Here’s your estimated 3-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. The Fault In Our Stars – $ 48.2 million ($ 48.2 million total)
2. Maleficent – $ 33.5 million ($ 127.3 million total)
3. Edge of Tomorrow – $ 29.1 million ($ 29.1 million total)
4. X-Men: Days of Future Past – $ 14.7 million ($ 189.1 million total)
5. A Million Ways to Die in the West – $ 7.1 million ($ 30.0 million total)
6. Godzilla – $ 5.9 million ($ 185.0 million total)
7. Neighbors – $ 5.2 million ($ 137.8 million total)
8. Blended – $ 4.0 million ($ 36.5 million total)
9. Chef – $ 2.6 million ($ 10.3 million total)
10. Million Dollar Arm – $ 1.8 million ($ 31.3 million total)
The Big Stories
If there is one thing we all know about cancer, it’s a growth industry. We have all been affected by it in some way and the treatment of it has certainly kept hospitals and specialty centers in business. The all-consuming disease can have such an impact of some people’s lives that one can imagine them never wanting to see a movie or television show merely mentioning the “C” word. On the other hand, movies that treat the symptoms with hope, sympathy and sensitivity can provide comfort. Or they become an opportunity to jerk tears from a cheesy romance. (Looking at you, Nicholas Sparks.) The Fault In Our Stars ultimately falls somewhere in the middle of those two extremes, but it looks to be the rare film about the disease to pull people in from both ends of the spectrum.
No Fault Here
Perhaps I do not follow the literary world as much as I do the cinematic one, but it seems these days I often do not hear of these best-sellers until the movie is announced. Although I still have not come across one person who has actually read Water for Elephants. Point is it took a while to believe just what a monster John Green’s novel was about to become on the big screen. Hollywood Stock Exchange had its over/under set at $ 35 million for opening weekend. Much of the tracking suggested at least as much, though Fox continued to play coy. No need to anymore, as the film has started with the 9th best opening of 2014, just behind Neighbors and Shailene Woodley’s other supposedly big adaptation.
There hasn’t been a lot for teenage girls this year outside of Divergent. Their moms got The Other Woman over a month ago (which is also the title of a 1995 Jill Eikenberry TV film about cancer as opposed to the 2014 film which was just cancerous) and their little sisters got to see Maleficent last week. But aside from the Endless Love remake, which they pretty roundly rejected, what have they had to claim as their own? The Fault In Our Stars is not a Twilight-like phenomenon, but the word of mouth is likely to trickle over to their moms and then their mom’s friends and even guys who won’t mind sitting through four eulogies if they feel they’ll be more appreciated afterwards. A $ 48 million start is impressive when you consider the list of films that have dealt with cancer over the years.
Terms of Endearment ($ 108.4 million), Love Story ($ 106.3), The Bucket List ($ 93.4), Stepmom ($ 91.1), Funny People ($ 51.8), My Sister’s Keeper ($ 49.2), A Walk to Remember ($ 41.2), The Doctor ($ 38.1), 50/50 ($ 35.0), My Life ($ 27.8), Sweet November ($ 25.2), One True Thing ($ 23.2), Life as a House ($ 15.6)
Keep in mind that those 1983 Terms of Endearment dollars would be worth about $ 258 million today and if that inflation calculator is correct, 1970s Love Story would have made nearly as much as Titanic. The Fault In Our Stars is not going to pull in that much, but it will be amusing when it puts that supposedly big event film, Divergent, in its rear-view mirror.
All You Need Is Kill
That was the original title of Edge of Tomorrow, a less-cool title that nevertheless more properly encapsulates the film. No one wants to talk about titles though. They all want to knock Tom Cruise down another peg. Admittedly at the beginning of the summer, I was on record saying that his latest film would not crack $ 100 million in the U.S. That had nothing to do with the quality or tracking reports which had not even been released yet, only a preview that seemed a lot like Groundhog Day and appeared destined to get swallowed up in the midst of franchises, sequels and Shailene Woodley cancer films. Then myself and everyone saw the film and we all seem to be in agreement that it would be a shame if this turned out to be the first big money loser of the summer.
Edge of Tomorrow is carrying a production budget of $ 178 million and needs over $ 400 million to break even. A $ 29 million start in the U.S. is precisely what Warner Bros. feared. Last year’s Oblivion opened to $ 37 million (in April) and couldn’t hit $ 90 million. Word of mouth is likely to be better than that film (it’s the sixth best-reviewed wide release of 2014 at Rotten Tomatoes) and there is still hope that Cruise’s popularity overseas will help fill in the overhead. Cruise and sci-fi has done well outside the U.S., but then again look at how Cruise has done since Top Gun.
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol ($ 485.3), War of the Worlds ($ 357.4), The Last Samurai ($ 345.6), Mission Impossible II ($ 330.9), Mission Impossible ($ 276.7), Mission Impossible III ($ 263.8), Minority Report ($ 226.3), Oblivion ($ 197.0), Knight & Day ($ 185.5), Rain Man ($ 182.0), Top Gun ($ 177.0), Jack Reacher ($ 138.2), Jerry Maguire ($ 119.6), Interview with the Vampire ($ 118.4), Valkyrie ($ 117.1), Collateral ($ 116.7), The Firm ($ 111.9), Eyes Wide Shut ($ 106.4), Vanilla Sky ($ 102.7), A Few Good Men ($ 101.9)
That’s 20 films to cross $ 100 million overseas and Edge of Tomorrow is already #21 with $ 111 million. But it’s going to need to grab $ 300 million overseas for WB not to take a major hit on this one; a feat achieved only by four of Cruise’s films. Three of which were two Mission Impossibles and a disaster film directed by Steven Spielberg. As Edge is based on the Japanese manga novel, All You Need Is Kill, maybe it can get a big enough boost so that this falls under the labeling of disappointment rather than bomb. That’s unfortunate for one of the best films of the summer so far.
Tales of the Top Ten
Following up on last week’s topic, X-Men: Days of Future Past looks like it is going to win the race to be the first film this summer to cross the $ 200 million mark. Though both The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Godzilla started better, both are limping their way towards the target and stronger word of mouth on X-Men have put it on pace to temporarily take the lead on the summer box office. Spidey is still $ 7 million ahead but it pulled in a mere $ 1.6 million on the weekdays last week compared to X-Men‘s $ 12.3. By Friday next week, X-Men will be over $ 200 million and Spidey will be somewhere between $ 197-198. Congrats to the mutants.
Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent had a better drop than any of the big-budget releases this summer and is likely to match its $ 175 million budget in the U.S. and needs only $ 75 million more total to be in profit. (It’s over $ 335 million worldwide.) It will take a bigger hit next week as this summer’s #1 film in waiting, How To Train Your Dragon 2, is released.
As for the lower-budget comedies still hanging around until all their fans go see 22 Jump Street, Neighbors is still on pace to be Seth Rogen’s highest live-action grosser to date. Blended is going to pass Adam Sandler’s That’s My Boy this week but is not going to top his own cancer film, Funny People. That is amounting to a loser for Warner Bros. Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West is not going to reach the opening weekend of Ted in its overall U.S. gross, which is a disappointment for Universal, but they can always look to Neighbors as one of the most profitable films of the year. Better news for Jon Favreau’s Chef, which cannot compare numbers with most of the films this summer, but continues to expand and continues to find an audience. It’s the discovery film of the season. To profit on its success, look for the upcoming sequel where all the food that seemingly gives everyone orgasms in the film actually gives them cancer. Millions are waiting.
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]