Here’s your estimated 3-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Transformers: Age of Extinction – $ 100.0 million ($ 100.0 million total)
2. 22 Jump Street – $ 15.4 million ($ 139.8 million total)
3. How to Train Your Dragon 2 – $ 13.1 million ($ 121.8 million total)
4. Think Like a Man Too – $ 10.1 million ($ 48.1 million total)
5. Maleficent – $ 8.2 million ($ 201.8 million total)
6. Jersey Boys – $ 7.6 million ($ 27.3 million total)
7. Edge of Tomorrow – $ 5.2 million ($ 84.1 million total)
8. The Fault In Our Stars – $ 4.8 million ($ 109.5 million total)
9. X-Men: Days of Future Past – $ 3.3 million ($ 223.3 million total)
10. Chef – $ 1.65 million ($ 19.4 million total)
The Big Stories
There are people in this world who have no right to complain about Michael Bay. Too many people. For all the worthy grief given to him by critics and moviegoers who know his name as a punchline to the worst of the worst, filmgoers continue to show up to his movies. Why? Did he promise you it won’t be like the last time, baby? After two-and-a-half hour assault on the senses and good taste were you convinced that you actually just walked into a door or fell down the stairs? Do you personally know anyone who loves the Transformers series so much that they would continue to show up on opening weekend to the fourth entry. Someone out there must like it enough, though. How else can it best Captain America, X-Men and Godzilla to be the biggest opening of 2014?
More Than Meets Someone’s Eye
While Shia LeBeouf was proving he could get arrested in this town, or at least some town, Mark Wahlberg was taking an easy paycheck from his Pain & Gain director. Though any hopes of Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes reboot becoming a franchise were dashed (now in favor of a superior reboot), Wahlberg now looks to have his own trilogy on the way. With Transformers 5 already greenlit, part 4 has given the actor his second $ 100 million grosser in a row and the eighth of his career. Just how far can the franchise go? Consider this chart and remember that Age of Extinction is the first of the series to open on a Friday.
Film / Opening Day / 3-Days / 10-Days / U.S. Gross / Worldwide Gross
(2007) Transformers – $ 27.8 / $ 84.9 / $ 186.9 / $ 319.2 / $ 709.7 million
(2009) Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – $ 62.0 / $ 127.8 / $ 269.0 / $ 402.1 / $ 836.3 million
(2011) Transformers: Dark of the Moon – $ 37.7 / $ 97.7 / $ 228.8 / $ 352.3 / $ 1.123 billion
(2014) Transformers: Age of Extinction – $ 41.6 / $ 100.0? / ??? / ???
Much is being made about how Hollywood is happy to see these big numbers for Transformers, giving the box office the kind of summer hit that it has been lacking. Let’s not mistake words here. X-Men: Days of Future Past, Neighbors, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, The Fault In Our Stars, Maleficent, Godzilla and 22 Jump Street are all HITS for their studios. Profit-makers one and all with wildly varying budgets. The problem is that the big budget ones achieved their status thanks to big international numbers.In America, the drop-offs have been much larger week-to-week.
So why is there panic in Hollywood’s eyes? Maybe because the summer box office has not failed to have a $ 300 million grosser from May-August since 2001 (when Shrek ruled with $ 267 million.) The titles that have preceded it seem unlikely to pass $ 240 million in the U.S., and nothing the rest of the way looking to challenge X-Men and Maleficent (except possibly the Apes), Transformers may just be the last hope for a $ 300 million grosser this summer. Or this year.
Tales of the Top Ten
Maleficent will soon be the second film of the summer to actually make three times its opening weekend. (Neighbors just squeaking by as the first.) Disney’s revisionist Angelina Jolie fairy tale also became the second film this summer to pass $ 200 million in the U.S. this weekend. Though Sony looks to be finally pushing The Amazing Spider-Man 2 over that benchmark. Even better for the studio is that 22 Jump Street continues to do terrific business, now outgrossing the film’s original U.S. take. It is a solid hit for Sony to help continue to repair their disastrous first quarter. The same cannot be said for Think Like a Man Too which suffered a heavy (but expected) drop in its second weekend and with international prospects very slight, might be looking at a breakeven proposition at best.
Warner Bros. continues to hope the same can be said of Edge of Tomorrow, which is going to pass $ 90 million in the U.S. but likely come up short of $ 100. That will be fine if the film can squeeze out another $ 90 million overseas. It will be a minor victory for them and a greater one for Tom Cruise as it should shut up everyone declaring his career in trouble. At least until the next film. A minor victory for WB is something they will happily take as Jersey Boys is going the Rock of Ages route this summer. Not nearly as big a loser as that film but could bear the distinction of being the biggest live-action bomb of the summer.
Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return could likely be declared the biggest bomb of the summer (animation or live-action) depending on what’s in store for Brett Ratner’s Hercules, of course. But Dreamworks’ How To Train Your Dragon 2 has to be labeled the summer’s biggest disappointment at the box office. Another 45% in just its third weekend means that the sequel to one of the great surprises of 2010 is not going to come close to matching the original’s $ 217 million. On top of that, if the film fails to hit a half-billion worldwide, some more heads are likely to roll at the studio and there will be serious doubts about the prospect of the trilogy’s completion in 2016. The films still needs another $ 150 million just to break even and here we have U.S. audiences giving nearly as much to Transformers in 3 days as they have to the Dragon in 3 weeks. Shame on us all.
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]