Here are your three-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Furious Six - $98.5 million
2. The Hangover Part III - $42.4 million
3. Star Trek Into Darkness - $38.0 million
4. Epic - $34.2 million
5. Iron Man 3 - $19.4 million
6. The Great Gatsby - $13.7 million
7. Mud - $1.9 million
8. 42 - $1.24 million
9. The Croods - $1.21 million
10. Oblivion - $0.8 million
The Big Stories
After Star Trek Into Darkness failed to hit the magical nine digits over the course of its first weekend, pundits can rest easy that they got one right this time. Universal kicked off its summer in expected glorious fashion as the sixth installment of its Fast & Furious series (did you ever imagine you would hear that phrase back in 2001?) and is estimated to clear around $122 million over the holiday. Even without the extra day boost, the film is still well ahead of chapter five of Toretto, O'Connor and "Family" and smoked some rather hefty competition en route to a record-breaking Memorial Day weekend.
Furious Six (Plus That Rock Guy and Carano Gal)
Let's call the film what it is. After all that's how the title reads (without the parentheses) as the film opens. While I cannot give full respect to the films themselves, the numbers are still rather impressive for a series that was basically Season of the Witch-ing itself with Tokyo Drift. That film made $62 million in the summer of 2006 after the previous two grossed $144 and $127 million, respectively. It is the only film in the franchise to gross under $100 and to open with less than a $40 million weekend. I don't get it. Then again, I didn't get the success of The Hangover either, which we'll get to momentarily. In terms of all-time Memorial Day weekends, here is where Furious Six ranks:
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), Furious Six ($122.1), The Hangover Part II ($103.4), The Lost World: Jurassic Park ($90.1), The Day After Tomorrow ($85.8), Bruce Almighty ($85.7), Pearl Harbor ($75.1), Mission: Impossible II ($70.8)
How far can the film go from there? The average post-Memorial weekend drop of the other nine films in that top 10 was 56.42%. For the four films that opened over $100 it was 61.8%. That's about in line with the franchise average as entries two through five decline 63%, 59.1%, 61.6% and 62.4% respectively. In weekend two, that would put Furious Six somewhere between $37-40 million as it tussles off against the new M. Night Shyamalan (After Earth) and robber magicians (Now You See Me). That should put it somewhere between $181-187 million by next weekend and will easily top Fast Five's $209 million from 2011.
Hangover and a Drunk America
Meanwhile, The Hangover series got its few remaining sheep to cough up money on the worst trilogy in movie history (at least until The Human Centipede 3 is complete.) Save the comments on how you liked the first one. It was a direct-to-video (at best) piece of garbage and deep down you knew it to be true when you hated the sequel. Well, here we are at the "epic finale." The reviews are worse than ever and, despite how hearty the numbers look this weekend, the box office for the series even moreso. What once was a little $35 million comedy that grossed $467 million worldwide to become the biggest R-rated comedy of all time (at least until Ted came along) has seen its budget expand over the years. Part II cost $80 million and grossed $586 million worldwide. Part III's cost is now up to $103 million and even those who still cling to the original as some modern comedy classic should be asking the question - "for what?"
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End ($139.8 million), X-Men: The Last Stand ($122.8), Men In Black 3 ($69.2), The Hangover Part III ($42.4), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade ($37.0), Return of the Jedi ($30.4), Back to the Future Part III ($23.7), Alien 3 ($23.1), Rambo III ($16.7), Rocky III ($16.0), Beverly Hills Cop III ($15.2)
Look at all those iconic series in there. They are the third chapters that opened over the Memorial Day holiday. Ticket costs and inflation, notwithstanding, there is no earthly reason that a Hangover film should make more money on a list than any of those titles, even the ones that suck really hard like Alien 3 and Beverly Hills Cop III. The good news is that all signs point The Hangover Part III grossing about half of what the first sequel did. If it follows the horrible word of mouth it should be down to about $15 million and just maybe squeaking over the $90 million mark next weekend. Then it will lose about another half of its audience when The Internship shows up the week after. All in all the ceiling for the film is probably about $125 million; a scale down from the $277 and $254 million domestic tally. The good news for Warner Bros. is that it will still have a minor hit on its hands even with that ridiculous budget. Unless the international sheep fail to show up. Good riddance, Hangover.
The True Epic of the Weekend
Really in name only. Despite both Pete Hammond and Kylie Erica Mar of Made in Hollywood describing Fox's new animated film as just that. (Cindy Pearlman did the same for The Hangover Part III.) But Epic is just that - the name of the movie. For some reason analysts and box office gamers were really underestimating the potential of this one. With starry eyes ahead for Monsters University and Despicable Me 2, Epic was unlikely destined to reach the potential of either of those, but potential there certainly was for this to be an early summer family hit. Did anyone expect Fox's The Croods (still in the top 10) to be the second biggest film of 2013 to date, besting even Disney's Oz the Great and Powerful internationally? Maybe it was because there were no other family films in its way for two months until Epic came along. So it is this holiday, rising above even Hangover. To update the list we showed last week on family-oriented openings over this four-day weekend, how does Epic rank?
Shrek 2 ($95.5 million/second week), Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian ($70.0), Shrek the Third ($67.0/second week), Madagascar ($61.0), Kung Fu Panda 2 ($60.8), Shrek Forever After ($57.0/second week), Shrek ($55.2/second week), Epic ($44.0) Over the Hedge ($35.3/second week), Dinosaur ($32.0/ second week), The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian ($29.8/ second week)
So not the most impressive of starts. OK so it is the third best animated opener over the holiday but its real strength will be in the coming weeks as it faces no direct competition until Pixar's sequel in another four weeks. The Croods opened to $43.6 million in March. Epic's three-day is around $34 million. If it follows the trajectory of Fox's first big family success this year, it should have about $128 million in the domestic bank by the time Monsters University opens on June 21. Kids will be getting out of school too so those midweek numbers should be at least comparable to The Croods and anywhere from $150-160 million is very reachable.
Summer Blockbuster Update
Iron Man 3 is up to $372 million domestically and $1.142 billion worldwide making it the fifth highest grossing film in global history. It will need another $202 million to take the number-four slot from the final Harry Potter film. The Great Gatsby is up to over $114 million in the U.S. Warner Bros. still needs about another $100 million globally for the film to end up in the black, but it is going to chalk this one up as a win, however minor.
Star Trek Into Darkness, aided in part by the holiday, is now back on pace with the 2009 film. By that film's 12th day it had $155 million in the domestic coffer. With the holiday Monday, Darkness should have about that. $38 million this weekend is a 45.8% drop compared to a 42.8% drop three years ago. Not terrible. This is likely to fall back again over the coming weeks, but if it continues such a course it is still headed for between $230-240 million. Hardly a disaster, but Paramount will continue to look for its profits in the DVD market on this one. Thankfully the studio took home a hefty paycheck from Disney and Marvel on Iron Man 3.
Meanwhile the best film of the year, Richard Linklater's Before Midnight (as well as Ethan Hawke's and Julie Delpy's), grossed $273,944 on only five screens this weekend. Other limited best-of-the-year releases to get out to see include Sarah Polley's documentary Stories We Tell ($229,537 to date) and Jeff Nichols' Mud ($14.5 million). If you saw The Hangover Part III before any of these films, we will never forget.
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]