Here are your estimated four-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. X-Men: Days of Future Past - $111.0 million ($111.0 million total)
2. Godzilla - $39.4 million ($156.7 million total)
3. Blended - $18.1 million ($18.1 million total)
4. Neighbors - $17.2 million ($116.9 million total)
5. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - $10.0 million ($187.1 million total)
6. Million Dollar Arm - $8.7 million ($22.2 million total)
7. The Other Woman - $4.5 million ($78.4 million total)
8. Rio 2 - $3.2 million ($122.3 million total)
9. Chef - $2.9 million ($4.2 million total)
10. Heaven Is for Real - $2.7 million ($86.5 million total)
The Big Stories
It's hard to imagine how a film that has grossed over $675 million worldwide could look so bad on the homefront, but that's what other films have been doing to The Amazing Spider-Man 2 since it kicked off summer on May 2. First, it was dropped from its number one perch by Seth Rogen and the Neighbors crew. Then another Godzilla film came along and outdid Spidey's opening weekend. Now a franchise that had been seeing its grosses make a steady dip since Brett Ratner and Gavin Hood drove away anyone but the true fans is going back to where it left off when Bryan Singer left the franchise to help ruin other classic stories. What's past is past, though, and the present currently has arguably the best X-Men film to date making The Amazing Spider-Man 2 look bad all over again.
A Future Saved
When the reports started circulating that X-Men: Days of Future Past was the second most expensive film in the history of Fox studios (behind Avatar) it seemed like they were being set up for another big Bryan Singer loser. After all, this is the director responsible for one of 2013's biggest bombs (Jack the Giant Slayer) and let Superman Returns' budget balloon to $270 million. That reboot only grossed $391 million of the roughly $580 million it needed to break even. Depending on whom you believe, Future Past's budget is anywhere between $200-237 million, either way, cheaper than Sony's The Amazing Spider-Man 2. And the $460-$535 million it will need to break even may not come as easy as it has seemed for that other Marvel production this summer.
X-Men worldwide grosses
X-Men (2001) - $296.3 million
X2: X-Men United (2003) - $407.7 million
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) - $459.3 million
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) - $373.0 million
X-Men: First Class (2011) - $353.6 million
The Wolverine (2013) - $414.8 million
Half a billion dollars is a number that has eluded the X-Men franchise but $111 million over four days is certainly a good start. It's $91.4 million over the weekend was the fourth best three-day weekend of the year (just behind Amazing Spider-Man 2), but how does it stack up to other full Memorial Day weekend openings:
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End ($139.8 million), Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($126.9), X-Men: The Last Stand ($122.8), Fast & Furious 6 ($117.0), X-Men: Days of Future Past ($111.0), The Hangover Part III ($103.4), The Lost World: Jurassic Park ($90.1), The Day After Tomorrow ($85.8), Bruce Almighty ($85.7), Pearl Harbor ($75.1)
As hard as it is to believe, Brett Ratner's film still ranks as the highest grossing X-Men film (both U.S. and worldwide.) Not the most profitable, as it had trouble overcoming its own $210 million budget (roughly $246 million with inflation) but it remains the point of reference we should look at when considering Days' chances. With a $122.8 million four-day start, the 2006 film dipped to just $34 million in week two for $175.3 million in 10 days. (It was beaten by Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston's The Break-Up.) Future Past's competition next week includes Disney's Maleficent and Seth MacFarlane's A Million Ways to Die in the West. X-Men is one of the best reviewed films of the year and the word of mouth is certain to be much better than either ASM2 or Godzilla, so anything over $40 million next weekend should be considered a victory. Anything less and it is probably headed for a final U.S. tally between X2's $214.9 million and The Last Stand's $234.3 million. The good news for Fox is that while the X-Men series has lost popularity here over the years it has started to climb again outside the U.S.
X-Men Grosses (Overseas)
X-Men (2001) - $139.0 million
X2: X-Men United (2003) - $192.7 million
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) - $224.9 million
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) - $193.1 million
X-Men: First Class (2011) - $207.2 million
The Wolverine (2013) - $282.2 million
Days of Future Past is going to need last year's Wolverine numbers overseas to help propel this film into profit. A kickoff of $171 million overseas is major. While Fox has had a pretty good year so far, aside from their involvement with Mr. Peabody & Sherman, they are not going to relax on X-Men until after next weekend to be clear this isn't another Bryan Singer disappointment in the financial department. As for the film itself, well done. But I wouldn't be planning any special, invitation-only parties anytime soon.
Is the Adam Sandler Thing Finally Dying?
We know the whole deal in Hollywood that when the grosses start to go down on a movie star's career, jump aboard a sequel. That's what Adam Sandler did last summer with the lazy travesty that was Grown Ups 2. It was his first live-action film to gross over $100 million in nearly two-and-a-half years at which point a streak of 10 straight "Adam Sandler comedies" hit that precise feat going back to 2002's Mr. Deeds. (No Funny People or Punch-Drunk Love or Spanglish, you know the good ones, included.) That's a remarkable number for any movie star, especially one so critically lambasted and for good reason. The last "Sandler film" to garner over 25% at Rotten Tomatoes was 2008's You Don't Mess with the Zohan.
The year 1998's The Wedding Singer was Sandler's most bona fide hit at the time, riding the discovered appreciation for Happy Gilmore. That pairing with Drew Barrymore grossed over $80 million and it gave rise to The Waterboy's $161 million later that year and Big Daddy's $163 million the summer after. A star was born. Especially during the summer. In the new century, Sandler's summer movies have practically been a guaranteed grosser:
Grown Ups ($162.0 million), The Longest Yard ($158.1), Click ($137.3), Grown Ups 2 ($133.6), Mr. Deeds ($126.2), I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry ($120.0), You Don't Mess with the Zohan ($100.0)
But that changed in 2012 when Sandler went the R-rated route with his fans in That's My Boy and only grossed $36.9 million in the U.S. on a $70 million budget. Between that and the $79 million budgeted Jack and Jill (which grossed $74.1 million in the U.S.) and you can cue not just Grown Ups 2 but another reunion with Drew Barrymore. Their 50 First Dates opened on Valentine's Day weekend in 2004 and grossed over $120 million. Their Blended just opened on Memorial Day weekend and its four-day gross is not going to match The Wedding Singer's three-day gross from 16 years ago. Some are quick to throw the "B" word out at Sandler, but let's not forget the potential overseas grosses.
Grown Ups 2 ($113.3), Just Go with It ($111.9), Grown Ups ($109.4), Bedtime Stories ($102.7), Click ($100.3), You Don't Mess with the Zohan ($99.9), 50 First Dates ($75.57), Jack and Jill ($75.51), Big Daddy ($71.3), I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry ($66.0), Anger Management ($60.1), Mr. Deeds ($44.9), The Wedding Singer ($43.0), The Longest Yard ($32.2), The Waterboy ($24.5), That's My Boy ($20.7), Little Nicky ($18.8)
The good news for Warner Bros. is that the $40 million budget on Blended is the lowest "Sandler comedy" budget since 1999's Big Daddy at $34 million. That would make it more of a disappointment than some giant loser we'll be referring back to at the end of the year. Sandler has had bigger bombs, but it seems that Americans have finally caught up to the fact the one-time box office star has been taking "paid vacations" (his words) on their dime all these years. And unless a Grown Ups 3 is instantly green lit there may be no bailout anytime soon for him.
Tales of the Top 10
Jon Favreau's Chef expanded to almost 500 theaters this weekend and snuck into the bottom of a very dwindling top 10 for a minor victory. Heaven Is for Real is going to gross over $90 million and The Other Woman is going to come very close to that. (Maybe Adam Sandler should look to team up with Cameron Diaz next, so ration your cyanide carefully.) Much is being made about the respectable drop for Disney's Million Dollar Arm. Word of mouth is very decent on the PG-rated sports drama but it's still going to need at least another $56 million to be in profit. More than half of that will have to be overseas.
In the U.S., Universal's Neighbors continues to do great business. It is up there with Captain America, The Lego Movie and Rio 2 as one of the biggest successes of 2014. Warner Bros. has already green lit a sequel to Godzilla after its massive opening last week. But after its massive drop in week two (which the studio should have expected) in the U.S. it may want to.... oh who are we kidding? The film is a major hit overseas (as Universal expected) and a 66% drop stateside should not deter the studio from having another go at it even if it is still waiting for about another $60 million to come in on the first one to start seeing returns in the black.
Sony's The Amazing Spider-Man 2, on the other hand, is tempting fate with becoming the first film to open with over $88 million and not hit $200 million in the U.S. It will likely still just squeak over the line, but as I have said all along it is going to take something really special to bring the people back for part three. Because $200 million for that is unlikely to happen unless they give Spider-Man his own "vs." movie. I hear Ant-Man might be available now.
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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