e.g., $82=$82,000,000)|
Monsters University – Pixar’s 14th Straight #1 Opening
Even with all the hand-wringing over the withering quality of the film’s as of late [see: Cars 2, Brave], Pixar is still the most reliable box office performer among all animated film production houses. Monster’s University is their 14th film to debut at #1. Cool, but how many films have they had? 14. That’s right – every single film they’ve ever made has debuted at #1. Monsters University earned an additional $54.5 million in worldwide gross combining for a worldwide debut of $136.5 million.
Here are the main takeaways from the performance of Monsters University:
- The $82 million opening total for Monsters University is second only to Toy Story 3’s $110 million for highest opening for a Pixar film, but after inflation its total would fall behind Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Toy Story 2, and Monsters, Inc.
- After inflation, Monsters, Inc.’s opening weekend total would be $87 million meaning at $82 million upon opening Monsters University failed to grow the franchise’s audience but also didn’t lose a noticeable portion of it either.
- 3D is still dying – 3D ticket sales only accounted for 31% of Monsters University‘s box office gross for the film.
- Pixar’s decade long honeymoon with critics may be over, but they can still produce hits with more consistency than any other animation production house.
World War Z – When is a Hit Not a Hit?
The notoriously over-budget and delayed World War Z actually over-performed and exceeded all estimates, easily taking second place with $66 million instead of fighting Man of Steel tooth and nail for the spot. Only one other movie in film history has made more money while finishing in second place (2004’s The Day After Tomorrow, which grossed $68.7 million). WWZ added an additional $45.8 million in foreign gross for a worldwide total of $111.8 million.
Here are the main takeaways from the performance of World War Z:
- WWZ was originally meant to be the first of a trilogy, but seemingly from day 1 the production gained a reputation as troubled. Plans for the trilogy were abandoned, and the original December 2012 release date was pushed back 6 months. The entire third act of the film had to be re-shot during this period after that portion of the script was re-written. As a result, this movie was supposed to bomb. Then its strong midnight screenings and decent reviews indicated it might do okay. Instead, it opened on par with Inception, another non-franchise summer blockbuster, and Brad Pitt and Paramount are planning a sequel and publicly expressing confidence the film will end up making a profit even with its excessive budget.
- Its budget ballooned to $190 million after re-shoots meaning even with its hot start it cannot afford significant drop-offs over the next couple of weeks if Paramount and Brad Pitt are going to have a chance of getting a sequel made.
- Brad Pitt is a film star, but he has never really been a bankable film star. He does smaller films or shows up in the ensemble in a bigger film. However, he is the only known star of WWZ, and he now has easily the highest debut of his career (more than the $50.3 million for 2005’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith).
Films which make a rather impressive amount of money still ultimately fail sometimes because they just cost too dang much to make/market, as with 2006’s Superman Returns which made $391 million worldwide but cost a ridiculous $270 million to make. Speaking of Superman and unfortunate drop-offs in box office gross…
Man of Steel Comes Falling Back to Earth After Briefly Soaring Through the Air
Last week, Man of Steel opened huge – like 15th highest domestic opening weekend in film history huge. This week? It dropped 65% to a domestic total of $41.25 million. This places it in the same company as other notoriously front-loaded comic book movies which made the overwhelming majority of their domestic money in their opening weekend [see: The Incredible Hulk, Green Lantern, and X-Men: The Last Stand]. As a point of comparison, Iron Man 3 only dropped 58% in its second weekend and The Avengers only dropped 50% in its second weekend, mere percentage points, of course, but percentage points that represent millions of dollars. However, Man of Steel‘s worldwide gross to this point is $398 million which is pretty darn good.
Here are the main takeaways from the performance of Man of Steel:
- Even with its unexpectedly high 65% drop-off in its second weekend of release, Man of Steel has already grossed more than Superman Returns both domestically ($210 million vs. $200 million) and worldwide ($398 million vs $391 million). Of course, those figures aren’t nearly as close after you adjust for inflation at which point Man of Steel still has $30+ million to go domestically to equal Superman Returns.
- Man of Steel trounced the competition in foreign markets, grossing an additional $89 million. However, this might be somewhat misleading since Man of Steel is currently playing in more foreign markets than the competition.
Word-Of-Mouth Hits This is the End and Now You See Me Continue to Perform Beyond Expectations
Part of the reason this past weekend did so well as a combined total is likely due to the variety in the films which were opening/carrying over for additional weeks. The top 3 might be a family movie, zombie action film, and superhero comic book movie, but the next two are far smaller action-comedies made for far cheaper. While they aren’t pulling down numbers anywhere in the same league as the top 3, This is the End and Now You See Me are proving to be real word of mouth hits, giving hope to any filmgoer looking for more variety in the offerings at their local cineplex. According to boxofficemojo.com:
On strong word-of-mouth, This is the End eased 37 percent to an estimated $13 million. Through 12 days, the apocalypse comedy has grossed $57.8 million. Meanwhile, Now You See Me had another great hold—the movie dipped 29 percent to an estimated $7.8 million, and has so far earned $94.5 million.
Unless otherwise noted, the source for all figures listed in this article is BoxOfficeMojo.com.
It should be interesting to see how the box office shakes out over the next couple of weeks – can World War Z maintain its hot start? Will Man of Steel continue to drop off at an alarming rate domestically? Will Monsters University be able to withstand the competition from Despicable Me 2 when it opens in two weeks? Take to the comments section to let us know your thoughts about this or anything else mentioned in the article.