Box Office Report: ‘Wonder Woman’ Puts a Stop to the Dark Universe at the Box Office

Box Office Report: ‘Wonder Woman’ Puts a Stop to the Dark Universe at the Box Office

Jun 12, 2017

Here's your estimated 3-day box office returns (new releases bolded):

1. Wonder Woman - $57.1 million ($205.0 million total)

2. The Mummy - $32.2 million ($32.2 million total)

3. Captain Underpants - $12.3 million ($44.5 million total)

4. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales - $10.7 million ($135.8 million total)

5. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - $6.2 million ($366.3 million total)

6. It Comes At Night - $6.0 million ($6.0 million total)

7. Baywatch - $4.6 million ($51.0 million total)

8. Megan Leavey - $3.7 million ($3.7 million total)

9. Alien: Covenant - $1.8 million ($71.2 million total)

10. Everything Everything - $1.6 million ($31.7 million total)


The Big Stories

Universal hit a bit of a speed bump in launching their "Dark Universe" series, with The Mummy hoping to be the first of many films that reboot their library of classic monsters. Wonder Woman proved to be too big a match for Tom Cruise, even if the star did have one of his best international openings ever. Here in the United States, however, it was a different story...


Dark Universe Indeed

It should be noted that Universal has had a heck of a 2017 so far. While The Fate of the Furious is by far their most profitable (with $1.23 billion worldwide) they had solid profits for both Fifty Shades Darker and A Dog’s Purpose. Then you had the Blumhouse double bill of the resurgence of M. Night Shyamalan with Split and Jordan Peele’s debut phenomenon, Get Out. Their only real stumble this year was The Great Wall, which may have done over six times the business internationally as domestically but remains one of the biggest losers of the year. Still, five unquestionable moneymakers vs. a single flop is none too shabby.

But now they have The Mummy.

This is a bigger deal since this is not just a one-off premise. Alex Kurtzman’s film was the launching pad to a Marvel/DC-like franchise designed to capitalize on a roving gallery of Universal’s classic monsters. Bride of Frankenstein is next in 2019 and there are plans for The Invisible Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Phantom of the Opera – not to mention more Dracula and Wolfman. Remember Joe Johnston’s attempt at that in 2010? The film that actually SHOULD have launched Dark Universe in style and concept? It cost $150 million and opened to $31.4 million. Kurtzman’s Mummy reportedly cost $125 million and opened to just $32.2 million. That is far lower than either of the Stephen Sommers Mummy reboots in 1999 ($43.3 million) and 2001’s The Mummy Returns ($68.1 million.) It is even less than the practically forgotten third film, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor ($40.4 million) and even the spinoff, The Scorpion King ($36 million.)

Basically there is no good news domestically for The Mummy. When Alien Covenant opened to $36.1 million just a few weeks ago, it dropped 70.6% over the next three-day weekend. Not only did that include an off-day on Monday, but critics generally supported that film with a 71% approval. The Mummy is at 17%. That’s lower than Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur film (28%) and even lower than Baywatch which got itself out of the teens and up to a balmy 20%. All the other notable wide and limited releases this weekend are over 70% at Rotten Tomatoes so this is hardly just some cranky critical corps. But in a world where the establishment blames the press for reporting on their faults is becoming the norm, expect to hear this talk ramp up a bit since The Mummy has virtually no chance of grossing $100 million in the U.S.

So what will it take to give Universal less pause about moving forward on this experiment?

About the best news to offer them on the domestic front is that in the 21st century, no film with a  “B-“ Cinemascore and a Rotten Tomatoes score between 15-19% opened better than The Mummy. So congratulations on besting – wait for it – The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen ($23.07 million.) Other films in this category include:

CHiPs, Cop Out, Doom, Dude Where's My Car?, Georgia Rule, Hannibal Rising, Keeping Up with the Joneses, The Last Witch Hunter, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Tyler Perry's Temptation

That’s just a little taste, too. The average multiple of the 19 films under those parameters is a pathetic 2.48 but would at least give The Mummy a run of about $80 million. With 12 of those 19 films actually coming up lower than that 2.48 average, the under may be a good bet here. If we grant Kurtzman’s film a final tally of $68 million domestic it is still going to need at least over $306 million internationally to break even and that is a very conservative estimate. At least one report suggests the bottom line on the film with P&A is between $335-370 million, which would give credence to the assumption that the actual production budget was more in the $190 million range. Even if we were to take the best case scenario from those numbers, that would mean The Mummy would have to tally over $600 million internationally to break even for the Dark Universe. Only Cruise’s last two Mission: Impossible films managed to accomplish that feat. So far, The Mummy has taken in an additional $141.8 million outside the U.S.



It Comes For Those Who Give Bad Grades

Trey Edward Shults’ masterful It Comes At Night is just the second film in A24’s illustrious tenure to be launched into over 2,000 screens on its opening weekend. Their first was The Witch. That film had over a year of buzz built from its debut at Sundance and started with $8.8 million. It Comes At Night played nowhere aside from The Overlook Film Festival and that was after the studio already confidently moved the film up from August into June. Now audiences may not be responding to it with an idiotic “D” Cinemascore but that is normally in sync with bad reviews from critics as well.

Of the 22 films to receive a “D” since 1998, 12 of them received lower than 20% approval at Rotten Tomatoes. In fact, It Comes At Night is the best-reviewed film (86%) to receive less than a “C-“ Cinemascore in that time. Who are you going to listen to? The critics who told you to stay away from Baywatch and The Mummy or the people who gave a “D” to other positively-reviewed films like The Pledge, The Last Exorcism, Splice and American Psycho? Regardless, Shults’ film cost $5 million to make and it opened to $6.6 million. That already makes it the 10th highest-grossing film in A24’s existence. It only needs $14.2 million to break the top five, which includes Moonlight, Ex Machina, The Witch, Room and Spring Breakers. The film is in good territory and deserves to be discovered


Tales of the Top Ten

Wonder Woman continues to grip the nation and if it wasn’t as good and The Mummy resembled an actual film there may have actually been a challenge for the number one slot this weekend. Alas, it was a blowout with Wonder Woman dropping just an amazing 44.6% to gross another $57.1 million and pass $200 million in its 10th day of release; the 45th film ever to achieve that goal. But even more impressive is that 44% drop.

Of the other 58 films to open with $90 million or more only 14 of them dropped less than 50% in their second weekend. That includes three Pixar films (Toy Story 3, Inside Out, Finding Dory), two Star Wars (Episodes III & VII), two Harry Potters (Sorcerer’s Stone & Goblet of Fire), two Disney live-action reduxs (Alice in Wonderland, The Jungle Book), two superhero origins (Spider-Man, Iron Man) and then Shrek 2, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 and Jurassic World. Only 6 of the 44 films to hit $200 million in ten days failed to reach $300 million (three Twilights, two Harry Potters and a Man of Steel.) With over $435 million worldwide, this is one film you do not want to bet against right now.

The summer’s biggest film, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, is now down to $71.5 million ahead of the pace of the first volume. That would still put it at $404 million, but it dropped a full $4 million off the pace just this weekend and it could drop as much in weekend seven as well. So $400 million is in jeopardy and it may have stalled on its way to a billion worldwide too. But $828 million is nothing to sneeze at. And if you are curious it is currently $46 million ahead of Wonder Woman in its second weekend. Patti Jenkins’ film would need $34.6 million next weekend just to maintain that pace in case you are thinking it may overtake Guardians as the biggest film of the summer.

Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is almost directly on pace with last year’s X-Men: Apocalypse, which finished with $155.4 million. The only difference is it has already well overtaken its worldwide gross with over $600 million. Though only the first film of the franchise is in its sights to be beaten with its worldwide total of $654 million. At World’s End made $963.4 million total. The film should hit profit once it reaches $700 million.

Cars 3 is likely to take the #1 slot next weekend from Wonder Woman, which will also be bad news for Fox’s Captain Underpants. Lop another 50% off its $12.3 million gross this weekend means the film is headed for somewhere south of $70 million. The good news is it would only need around $40-50 million overseas to give Fox its first hit of the summer. Cause it certainly is not going to be Alien: Covenant, which still needs another $112 million for it to break even. That is slightly better than Paramount’s Baywatch at the moment (which still needs $120 million.) Though they should swap positions on the loser scale shortly, there is no getting around what a major failure this is for a studio that really needed a hit and will now be dependent on Transformers: The Last Knight to deliver to save their year.

Finally, A24 was not the only indie studio to go wide this weekend. Bleecker Street took a shot for the first time with Megan Leavey in 1,952 theaters. (Their previous biggest launch was the overlooked WWII thriller, Anthropoid, in 452 theaters.) Megan Leavey’s $3.4 million launch is already higher than Anthropoid’s entire run at $2.9 million but the studio may get discouraged if it fails to reach the height of platformed releases like Eye in the Sky ($18.7 million), The Lost City of Z ($8.4 million), Trumbo ($7.8 million) and I’ll See You In My Dreams ($7.4 million.) Hopefully they will not be. After all, it takes a wide release to get a Cinemascore, and though as we can see with It Comes At Night they are not always right, the “A” they received for Megan Leavey should be encouraging. It is only the third film this summer to receive such a grade with the other two being Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Wonder Woman

- Erik Childress can be heard each week evaluating box office on WGN Radio with Nick Digilio as well as on Business First AM with Angela Miles and his Movie Madness Podcast.

[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]


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