Due to the unprecedented amount of box office information available to us through sites like BoxOfficeMojo.com and Rentrak it’s very easy to get a little lost in nerd-riffic detail, but in truth box office figures are easily broken down into three categories: 1) Did whatever you’re looking at perform about as expected?; 2) Better than expected?; or 3) Worse than expected?
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which just came out this past weekend, clearly falls into the second category. Its near-$73 million domestic debut was at least $10 million more than experts predicted, and $20 million more than the studio’s rather conservative expectations. Similarly, it represented a nearly $20 million improvement over the $54 million its predecessor (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) opened to three years ago.
Clearly, it’s a bonafide hit at the box office, beloved by audiences (as indicated by the A- grade given by opening night audiences to CinemaScore), and absolutely adored by critics (as indicated by its 98% fresh rating on RottenTomatoes). The pros over at BoxOfficeMojo are now guessing Dawn could end up with $240 million domestic by the end of its run, a clear improvement over Rise‘s total domestic haul of $176.8 million. But is that good enough to save the summer?
Wait a tic. Why does the summer even need saving?
Well, in terms of total domestic gross per month we just experienced the worst May since 2010 and worst June since 2011. As a result, Variety says 2014 summer box office is now down nearly 20% compared to last summer. It gets worse. Prior to the start of the summer movie season 2014 box office was actually up 9% year-over-year, thanks largely to LEGO Movie and Captain America: Winter Soldier. Now, even after the big debut for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 2014’s total box office is lagging 5% behind last year’s pace.
However, as originally argued by Collider this summer’s slate of movies never had a chance to match up with last year’s. If you just look at proto-typical summer titles (animation/big-budget action, usually a sequel or adaptation of something) by this point last year we’d had 11 such releases:
- Iron Man 3
- Star Trek Into Darkness
- Fast & Furious 6
- After Earth
- Man of Steel
- Monsters University
- World War Z
- White House Down
- Despicable Me 2
- Lone Ranger
- Pacific Rim
Compare that to this year:
- The Amazing Spider-Man 2
- X-Men: Days of Future Past
- Edge of Tomorrow
- How to Train Your Dragon 2
- Transformers: Age of Extinction
- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
That’s a difference of 3 tentpole releases, probably because Hollywood has been spreading its releases out a bit more in 2014, putting summer-like movies (Winter Soldier, Noah) out earlier in the year. That equates to plenty of lost money for the summer movie season. Sure, more of those 2013 titles bombed than have the 2014 ones, and the “summer of bombs” may be how we all remember 2013, especially considering how much press that received at the time. However, if you pull back and look at overall business you see that summer 2013 set records for the most lucrative May, June, and August in film history. Its’ misses (White House Down, Lone Ranger) were bigger, but so were its hits (Iron Man 3, Despicable Me 2, and Monsters University).
Plus, the summer of 2013 simply cranked out more big movies, and had future hits like Conjuring and The Wolverine on the horizon. 2014, on the other hand, is left to pin its box office hopes on Hercules, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, each of which is a fairly big question mark.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, at least not for movie fans. We’ve seen plenty of films we wouldn’t normally expect in the summer, like Chef, Fault in Our Stars, Earth to Echo, Jersey Boys, Deliver Us From Evil, etc. However, when one of those hits, like Fault in Our Stars, it’s not going to add enough to the bottom line to make this a record-breaking summer.
It’s rather telling that going into this summer so many of us we’re already looking ahead to next summer, excited and maybe a little worried about the great cluster-fuck that might be the summer of 2015 (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road, Tomorrowland, Monster Trucks, B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations, San Andreas, Jurassic World, Fantastic Four, Inside Out, Terminator, Minions, Ant-Man, and the new Peter Pan). Still, it all boils down to 1) Did it perform as expected?; 2) Worse?; or 3) Better? So far, the summer of 2014 is going about as well as should have been expected.
Here’s the latest Box Office Top 10:
Top 10 Actual Domestic Totals (7/11-7/13)
1. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Opening Weekend)
- Weekend Gross=$72.6 million
- Budget=$170 million
Foreign: $30.4 million from 26 territories, most notably Australia and South Korea, for a worldwide debut of $103 million.
2. Transformers: Age of Extinction
- Weekend Gross=$16.3 million
- Total Gross to Date=$208.8 million
- Budget=$210 million
Foreign: $102 million for a new international/worldwide split of $543.5/$752.3 million.
This is now the highest-grossing film in China’s history ($262 million) as well as the highest-worldwide-grossing release of 2014, zooming right past X-Men: Days of Future Past.
- Weekend Gross=$12.5 million
- Total Gross to Date=$56.9 million
- Budget=$20 million
Foreign: Currently, it has an international gross of $2.5 million from limited release for a worldwide total of $59.4 million.
Warner Bros. distribution chief Dan Fellman appears to have already written this off as a mere low-risk vanity project, telling THR, “This was a $20 million movie. This is a movie Melissa did by herself with her husband. It doesn’t have a big supporting star like Sandy [Bullock].”
4. 22 Jump Street
- Weekend Gross=$6.7 million
- Total Gross to Date=$171.9 million
- Budget=$50 million
Foreign: Currently, it has an international gross of $81.7 million for a worldwide total of $253.6 million.
5. How to Train Your Dragon 2
- Weekend Gross=$6 million
- Total Gross to Date=$152.2 million
- Budget=$145 million
Foreign: $34.4 million for a new international/worldwide split of $197.5/$349.7 million.
6. Earth to Echo
- Weekend Gross=$5.5 million
- Total Gross to Date=$24.5 million
- Budget=$13 million
Foreign: No foreign totals yet.
Disney made Earth to Echo (aka, E.T. for the found footage generation), but then decided against releasing it. In stepped Relativity Media, which paid $13 million to acquire the movie and do re-shoots. So, their investment was relatively minimal.
7. Deliver Us From Evil
- Weekend Gross=$4.7 million
- Total Gross to Date=$25 million
- Budget=$30 million
Foreign: Currently, it has an international gross of $4.7 million for a worldwide total of $29.7 million.
You absolutely can’t blame the studio for trying to capture that Conjuring box office magic by putting out this supernatural thriller in July, but audiences have clearly declared they’re not quite ready for Deliver Us From Evil‘s odd mix of Exorcist and Serpico.
- Weekend Gross=$4.1 million
- Total Gross to Date=$222 million
- Budget=$180 million
Foreign: Currently, it has an international gross of $447 million for a worldwide total of $669 million.
Worldwide, Maleficent is now the highest-grossing non-comic book movie/non-sequel of 2014.
9. Begin Again
- Weekend Gross=$2.9 million
- Total Gross to Date=$5.2 million
- Budget=They’re not telling
Foreign: Currently, its international gross totals less than $1 million, putting its worldwide total at $6 million.
Now that Chef is gone we have to some other indie darling anchoring the bottom of the top 10. Enter Begin Again, Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley’s version of Once.
10. Jersey Boys
- Weekend Gross=$2.5 million
- Total Gross to Date=$41.7 million
- Budget=$40 million
Foreign: Currently, it has an international gross of $10 million, most of it coming from Australia, France, and the UK, for a worldwide total of $51.7 million.
What Fell Out of the Top 10?:
Think Like a Man Too (#9 to #11) and Edge of Tomorrow (#10 to #13). Edge of Tomorrow exits the top 10 with a domestic gross just under $95 million thus making it unlikely to reach the $100 million mark..
What’s Up Next?:
Will Planes: Fire and Rescue succeed despite being the last animated film of the summer? Will The Purge: Anarchy deliver where current horror film Deliver Us from Evil has failed? Will Sex Tape be another Neighbors/22 Jump Street-level hit among R-rated comedies? Or will it quickly disappear like Million Ways to Die in the West?