Box Office Top 10 Film News

Box Office: 4 Reasons Jurassic World Had the Biggest Global Opening of All Time

UPDATED 7/16/15, replacing the estimated box office totals with the actual totals

Dinosaurs are inherently cool. Nostalgia’s a bitch. It’s the first thing Chris Pratt’s been in since Guardians of the Galaxy made him a star. It had no competition.

These are just a couple of the explanations you’re going to hear thrown around by those attempting to understand why exactly Jurassic World just did what it did. It was simply supposed to open in North America with a healthy $125 million. Instead, it made $208.8m, the biggest opening weekend in film history, beating The Avengers ($207.4m). Yes, as Deadline explained last year, the art of movie marketing tracking is in the toilet, but this isn’t some movie making $10m-$20m less than pre-release projections. We’re talking a $85m difference between expectations and reality, and the result is that after a mere 3 days in theaters Jurassic World is already the third highest grossing film in North America this year.  Moreover, Universal put it out in every single major market other than Japan, and the entire world went crazy for it, delivering a global opening ($516m) which easily bested the previous record-holder, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 ($483.2 million).

On the topic of a Jurassic World sequel, Universal’s head of distribution told THR, “We’re saying that if the filmmakers agree, we’d love to have another movie. But right now we are concentrating on this movie.”

Really, this shouldn’t have happened. Not like this. Granted, Universal is very good at opening movies these days, with Fifty Shades of Grey, Furious 7 and Pitch Perfect 2 all trouncing expectations. Now, thanks to Jurassic World, Universal is 2015’s leading film studio in global market share. However, there were reasons to expect all of those over-performances, be it the unique fanbases behind the Fifty Shades books/first Pitch Perfect movie or the hook of seeing Paul Walker’s final movie. Even in the case of the non-Universal films whose records Jurassic World has broken/might break, the first Avengers was an entirely unique movie event combing multiple film franchises into one mega-sequel, and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 was a similarly unique culmination of both a series of novels and films in which we literally grew up with the characters. Those stood out at the time as remarkably significant releases in film history.

Jurassic World, on the other hand, is the first sequel in over a decade for a franchise which had worn out its welcome. The first Jurassic Park, released 22 years ago, was a box office behemoth in its day, with a worldwide gross ($920.1m) which more than doubled that of the second highest-grossing film of 1993 (Mrs. Doubtfire, $423.2m).  However, it was an inevitable slide downhill from there, with the sequels adhering to the laws of diminishing returns, 1997’s The Lost World making $618m worldwide and 2001’s Jurassic Park III making $368m.

But perhaps the key to truly understanding what Jurassic World just pulled off is to remember just how big of a deal the first Jurassic Park was when it came out in 1993. As BirthMoviesDeath recalled, “Jurassic Park was more than the biggest movie of 1993 – for a long time it was the 2nd highest grosser ever in North America (behind Spielberg’s own ET), and the highest overall worldwide until Titanic dethroned it in 1997 […] It crushed everything in its path that summer, most embarrassingly Last Action Hero; It stayed in theaters so long that the VHS took well over a year to come out, practically unheard of in that era (even Titanic only took 9 months), and video games, comics, toys, etc all kept the license alive and well(ish) for the four years it took for the obligatory sequel, allowing it to break all kinds of records of its own when released.”

Jurassic-Park-3D-LogoSure, the sequels tapered off, but when Universal commemorated Jurassic Park’s 20th anniversary with a 3D theatrical re-release in 2013 it opened in the top 5, going on to ultimately pull in an impressive $45m domestic and $44.5m international.  That was pocket change compared to the $343m earned by the 3D re-release of Titanic a year earlier, but it did push Jurassic Park‘s lifetime worldwide gross above $1 billion, likely acting as a market test for whether there would be an audience for a new Jurassic movie.

So, it was sort of a no-brainer for Jurassic World to largely ignore the sequels and act more like it was a direct sequel to Jurassic Park. As BirthMoviesDeath put it, “22 years later, it remains a seminal and much loved film for a variety of reasons, and it’s probably 99% of the reason anyone is excited about the new one.” However, nostalgia can’t completely explain this. Maybe there’s also something to the fact that this felt familiar due to the Jurassic association but also different from the other blockbusters of the moment, most definitely not a comic book movie and even quite a bit different from recent monster movies like Godzilla and Pacific Rim. Maybe Universal’s aggressive partnership with North American ticket agency Fandango to offer $7.50 discounts on Jurassic World ticket purchases to anyone buying Blu-Ray/Digital copies of the original three Jurassic movies helped.

The Hollywood Reporter tried to break all of this down into four categories:

  1. Boys Love Their Dinosaurs

Males made up 58 percent of the audience, and particularly younger males, who are an endangered species at the box office. That’s why so many tentpoles have underperformed in North America in recent times. Males are also more willing to shell out extra money for Imax and 3D, helping to explain why nearly 50 percent of Jurassic‘s gross is coming from 3D houses. According to Rentrak’s PostTrak service, 50 percent of ticket buyers were under the age of 25, a hearty showing. And of the kids turning out with their families, nearly 60 percent were boys, including 24 percent under the age of 10. (In the run up to the movie’s opening, Universal sister company NBC aired the original Jurassic Park on stations across the country.)

Ah, hah!  This is all just 3D inflation, isn’t it?  Um, actually, no.  Well, sure that helped, but on the domestic side even if you adjust for ticket price inflation or simply look at the number of tickets sold Jurassic World still easily had the second biggest opening of all time.

  1. Chris Pratt

The affable actor toiled for years in supporting roles before Guardians of the Galaxy, James Gunn‘s quirky superhero movie, surprised and transformed into a global hit last summer. Thanks to Guardians and Jurassic World, he’s now a bona-fide leading man.

Sure, Guardians of the Galaxy was back in August, but it was the third biggest film last year.  Ever since then, the internet and Hollywood have fallen in love with Pratt, whose name is seemingly never out of headlines since he’s constantly linked to major movies, be it a new Indiana Jones or Ghostbusters team-up with Channing Tatum, even if some of that is just down to complete bullshit rumors.

  1. China

The majority of Hollywood tentpoles don’t get to open right away in China, depressing the overall global opening. But not Jurassic World. The movie rolled out in a total of 66 foreign markets over the weekend, earning $307.2 million — including $100.8 million in China. Put another way, that’s one-fifth of the tentpole’s entire global gross.

So, this might seem ever so slightly more impressive than it is simply because most Hollywood movies don’t get to include China in a worldwide opening weekend.

  1. Theme Parks

Millions of consumers around the globe have become familiar with the dinosaur property via Universal’s theme parks, which have made huge gains in the last four years in terms of attendance and revenue. There are multiple Jurassic Park attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood, Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Universal Studios Japan and Universal Studios Singapore. NBCUniversal’s expanding theme-park business is thriving, and is the fastest-growing segment of the media company.

Interestingly, Jimmy Fallon has a cameo as himself in Jurassic World as a kind of virtual tour guide for one of the rides, which is an in-joke since he actually does that in real life for several rides at Universal theme parks.

Maybe, at the end of the day, the world was simply ready to come back around to what was a cool and universally relatable idea when Michael Crichton thought it up and even cooler when Steven Spielberg made it into a movie – What if we could bring dinosaurs back to life?

This Weekend’s Actual Box Office Top 10 Totals (6/12-6/14)

1) Jurassic World (Debut)

  • Production Budget=$150m
  • Weekend Gross (Domestic)=$208.8m
  • Weekend Gross (International)=$307.2m
  • Worldwide=$516m

2) Spy

  • Production Budget=$65m
  • Weekend Gross (Domestic)=$15.6m
  • Weekend Gross (International)=$13.5m
  • Domestic/International/Worldwide=$56.5m/$80m/$136.5m

3) San Andreas

  • Production Budget=$110m
  • Weekend Gross (Domestic)=$10.8m
  • Weekend Gross (International)=$42.5m
  • Domestic/International/Worldwide=$119.1m/$254m/$373.1m

4) Insidious Chapter 3

  • Production Budget=They’re not telling
  • Weekend Gross (Domestic)=$7.3m
  • Weekend Gross (International)=$6.7m
  • Domestic/International/Worldwide=$37.3m/$26.3m/$63.7m

5) Pitch Perfect 2

  • Production Budget=They’re not telling
  • Weekend Gross (Domestic)=$6.3m
  • Weekend Gross (International)=$2m
  • Domestic/International/Worldwide=$171.1m/$89m/$260.1m

6) Entourage

  • Production Budget=They’re not telling
  • 3-Day Weekend Gross (Domestic)=$4.1m
  • Weekend Gross (International)=$1.8m
  • Domestic/International/Worldwide=$25.7m/$6m/$31.7m

7) Mad Max: Fury Road

  • Production Budget=$150m
  • Weekend Gross (Domestic)=$4m
  • Weekend Gross (International)=$5.4m
  • Domestic/International/Worldwide=$138.5m/$195.1m/$333.6m

8) Avengers: Age of Ultron

  • Production Budget=$250m
  • Weekend Gross (Domestic)=$3.6m
  • Weekend Gross (International)=$2m
  • Domestic/International/Worldwide=$444.7m/$917.2m/$1.36b

For those who may not have noticed yet, Age of Ultron has passed the international take of the first Avengers ($895m).

9) Tomorrowland

  • Production Budget=$190m
  • Weekend Gross (Domestic)=$3.4m
  • Weekend Gross (International)=$4.6m
  • Domestic/International/Worldwide=$83.6m/$102.9m/$186.5m

10) Love and Mercy

  • Production Budget=They’re not telling
  • Weekend Gross (Domestic)=$1.6m
  • Weekend Gross (International)=Less than $100K
  • Domestic Total=$4.6m

This Brian Wilson biopic starring John Cusack and Paul Dano as the Beach Boys frontman at two different periods of his life expanded this weekend, but it’s still not playing in wide release.

What Left the Top 10?: Aloha (Current total: $22m worldwide/$37m budget), Poltergiest (Current total: $72.1m worldwide)

What’s Up Next?: Film festival hit Dope, starring no one you’ve probably ever heard of, bravely opens wide in the middle of summer, a bold move by the distributor, Open Road Films. Similar festival darling Me, Earl and the Dying Girl is already out there, undergoing a platform release. Hopefully they’ll both find audiences because they’ll have the second weekend of Jurassic World to contend with as well as the first weekend of Inside Out, Pixar’s first new movie in two years.

Sources: Rentrak, THR, BoxOfficeMojo


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