Here are your three-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Despicable Me 2 - $44.7 million
2. Grown Ups 2 - $42.5 million
3. Pacific Rim - $38.3 million
4. The Heat - $14.0 million
5. The Lone Ranger - $11.1 million
6. Monsters University - $10.6 million
7. World War Z - $9.4 million
8. White House Down - $6.1 million
9. Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain - $5.0 million
10. Man of Steel - $4.8 million
The Big Stories
This week has been an exercise in what to trust when it comes to numbers at the box office. The steadily unreliable science of tracking showed low numbers. Then a few late shows and Fandango sales led some to think those numbers would double. Friday appeared to be a horse race to win the weekend when it turned out to be merely a race to just win Friday. Del Toro fans of both close personal contact and simple lovers of his brand of cinema have been hoping, praying and pleading that people run out to see Pacific Rim, as if the future of his collaboration with big-budget Hollywood depended on it. Any Sunday reports of a mass suicide pact over his idea of what overgrown 10 year olds want to see being ignored over what Adam Sandler believes they do would not be surprising. Hotlines better be prepared to work a little overtime this week.
Hoping for Pacific Dollars
With a $38.3 million beginning here in the U.S., del Toro's robots-vs.-monsters geekfest is going to need those international dollars to help Legendary Pictures pick up the full tab on this one. Estimates putting production cost at about $190 million means $475 is the roundabout number it is looking to snag before it can even hope to start making a profit. Remember The Lone Ranger had just over $30 million made in its first three days (beginning on a Wednesday) and it was already being labeled one of the biggest bombs of the year. Pacific Rim will have about as much as the Ranger's $48.7 million in its first five days. So what are its prospects?
This is the seventh film of 2013 to receive an "A-" Cinemascore rating from audiences. (And is the highest-rated "A-" film from critics at Rotten Tomatoes with 72%.) Aside from Man of Steel the other six titles opened between $24.8 and $40.5 million. Now You See Me, Olympus Has Fallen and G.I. Joe: Retaliation did over three times their opening weekends. The Heat will hit that mark by next weekend and White House Down (from the low end) is going to be close. That could mean around (best case) $120 million in the U.S. It's multiplier might take a hit in its second weekend with four new films opening; all of which (The Conjuring, Red 2, R.I.P.D., Turbo) appeal in some way to its demographic. The average drop of the films in Rim's range this year is 43.7%. Del Toro's openings look as follows:
Pacific Rim ($38.3 million), Hellboy II: The Golden Army ($34.5), Blade II ($32.5), Hellboy ($23.1)
None of del Toro's wide releases have hit the $100 million mark here in the states. Neither have any of them hit that number abroad. The average drop of those films is 61.3%. Warner Bros. and Legendary are going to be hoping for a number somewhere over $18.1 million next weekend. Anything less and del Toro may once again struggle to hit nine digits here. Could there be hope overseas though? The three Transformers films grossed almost $1.6 billion alone internationally. The four Terminator films came out to $884 million. Real Steel's fighting robots nabbed $210 million and Roland Emmerich's Godzilla film in 1998 took in $242.7 million. Conservatively, $360 million is Rim's target overseas and only three films to date this year have taken in that much (Iron Man 3, Fast & Furious 6, The Croods). Another three (Man of Steel, Despicable Me 2 and possibly World War Z which rose to $246 overseas this week) will make a run at that number. The odds are not in Pacific Rim's favor, thus ending Warner Bros.' string of hits this summer.
Grow Up, America
Adam Sandler, huh? He just can't be killed at the box office. He dares to try something new like a drama or even an R-rated version of his garbage comedies and nobody shows up. He dumbs it down to PG-13, opens it in the summer and all of a sudden people flock in droves.
The Longest Yard ($47.6 million), Grown Ups 2 ($42.5), Big Daddy ($41.5), Grown Ups ($40.5), Click ($40.0), You Don't Mess with the Zohan ($38.5), Mr. Deeds ($37.1), I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry ($34.2)
That's Adam Sandler in the summer for you with a PG-13 rating: $34-47 million opening like clockwork. Not one of them grossing less than $100 million. Do you or someone you know not feel bad about this? His last five live-action films (including Grown Ups 2) have a total score of 59% at Rotten Tomatoes. A total of five movies combined cannot be "certified fresh" over there. These eight summer films combined average 24% there. The average multiplier from opening weekend to final gross for them is 3.45. That means word of mouth. That means repeat viewings. That means people taking their kids. That means Grown Ups 2 could end up around $146 million (or nearly $65 million more than what The Lone Ranger is going to gross here.) Even if it succumbs to That's My Boy's numbers (a film it has already outgrossed) it would still be looking at $117 million. For the worst film of the summer and, arguably, of the year. If there is a doctor out there capable of administering a shame implant for Sandler, perhaps he will have enough for the part of America still funding this guy's projects.
Stories of the Top 10
The Lone Ranger, perhaps spurred down by first bad reviews then reports that it was a bomb not worth seeing, dropped 68% in its second weekend. Taking a similar drop path from this year's biggest disaster Jack the Giant Slayer, the Disney film is unlikely to reach $90 million here in the U.S. and the studio is expecting a $160 million loss. That's assuming of course that the film reaches $300 million overseas. (See above for those hopes as its only made $48 so far.) The studio's Monsters University has passed over $400 million worldwide (including $237 in the U.S.) but needs to reach over $500 to be counted in the black. Meanwhile its animated competition Despicable Me 2 has also passed $400 million worldwide, is one of the most profitable films of 2013 and will be outgrossing it in just a few short days on a path to over $300 million domestic and the second highest grossing film of the year, passing Man of Steel which will peak around $290.
The Heat has passed $100 million, giving Fox its first profitable film of the summer on its way to over $130. Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain looks unlikely to match Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip leaving it a still respectable fourth place on the all-time concert-film chart. White House Down will not officially be the biggest bomb of the summer until we see how The Lone Ranger does abroad, but between this and After Earth it has not been a good season for Sony. This Is the End remains its sole hit of the summer and Grown Ups 2 is going to need $50-$75 million overseas to turn a profit on its $80 million budget. (The original did over $109 million.) Looks like Sony will be getting a lot of friends together for future movies instead of name casts in copycat projects as well as fathers and their spoiled children.
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]