Here's your weekend box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Brave - $66.7 million
2. Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted - $20.2 million
3. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - $16.5 million
4. Prometheus - $10 million
5. Rock of Ages - $8 million
6. Snow White and the Huntsman - $8 million
7. That's My Boy - $7.9 million
8. Marvel's The Avengers - $7 million
9. Men in Black III - $5.6 million
10. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World - $3.8 million
In the quest for 2012 to be the biggest box office year in history, the month of June has not been its friend. Or so it seems with all the panic over last week's opening of Rock of Ages and That's My Boy, both of which look to be legitimate bombs. 2009's benefit of having a full deposit of Avatar money helped make it number one in the books. The 2010 encore coming up only $30 million short without the biggest moneymaker of all time is in many ways more impressive and by following that mold we can see how 2012 is shaping up to make a run at it. And why June has been a bit of a downer.
Looking strictly at the numbers, we have already had three films crack the $100 million mark with a fourth easily on the way with Brave. Facing the respective tallies of 2010's June releases though, their challengers include Pixar's biggest movie ever (Toy Story 3 - $415 million), Adam Sandler's 2nd best ever by a mere million (Grown Ups - $162 million) plus a finale with the third chapter in the Twilight saga (Eclipse - $300 million). Going week-to-week, 2012 has fallen behind 2010's pace by around $170 million but with Brave just getting started and a couple of comic book heroes on the horizon, everything should be back on track by July.
Getting back to Brave, many are praising Pixar for achieving its 13th straight #1 opening. Is that really a feat worth acknowledging though? Unlike other studios or even actors who reach for different cores, Pixar is a brand name with a history of pleasing audiences. Rack up 11 more Madagascar films and it is reasonable to assume that accomplishment can be matched. A $60-70 million opening weekend is what Pixar does. Eight of those thirteen weekends fall right in-between and Brave's $66.7 million is 5th all-time for them and just ahead of last year's Cars 2, universally considered their weakest effort and their first not to break $200 million since 1998's A Bug's Life. Could Brave be in store for the same fate?
Brave received an "A" from audience-tracking Cinemascore (then again, so did Red Tails) but is second from the bottom of critics' ratings of Pixar films at Rotten Tomatoes. Then there is the slight possibility that it may be challenged for the top spot next week by not one but two "R"-rated films. The 60% drop that Cars 2 faced last year is unlikely and its challengers are clearly for adults, but they are the ones who may be dropping the small ones off at the more kid-friendly than family-pleasing effort from Pixar. Seth MacFarlane's Ted is getting great buzz and could end up being this summer's Horrible Bosses. Meanwhile, the ladies have ignored everything from What To Expect When You're Expecting to Rock of Ages and if anything has the potential to be this year's Sex and the City outing it's the suddenly hot Channing Tatum in Steven Soderbergh's Magic Mike.
Fox is probably already looking ahead to their animated entry into this summer to help save them from a disappointing June. Prometheus has made two straight weekend drops of over 50% and going budget-to-grosses is still about $40 million away from breaking even. In even bigger trouble is this weekend's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. A 3rd place finisher behind a 3rd week Madagascar 3, the Timur Bekmambetov film managed only $16.5 million and a C+ rating from Cinemascore. Unlike the A's & B's that audience toss away as much as their money on films that deserve it, anything given a "C" or below is rare as the only nine films to rank as low in 2012 can attest. Putting it on the audience par with Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and Gone (both given the extra plus over the even lower rated The Dictator and The Cabin in the Woods), no such film has hit the $60 million mark all year. And with its international prospects far from promising, it could be headed for this year's major bombs list; one already populated by five other films this summer (Battleship, Dark Shadows, Rock of Ages, Snow White and the Huntsman and That's My Boy).
On the positive side of the spectrum, Marvel's The Avengers will be hitting the $600 million mark this week and actually crossing Titanic's original mark before adding to it with a 3-D re-release. Madagascar 3's $157 million domestic gross after three weeks (plus another $208 million internationally) has put it into the profit margin. Even more impressive is Sony rebounding from potential disaster with its $225 million budgeted Men In Black 3, which domestically will rank as the lowest grossing in the series. However its international grosses have well exceeded its predecessors with another $414 million which has not only put the film INTO the black (so to speak) but when all is said and done will be the highest grossing in the franchise - if perhaps the least profitable.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]