Here are your three-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Iron Man 3 - $72.4 million
2. The Great Gatsby - $51.1 million
3. Pain & Gain - $5.0 million
4. Peeples - $4.8 million
5. 42 - $4.6 million
6. Oblivion - $3.8 million
7. The Croods - $3.6 million
8. The Big Wedding - $2.5 million
9. Mud - $2.1 million
10 . Oz the Great and Powerful - $0.8 million
The Big Stories
Raise your hand if you saw The Great Gatsby being such a great success this weekend. Now raise your other hand if you are a liar. Put all your hands down and stroke your chin, old sports. Where did this come from? Was there a run on book clubs across the country? Did every high school get assigned the same book report? And if so, how many of them are destined for F's after seeing this adaptation? Was it a chance for everyone to get those flapper costumes they've been saving since Halloween a little more mileage? Or did women look at the movie schedule and think, this might be one of our only chances to see a movie this summer? So suit up, ladies.
"How Would You Characterize The Great Gatsby?"
The story that literalizes the metaphor of the rich running over the poor, the $105-$200 million-budgeted film (depending on who you believe) was a major question mark for Warner Bros. over what is speculated to be a very up-and-down summer for the moviemakers. A $52 million opening in the U.S. allows a few beads of sweat to be wiped from their brows and are likely so relieved they do not care where it came from. Still won't stop us from considering though. The first obvious answer is ladies flocked out to see box office draw Leonardo DiCaprio. Good guess, but just how big of a draw is he?
Inception ($62.7 million), The Great Gatsby ($51.1), Shutter Island ($41.0), Catch Me If You Can ($30.0), Titanic ($28.6), The Departed ($26.8), The Man in the Iron Mask ($17.2), The Beach ($15.2), Body of Lies ($12.8), J. Edgar ($11.2)
Clearly there is more interest in Leo playing a dashing, rich playboy in a fantasy than a controversial closeted lawman from reality. The list doesn't count his supporting role in Django Unchained, which opened to the tune of $30.1 million at the time Gatsby was originally set to open. Look at the top of that list, though, with its high concepts and A-list directors (Nolan, Scorsese, Spielberg, Cameron). Baz Luhrmann is an attention grabber but by no means A-list. Other than his movies usually stinking, how do we know that?
Moulin Rouge! ($57.3 million), Australia ($49.5), Romeo + Juliet ($46.3), Strictly Ballroom ($11.7)
Those are the final grosses for his previous features and now he has a film that outdid nearly all of them in a single weekend.
What About That Summer Schedule Again?
If The Great Gatsby is being made out to be this year's Magic Mike -- you know, the story of how women throw away money on an empty fantasy -- Luhrmann's film would be in line to do about $148 million, which is higher than any of DiCaprio's collaborations with Scorsese. A "B" Cinemascore provides a wide array of possibilities and cannot be accurately speculated upon. Consider what the alternatives are for ladies though. There aren't any.
The next six weeks at the box office are primarily male and family centric, giving Gatsby the opportunity to simply coast on female attendance even if word of mouth is middling. Underestimating that demographic in regards to this film was the mistake. We shall see if guesstimators make the same mistake twice when The Heat opens on June 28. You have Sandra Bullock (in nearly the same slot where the abysmal The Proposal cleaned up $163 million in '09) teamed with the post-Bridesmaids Melissa McCarthy (who helped the abysmal Identity Thief generate over $133 million) from the director of Bridesmaids. Fox is going to be promo screening the hell out of it in the weeks up to its release. Do not be shocked when it rolls over the macho combo of impending bomb World War Z and (didn't-we-already-see-that?) White House Down, even if they do star Brad Pitt and empty fantasy Channing Tatum.
How's That Whole Iron Man Thing Doing?
The over/under on Iron Man 3 to get a more accurate reading of its overall potential was $72 million. It grossed $72.4. That's right on average with the films opening to over $150 million or more in their first weekend. The percentage drop from Monday to Thursday was a couple points higher than the first two films and The Avengers. With $284 million in the domestic bank, its march to $400 continues next week as we see just how much of an effect Star Trek Into Darkness has on its business. (It started with almost $32 million internationally; approximately 25% of what the 2009 film did outside the U.S.) Somewhere between $330-340 for Iron Man 3 by next Sunday is realistic, just about confirming it will be the biggest hit of the summer. How can one argue with the billion dollars it will be at worldwide in just a few days?
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]