Box Office Report: 'Pirates’ Sails Through International Waters While ‘Baywatch’ Is Beached

May 29, 2017 Comments (0)

Here's your estimated 3-day box office returns (new releases bolded):

1. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales - $77.0 million ($77.0 million total)

2. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - $25.1 million ($338.4 million total)

3. Baywatch - $23.0 million ($23.0 million total)

4. Alien: Covenant - $13.1 million ($59.9 million total)

5. Everything Everything - $7.3 million ($22.7 million total)

6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul - $5.8 million ($14.9 million total)

7. Snatched - $4.8 million ($41.1 million total)

8. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword - $4.1 million ($34.8 million total)

9. The Boss Baby - $2.3 million ($169.5 million total)

10. Beauty and the Beast - $1.9 million ($500.9 million total)

 

The Big Stories

Memorial Day weekend used to be one of the biggest friends to Hollywood. Kids are getting out plus an extra day off for adults. The summer box office used to kick off here. Over the last two years though it has been one of the few thorns in the side of current box office juggernaut, Walt Disney. Last year, Alice Through the Looking Glass bombed over this weekend and the year before Brad Bird’s anticipated, if mysterious, Tomorrowland, failed to connect with audiences. Since the diminishing returns on the reportedly “final adventure” of the Pirates of the Caribbean will likely be saved in international waters, it may turn out to be Paramount that will be hating on this holiday that was supposed to help save them from a year full of flops.

 

Yo Ho Yo Ho Four Billion Bucks For Thee

The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise reached four billion dollars across the globe thanks to a $285 million weekend. The second and fourth films made a cool billion each and the expectations that number five should be in store for at least $750 million worldwide are well founded. Once again, though, that total will be with little thanks to the overall ticket sales in North America. Charting the path of the sequels after the breakout success of The Curse of the Black Pearl, we saw Dead Man’s Chest jump to a $135.6 million opening weekend; the highest July opening at the time (and still fourth all-time.) At World’s End dropped to a $114.7 million opening (and was also nearly three hours long.) When Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney decided to expand the trilogy into further adventures for Jack Sparrow, Rob Marshall’s On Stranger Tides still managed a $90.1 million start. Those were all over three-day weekends.

Dead Men Tell No Tales only managed a $77 million start. Still, that just misses the top ten all-time Memorial Day weekend openings. (At World’s End is still #1 with $139.8 million.) What should give Disney a bit of pause over that start is that last year’s X-Men: Apocalypse rests in the ten slot (after a $79.8 million holiday) and only managed to come away with $155 million domestically. What should give them hope is that even that best-forgotten entry managed to break into the black thanks to its international earnings.

The budget on Pirates 5 is a bit higher ($230 million vs. $178 million) which means it is going to need close to the vicinity of $700 million just to break even. As mentioned earlier this does not appear to be an issue. On Stranger Tides grossed over $800 million internationally alone. The multiples for the last two Pirates films are a respectable 2.69 and 2.67 (for huge openers like those) and if that’s the case it is headed for about $180 million domestic. Seeing as how the international numbers have jumped up with every film, it seems unlikely it will fall below the $642 million earned overseas by Dead Man’s Chest. So far it has grossed an additional $208 million and should ease Disney’s holiday headache.

 

Paramount Afraid To Step Into the Light

Wouldn’t you if you had an 18-month stretch like Paramount has had? Oscar nominations for Arrival and Fences aside, this is a box office column and nobody has been having as tough a go of it as the Mountain has. Focusing just on 2017 at the moment, they should at least be saved the embarrassment of xXx: The Return of Xander Cage being included amongst their flops. Sure the $44.8 million domestic doesn’t look good, but add $301 million overseas and you have a hit. In fact, it is their biggest estimated success since 2015’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation; bigger than Daddy’s Home, 10 Cloverfield Lane and Arrival. The success of those last three combined, though, couldn’t cover the losses of either Star Trek Beyond or Ben-Hur and not even close to the disasters of Monster Trucks and Ghost in the Shell.

That is where Baywatch was supposed to come in.

With a minimalist $69 million budget and the growing star power of Dwayne Johnson, this is a film that should have come close to doubling that budget at home and then get the remainder of its costs covered overseas. If it was any good. Don’t take my word for it though. 19% at Rotten Tomatoes makes it one of the worst-reviewed films of the year and so far the worst of the summer season. This didn’t sit well with Mr. Johnson, who took to Twitter to denounce the “glaring disconnect” between fans and critics who “showed up with their knives ready.” Funny, but that didn’t seem to be the case with the Jump Street fims, which got scores of 85% & 84%. Critics don’t mind television adaptations when they are good and funny. They do when they are not (see: CHiPs – 16%.) Johnson even touted the “B+” Cinemascore the film received, so let’s test the significance of that.

Taking out films such as The Other Guys and Be Cool, how has the Dwayne Johnson resume fared with audiences given the Cinemascore survey.

“A” (The Fate of the Furious, Moana, Furious 7, Fast & Furious 6, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Fast Five, The Game Plan, Gridiron Gang)

“A-“ (Central Intelligence, San Andreas, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Tooth Fairy, The Rundown)

“B+” (Hercules, Race to Witch Mountain, Get Smart, Walking Tall)

“B” (Snitch, The Scorpion King)

“B-“ (Doom)

“C+” (Pain & Gain, Faster)

That is 13 films with an “A-“ or higher and 9 films with a “B+” or below. So Rock, can we at least agree that even “fans” with a small inkling of critical opinion have placed Baywatch in the bottom 41% of your resume? If you want a little more of that “glaring disconnect” between critics and fans, here is a sample of some of the films getting a “B+” combined with a Rotten Tomatoes score between 15-19%:

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Obsessed, Underworld: Blood Wars, Thunderbirds, Firewall, The Huntsman: Winter's War, Monster-in-Law, The Wedding Planner, XXX: State of the Union, Underworld: Evolution, The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, Garfield: The Movie, A Good Day to Die Hard, White Chicks

Welcome to the club, Baywatch. But I did mention this was a box office column, right? Plus how long can we really stay mad at Mr. Johnson? He’s in a terrible movie. We move on to his Presidential bid with Tom Hanks in 2020. Paramount, on the other hand, only have one other film this summer and that is Transformers: The Last Knight. That is likely to follow a similar path wih Pirates 5, so a little money will be coming back to the studio, but likely not with Baywatch. Films with a “B+” since 2001 to open between $18-19 million (based on the 3-day numbers) have an average multiple of 3.59. Take out highest and lowest scores and it’s still 3.09. That can still put Baywatch between $66-70 million; more Hercules than Central Intelligence. Can it find roughly another $135 million overseas? (It’s up to just $873,000 so far.) Gonna depend heavily on those fans listening to other fans who may just not be fans of this one.

 

Tales of the Top Ten

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 shows no signs of letting that top summer slot go. As I said weeks ago, no film is going to top it this summer. Not only has it surpassed the original’s gross and jumped over last week’s winner, Alien: Covenant, as expected, but in its fourth weekend also bested Baywatch. Admittedly with a little help from the Monday holiday. Last week I said it needed over a $23 million four-day weekend to maintain it’s $400+ million pace and it made $25 million. Whether it can make $34 million over the next two weekends will further determine its pace, but with it approaching $800 million worldwide, a billion dollars is going to come sooner than later. In related Disney news, Beauty and the Beast crossed the $500 million mark at the domestic box office this weekend

Last week’s marginal victor, Alien: Covenant, showed just how marginal it was in weekend two. Dropping nearly 71% over the weekend – even boosted by a holiday – means it is falling faster than even Prometheus (which dropped 59.4%.) $100 million in the U.S. is already off the table and now one has to wonder if it can even pass the 1979 & 1986 grosses of, arguably, the only good films in this franchise with $80 & $85 million. Covenant still has roughly $130 million to go before breaking even. Between that, Snatched and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, this is not how Fox wanted to begin its summer after the dual successes of Logan and The Boss Baby; the latter of which just had a sequel greenlit. It will be up to Captain Underpants next week and the warring Apes in July to help even out the season for the studio.

The good news for Warner Bros. is that Everything, Everything is looking like a winner for them. A nice hold gives the film over $25 million and on just a $10 million budget it looks headed for a minor victory. The bad news is that they are still reminded at just what a failure King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is. If you add up the profits this year for The Lego Batman Movie, Kong: Skull Island and, yes, even Zach Braff’s Going in Style that only covers roughly 21% of the losses on King Arthur. Add in the profits from last year’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and there is still roughly 11% of the loss unaccounted for. And that doesn’t even include losses on Fist Fight, CHiPs, and Unforgettable. If ever they needed some good press and even better word-of-mouth for Wonder Woman next week, it’s now. No wonder they moved up the embargo.


- Erik Childress can be heard each week evaluating box office on WGN Radio with Nick Digilio as well as on Business First AM with Angela Miles and his Movie Madness Podcast.

[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]

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