Here are your three-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Godzilla - $93.2 million ($93.2 million total)
2. Neighbors - $25.9 million ($91.5 million total)
3. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - $16.8 million ($172.1 million total)
4. Million Dollar Arm - $10.5 million ($10.5 million total)
5. The Other Woman - $6.3 million ($71.6 million total)
6. Heaven Is for Real - $4.4 million ($82.2 million total)
7. Rio 2 - $3.8 million ($118.0 million total)
8. Captain America: The Winter Soldier - $3.7 million ($250.6 million total)
9. Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return - $1.95 million ($6.5 million total)
10. Mom's Night Out - $1.90 million ($7.3 million total)
The Big Stories
A 60-year-old franchise grossed nearly as much as sequels to a pair of major Marvel franchises this year. The impressive nature of this should not be overlooked. Evidently whatever sting that still existed from Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin's 1998 summer travesty subsided the minute the trailers to Gareth Edwards' new Godzilla take teased something extraordinary. Just how extraordinary is what audiences can decide for themselves in weeks to come, but this is a major win not just for the summer and for Warner Bros. but Hollywood marketing in general. Godzilla's opening was such a success that Deadline reports a sequel is officially in the works. Gareth Edwards is expected to return as director.
Godzilla is the third biggest opening of 2014 behind Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The former is days away from becoming the top grosser in the U.S. this year and the latter is going to limp across the $200 million mark after another expected big drop this weekend and a similar one to come when X-Men: Days of Future Past invades Memorial Day. I had doubts this incarnation would reach $200 million this summer, but this kickoff just about insures it. The lowest final gross on a film to open with over $88 million is Fast Five's $209 million, a number that ASM2 may challenge, and perhaps Godzilla could too.
Godzilla registered 73% positivity with critics and a "B+" from those random Cinemascorers (compared to 72% and an "A-" for last summer's Pacific Rim.) How many of them were hard-core vs. casual giant-lizard fans though? The advertising had to have been a great contributor to the film's start. After all, if it wasn't going to give away the money shots or even the full story (which surprised many film critics) let alone fleeting shots of its enormous star, moviegoers just had to show up and see for themselves. Will they be bothered that Godzilla doesn't truly show up until nearly halfway through the film or that Aaron Taylor-Johnson is so transparent a leading man that he might be mistaken for an extra? It may not matter either way.
X-Men is certainly going to dominate over the upcoming holiday weekend and take a chunk of Godzilla's audience with it, but with the U.S. getting the film at least halfway to turning a profit, overseas is truly going to bring it home for Warner Bros. Even Emmerich's boo-worthy treatment grabbed over $242 million of its $379 million outside the U.S. and those were 1998 dollars. (It would be equal to about $551.2 million today.) Pacific Rim grossed over $309 million overseas last year (and that still wasn't enough to get it into the black.) Godzilla should grab at least that and its going to need every penny to help erase the disappointment that was Transcendence, which is currently the biggest bomb of 2014.
Tales of the Top 10
Counterprogramming this week was offered in the form of Disney's Million Dollar Arm, a modestly budgeted underdog tale that isn't going to hurt the studio's bottom line much this year. It will only need about $50 million overseas to break even, which is possible given its international appeal. Neighbors, meanwhile, becomes the biggest hit for Universal this year (budget-to-gross.) With a very respectable drop in its second weekend, the film is likely headed somewhere north of $150 million, which would surpass Knocked Up, Seth Rogen's biggest live-action grosser to date.
The successes of both The Other Woman (over $137 million worldwide) and Rio 2 (now at over $427 million worldwide - compared to the $484 million of the original) have helped Fox get back on track after its association with Mr. Peabody & Sherman. X-Men: Days of Future Past is up next for Fox with the second largest budget in studio history.
Over at Sony, Heaven Is for Real remains the studio's solo hit on the year after posting major losses in all its divisions since last March. Some are saying that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is going to need over $755 million to turn a profit, when that is more the magic number on outgrossing the original. Unless there are some truly hidden numbers busting out the advertising budget the film should already be showing a profit for Sony with $633 million worldwide. Though Captain America looks to remain the top grosser on the year for a bit longer, ASM2 is creeping up as the number one grosser... just nowhere near number one in profit.
- 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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