Here are your estimated three-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Transformers: Age of Extinction - $36.4 million ($174.7 million total)
2. Tammy - $21.1 million ($32.9 million total)
3. Deliver Us from Evil - $9.5 million ($15.0 million total)
4. 22 Jump Street - $9.4 million ($158.8 million total)
5. How to Train Your Dragon 2 - $8.7 million ($140.0 million total)
6. Earth to Echo - $8.2 million ($13.5 million total)
7. Maleficent - $6.1 million ($213.8 million total)
8. Jersey Boys - $5.1 million ($36.7 million total)
9. Think Like a Man Too - $4.9 million ($57.1 million total)
10. Edge of Tomorrow - $3.6 million ($90.8 million total)
The Big Stories
Nothing like a little chaos at the box office. Actually, three subpar and poorly received new releases fighting over the scraps of what Michael Bay has left them is hardly an interesting sort of chaos. Day-to-day through the weekend the rankings may have changed and some studios may be feeling better about films than others, but there was really very little drama this weekend. No real danger of any new big floppy flops. No overwhelming success story to report. It's just business as usual for Hollywood.
Does Melissa McCarthy Need Some New Shtick?
Melissa McCarthy has certainly broken out into star status since her Oscar-nominated turn in 2011's Bridesmaids. The former Gilmore Girls costar and current Mike & Molly star helped turn both 2013's Identity Thief and The Heat into bona fide successes to the tune of $134 and $159 million, respectively, if for nothing else than playing some variation on the uncouth bull in a china shop she was nominated for. And she's at it again in Tammy, though this time without the support of Jason Bateman and Sandra Bullock-- and it's going to take more like six days rather than three to match the $34.5 million start of Identity Thief.
That is still very good on a $20 million budget for Warner Bros., which still has three films in the red this summer since the success of Godzilla. But it is also potentially the first recognition that audiences might like to see McCarthy change it up a bit. Bring that character to Saturday Night Live and liven that place up, but for $10 (plus concessions) it's time for some new shtick.
Aliens and Demons
For all you Doctor Strange fans out there, may you be reminded that the chosen director for your upcoming film is Scott Derrickson, the helmer of Deliver Us from Evil, as well as The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister and that Day the Earth Stood Still remake. Good luck with that. Of course one cannot fault the guy when it comes to delivering profits. A $3 million budget on Sinister reaped over $77 million worldwide. Emily Rose was made for $19 million and grossed over $144 million. Even that horrendous big-budget remake managed $233 million after wasting $80. Deliver Us from Evil is going to be the lowest grossing film of Derrickson's career and even with a $20 million budget is going to need some worldwide help to recoup.
Even though Sony has had a pretty good summer with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and 22 Jump Street, its Screen Gems division is not having a particularly good year with About Last Night, Think Like a Man Too and now this. If there is one positive to come out of this, some people may now discover Amy Berg's terrific documentary about true religious-based evil of the same name.
Then, for all you Batteries Not Included fans out there, Relativity's Earth to Echo is also in theaters. More parents took their kids to see this the past five days than How to Train Your Dragon 2 in its fourth week. Bad parents! There is even less to say about the film's $15 million over five days unless you are truly interested in revisiting the lackluster openings on Relativity's resume. (Its five-day start is slightly better than Jennifer Lawrence in A House at the End of the Street and not quite Luc Besson's The Family.) Instead, how about we look at the 10 weakest five-day starts this summer on films released on over 2,000 screens:
Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return ($4.1 million), Million Dollar Arm ($12.1), Earth to Echo ($13.5), Deliver Us from Evil ($15.0), Jersey Boys ($16.7), Blended ($19.1), A Million Ways to Die in the West ($20.2), Tammy ($32.9), Think Like a Man Too ($34.2), Edge of Tomorrow ($35.4)
Holiday weekend or not, smaller releases or not, the numbers on the newbies this week are rather reflective of the summer box office as a whole: good enough to get the job done but hardly one to remember.
Tales of the Top 10
Do you want the good news or the bad news first? The bad is that Transformers: Age of Extinction has grossed over $575 million worldwide (including over $212 million in China alone) and is going to make its play to pass X-Men: Days of Future Past as the highest grossing film of the year (at over $715 million.) The good news is that Michael Bay's latest has followed this summer's trend of 60%+ drops in their second weekend (64% to be precise). That puts number four behind the pace of the 2007 original's $186.9 million in 10 days, though still well ahead of Captain America and looks to overtake it as the highest grossing film in the U.S., too. However, if Dawn of the Planet of the Apes makes another serious dent into its take next weekend, the reality may finally set in that we will not see a $300 million grosser for the first summer since 2001. (FUN FACT: No film has ever opened between July 21 and November 8 and grossed $300 million in the U.S.)
Maleficent of all films could be the biggest hit of the summer, now less than $14 million behind X-Men in the U.S. (It is now the fourth most profitable film of 2014.) Warner Bros.' Jersey Boys is going to outgross Rock of Ages at nearly half the budget, but it is still far away from breaking even. So is the studio's Edge of Tomorrow, and yet as it makes a final push to reach the vaunted $100 million in the U.S. (just $9 million to go) it can't help but feel like some kind of minor victory that it qualifies more as a big disappointment rather than some kind of career-ending megabomb (which it was never going to be.) The bigger disappointment continues over Dreamworks' How to Train Your Dragon 2, which is just finally passing $250 million worldwide. With Rio 2 and The Lego Movie at $474 and $467 million, respectively, and even Mr. Peabody & Sherman finishing at $268.4 million, this may not be just the disappointment of the summer but of all 2014.
This was the weekend of our independence, so let us end things on a positive note. There are three movies in limited release that are really good and worth mentioning. Begin Again and Snowpiercer garnered $1.3 million and $999,000, respectively, this weekend. A good film and one of the year's best films need to be discovered, so it would be nice to see a little extended effort from Weinstein to try and push either of these films into the kind of platform release that has made Jon Favreau's Chef a nice little hit this summer (it currently stands at $22 million).
Are there not enough fans of Once and Captain America to sell these films too? Let's get on this, Harvey. Meanwhile, the limited effort of Magnolia Pictures still saw $140,000 for Life Itself, Steve James' wonderful documentary on the life and passing of Roger Ebert. Shameful that it was upstaged in viewership by Dinesh D'Souza's eviscerated right-wing documentary America, which has made $4 million since Wednesday. Maybe Magnolia and others can start releasing the numbers generated by their On Demand strategy. It would be nice to see that people got to see a great and true American story on this of all weekends, or had the chance to see it at 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]
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