Here are your estimated three-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Maleficent - $70.0 million ($70.0 million total)
2. X-Men: Days of Future Past - $32.6 million ($162.0 million total)
3. A Million Ways to Die in the West - $17.0 million ($17.0 million total)
4. Godzilla - $12.2 million ($174.6 million total)
5. Blended - $8.4 million ($29.6 million total)
6. Neighbors - $7.7 million ($128.6 million total)
7. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - $3.77 million ($192.7 million total)
8. Million Dollar Arm - $3.70 million ($28.0 million total)
9. Chef - $2.0 million ($6.9 million total)
10. The Other Woman - $0.77 million ($81.1 million total)
The Big Stories
"Mommy, I want to see Frozen again." "It's not in theaters anymore, honey." "Then how did it just become the fifth highest grossing film of all time worldwide, Mommy?" "How do you know such things?" "I read a cool box office column and watch this guy on TV every week, now shut up and let's go." "I told you its not playing, sweetheart. You can watch your Blu-ray, or we can go see Magnificent." "Is that with Adele Dezeem?" "No it stars Alana Jerkson. You want to go?" "Next best thing available, I guess. I mean, it's not like we're going to see The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla or X-Men: Days of Future Past again." "Apparently neither is anyone else, sweetie. Let's go."
Begins in Minuteness but Ends in Maleficence
Alice in Wonderland opened with $116.1 million and grossed over $334 million in the U.S. and over a billion dollars worldwide. Oz the Great and Powerful started with $79.1 million and finished with $234.9 million in the U.S. and $493 million worldwide. Snow White and the Huntsman had a batting line of $56.2/$155.3/$396.5. Disney's Maleficent is starting better than the recent PG-13 version of reinventing classic stories but less than the studio's two big spring tentpoles from 2010 and 2013. None of these films were particularly well received by critics. Oz nearly captured a fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes with 59% while Alice garnered 51% and Snow White 48%. Once again, Maleficent is slightly better than the latter with a 49% rating.
Thanks to reshoots, Maleficent (which HitFix's Drew McWeeny called "Disney's I Spit on Your Grave") cost upwards of $175 million. Big deal, right? It's the fifth film this year with production costs over $150 million and the fourth film this summer. But megahigh budgets have not been a problem for the studios in 2014 so far. Both The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ($255 million budget) and Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($170 budget) made out okay. Godzilla ($160 million) is going to pull in enough overseas to make it a success, and X-Men: Days of Future Past looks to be the first film in the franchise to pull in half a billion.
Can first-time director Robert Stromberg be a survivor too? Overseas totals are initially strong on Maleficent (over $100 million so far), but will the film continue to connect with women and young girls? (There is seemingly nothing for males in this one except the discovery that their girlfriend has really bad taste in films.) Unless mothers flock with their daughters to see the anticipated cancer romance The Fault in Our Stars, there is very little to be offered for the young ladies in June. "Here's a ticket to How to Train Your Dragon 2; Mommy's going to go Think Like a Man." "Eh, Too, Mommy." "Et tu to you, too, you little brat."
A Million and One Ways to Die?
Seth MacFarlane's A Million Ways to Die in the West was taken down a peg by film critics this week, getting served with a 34% rating. To show you how bad this year has been for wide releases, that is still good enough for 30th place on a list of 55. (Maleficent's 49% is tied for 21st.) In 2012, MacFarlane's Ted got a 68% and over $549 million to be the highest grossing nonsequel R-rated comedy in box office history. His follow-up will be fortunate to do a third of that. Disappointment, maybe, but don't throw out the "B" word so quickly. Or the other "D" word that too many are quick to jump to. That's "bomb" and "disaster," for those playing at home.
A Million Ways to Die in the West (not to be confused with Hal Ashby's 8 Million Ways to Die) actually cost less to make than Ted ($40 million vs. $50 million) so the bar for profit is far less. It grabs $40 million in the U.S. and another $80 million overseas (a fraction of Ted's $330 million; it's made just over $10 million so far) and Universal has another victory. The folks there can sit back and plan to reap profits on the five films they have opening between July 18 and Labor Day. They can practically coast through the rest of 2014 and prepare for what promises to be an absolutely epic 2015 that begins in April with Fast & Furious 7 and then continues into the summer with Pitch Perfect 2, Jurassic World, the Despicable Me spin-off Minions and, of course, Ted 2. MacFarlane's reputation may have taken a hit with such a dreary and unfunny sophomore effort, but he'll be back in the good graces of the studios a year from now. Hopefully his fans will still be on board.
Sad Tales of the Top 10
At the beginning of the summer, I believed that a number of films were going to struggle to hit that magical number of $200 million. My projections only had three in that range (How to Train Your Dragon 2, Transformers: Age of Extinction and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, in that order.) After bigger than expected openings for Godzilla and X-Men: Days of Future Past, it seemed like I had seriously underestimated their potential. But now that potential has an even grimmer connotation to it.
There have been four openings of over $90 million this year so far. There were just as many in the whole of 2013 (though three of them were well over $110 million), Last year finished with 13 films grossing over $200 million in the U.S., seven of which were during the summer. The year 2014 has both The Lego Movie and Captain America: The Winter Soldier over $250 million (the latter of which is just $10,000 away from being the number one U.S. grosser of the year). Oz the Great and Powerful was the only film before the summer to hit the $200 million mark, and then the next three opened in the month of May. How does this May look in comparison? The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla and X-Men: Days of Future Past all started with over $90 million in their first three days. Of the 34 previous films to open with that much money in box office history not one failed to reach $200 million. All three of these films are flirting with that disappointment.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 dipped 59.7% in its second weekend where it had $146.2 million in the bank. After day 31 it is at $192.7 million and will be spending its last weekend in the Top 10 next week with maybe another $2 million. Sony will do whatever it has to do to make sure that odometer clicks over to $200, but it is going to be close and may be the least impressive $200 million ever.
Godzilla opened better than Spidey, but then it dropped 66.8% in weekend two, where it had $148.2 million. It has $174.2 million as of this weekend -- just a couple million more than Spidey's $172.1 million, but it made over $4.5 million less on weekend three. It is dropping much quicker. Though we may see it in the Top 10 through the weekend of June 20, it will be making peanuts by then and it will take a miracle for it to hit $200 million, making it the first film to open with $90 million and not hit that milestone. Unless Spidey does so first.
Last weekend's X-Men: Days of Future Past got an extra boost with the four-day holiday and all. Some people may have waited until Monday, hence the lower three-day take than Spidey and Godzilla. I said $40 million was the number Fox wanted to hit this weekend to give it a shot to beat X-Men: The Last Stand's $234.3 million (which is the lowest total gross of any film to start with over $90 million opening weekend). Anything less and it was probably going to finish between that and X2's $214.9 million. Except the film dropped more than anyone expected. A 64% drop finds the film at $162 million. That's a $14 million edge on Spidey. If it continues to follow the Godzilla trajectory (which it is currently on) it would have about $182 million through weekend three. $200 million is still very possible. Anything over $12 million next weekend could be just enough. But it is also still possible that three films are going to kick off this summer by doing something 34 other films never came close to doing.
That is an unimpressive feat for any film or any studio, but none of them are likely to get too worked up as long as each of them cover their budgets. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has already done so. Godzilla is very close. X-Men passed $500 million this weekend, so it is making a profit. Depending on which budget you believe. of course. Next week we get to do it all over again as one of the better films of the summer, Edge of Tomorrow, opens. Its budget is also in the $175 million range and there is a lot of speculation that it could be the first "B" or "D" of the summer. That would be a tremendous shame since compared to Spidey or Maleficent it's an "A."
- 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]
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