Here’s your estimated 3-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. 22 Jump Street – $ 60.0 million ($ 60.0 million total)
2. How to Train Your Dragon 2 – $ 50.0 million ($ 50.0 million total)
3. Maleficent – $ 19.0 million ($ 163.5 million total)
4. Edge of Tomorrow – $ 16.1 million ($ 56.6 million total)
5. The Fault In Our Stars – $ 15.7 million ($ 81.7 million total)
6. X-Men: Days of Future Past – $ 9.5 million ($ 205.9 million total)
7. Godzilla – $ 3.1 million ($ 191.3 million total)
8. A Million Ways to Die in the West – $ 3.0 million ($ 38.9 million total)
9. Neighbors – $ 2.4 million ($ 143.1 million total)
10. Chef – $ 2.2 million ($ 14.0 million total)
The Big Stories
This has been one strange summer at the box office. It has taken seven weekends since the start of May for a film to reach $ 200 million and it wasn’t even the first title to start with a $ 90+ million opening. First-place finishers are dropping like flies in their second weekends and none are coming close to touching Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Lego Movie for the highest grossing films in the U.S. this year. Since 2007 there have been at least two films each summer to reach $ 300 million. I’ve been saying for weeks that I figured How To Train Your Dragon 2 as the one film to hit that plateau this season, but after being beaten by a ridiculous overpraised sequel to an overpraised television “reboot”, I honestly do not know what to believe any more.
You S.O.B.’s Are Going To #1!
“Nobody cared about the Jump Street reboot. But you got lucky.” So says the sequel’s meta dialogue referring to the $ 138.4 million the first film grossed back in March of 2012. It started with $ 36.3 million and held its ground even in the wake of The Hunger Games opening a week later. Now with a full summer launch, 22 Jump Street got a 65% bump over the first film’s start and leapt into the list of all-time “R”-rated openers.
The Matrix Reloaded ($ 91.7 million), The Hangover Part II ($ 85.9), The Passion of the Christ ($ 83.8), 300 ($ 70.8), 22 Jump Street ($ 60.0), Hannibal ($ 58.0), Sex and the City ($ 57.0), Watchmen ($ 55.2), Ted ($ 54.4), Paranormal Activity 3 ($ 52.5)
Much is being made of the film besting Ted‘s start from a few years back. In 2012, Seth MacFarlane’s film grossed 4.02 times its opening while 21 Jump Street garnered an impressive 3.81 multiplier. But this is a different kind of year. Only 11 films this year with a wide launch have hit the 3x word-of-mouth extender (Muppets Most Wanted was mere integers away) and only one of those started with over $ 42 million. That film just happened to be The Lego Movie from Jump Street directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.
If they manage to pull it off again that would be 22 Jump Street over $ 180 million in the U.S. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. Neighbors is the only film this summer with a significant start that is within distance of hitting three times its opening weekend. (It only needs another $ 4.1 million.) No matter what Jump Street‘s final tally is (and it should outgross the worldwide $ 201 million of the original) on a $ 50 million budget, the film’s success is clear for the filmmakers and Sony. Looks like Jonah Hill is going to have to “kiss the tip” of Channing Tatum which can be the drop-the-mike moment of his TMZ apology tour.
Dreamworks Needs More Training
How To Train Your Dragon grossed nearly $ 500 million for Dreamworks Animation back in 2010; its 11th-highest grosser and its 4th best original animated grosser. The Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda sequels all outgrossed their originals and the three Shrek sequels are the animated division’s top grossers. Things have not been as rosy lately over there. Despite The Croods doing quite well last year, the studio’s other animated efforts have all taken significant losses. Rise of the Guardians ($ 306.9 million worldwide), Turbo ($ 282.5) and Mr. Peabody & Sherman ($ 267.7) have all produced firings and upset on Wall Street. So how is the dragon training going?
The first film started with $ 43.7 million in March 2010. Over Memorial Day weekend in 2005, Madagascar opened to $ 47.2 million and its first sequel saw a 33% bump to $ 63.1 million in Nov. 2008. How To Train Your Dragon 2 only saw a 14% bump from a March opening into the heart of summer. Last year’s Despicable Me 2 had a 48% increase from the original’s opening and Monsters University had a 31% bump. And those films stunk. Maybe the lesson here is that cute and funny trumps epic adventure and action. (Kung Fu Panda 2‘s opening actually saw a 21% drop from the first film but thanks to an overseas bump of $ 500 million outgrossed it.) Dragon 2 has started with just $ 24.8 million overseas but opens in greater capacity next week
But how did the visually breathtaking How To Train Your Dragon 2 not have families emptying their wallets this weekend? Sure, Maleficent is still doing well. Is this a case of little boys losing their allowance on Spider-Man, Godzilla and X-Men already and now have to save up again just in time for a sequel to Planes? The good news for Dreamworks is that the only upcoming films on the schedule for families are that and Earth to Echo. And if it manages to hold the way the first film did it will still make close to $ 250 million, which would still be good enough to be the biggest film of the summer to date. But if the film cannot even manage that feat, Dreamworks Animation should just fold up for good. Or, at least, after completing the How To Train Your Dragon trilogy in 2016.
Tales of the Top Ten
Last week’s #1, The Fault In Our Stars, continued the trend of massive dips this summer. $ 26 of its $ 48 million last weekend was made Thursday night and Friday. Now like Godzilla and X-Men, the film is down over 60% in weekend two (67% to be precise) and is now looking at around $ 115 million for another very healthy profit for Fox this year and its fourth success in a row. Edge of Tomorrow, on the other hand, had a much better hold. Such is par for the course of a film this summer where everyone apparently didn’t show up for opening weekend. $ 19-20 million was the hope for Warner Bros. for the film’s word of mouth to truly be traveling. They will settle for $ 16. Another decent hold next week and it will be over $ 70 million in the U.S. The studio could possibly declare victory if it stretches to $ 100 million here and manages another $ 250 overseas. A $ 50 million loss would still be better than the hit on Blended. Maybe then all the box office analysts can change their stories from Tom Cruise’s career being in trouble to Adam Sandler’s. As it should be.
Down the list, X-Men: Days of Future Past, as stated last week is now the first film of the summer to reach $ 200 million (with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 at $ 198.2 million and Godzilla at $ 191.4 million.) WB would love to squeeze the monster for another $ 9 million to avoid it being the first film to open to over $ 86 million and not reach that mark. Though don’t count out Spidey from making history either. Disney’s Maleficent is certainly going to make its own run to pass both of them on the summer: it should have somewhere close to $ 185 million by next weekend.
Jon Favreau’s Chef continues to find its audience, making it one of the limited release success stories of the year. The man posted a big loss for Universal with Cowboys and Aliens back in 2011 and now that studio has their own good news/bad news of the summer. Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West is not going to gross what Ted did in its first three days, headed for a minimal $ 45 million or so in the U.S. With only $ 20 million overseas, it will be the biggest loss for Universal on the year. On the flipside, Neighbors is not only going to be the first film of the summer to hit the 3x multiplier, but in doing so will become Seth Rogen’s highest-grossing live-action film to date as well as one of the top five films in profit of 2014 and Universal’s top net profit of the year.
Erik Childress can be seen each Thursday morning on WCIU-TV’s First Business breaking down the box office on the Movies & Money segment.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]