Here are your three-day box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Oblivion - $38.1 million
2. 42 - $18.0 million
3. The Croods - $9.5 million
4. Scary Movie 5 - $6.3 million
5. G.I. Joe: Retaliation - $5.8 million
6. The Place Beyond the Pines - $4.7 million
7. Olympus Has Fallen - $4.5 million
8. Evil Dead - $4.1 million
9. Jurassic Park 3D - $4.0 million
10 . Oz the Great and Powerful - $3.0 million
The Big Stories
Tom Cruise and science fiction have fit well together over the years. Not just in quality - thanks in some part to Steven Spielberg - but also at the box office. Cruise's biggest grossing success to date is still 2005's War of the Worlds, which was also the best opening of his career with $64.8 million. Oblivion may not live up to the same standards in quality, and if we forget about some of Cruise's bigger openings the way his new script hopes we forget about all the films it stole ideas from, this opening looks pretty darn good too.
Valkyrie, Knight & Day and Jack Reacher combined for an average opening of $18.8 million for Cruise. Not one of them matching the start of even Eyes Wide Shut back in summer of '99. Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol was certainly a boom for the star; just the third of his career to reach $200 million. Oblivion will have no problem reaching that tally - worldwide - but is likely to trail off quickly here in the states. Still let's let Cruise and director Joseph Kosinski have their moment this weekend; the fourth best opening of 2013.
War of the Worlds ($64.8 million), Mission: Impossible II ($57.8), Mission: Impossible III ($47.7), Mission: Impossible ($45.4), Oblivion ($38.1), Interview with the Vampire ($36.3), Minority Report ($35.6), The Firm ($25.4), Vanilla Sky ($25.0), Collateral ($24.7)
Also the second best opening of Cruise's career for a non-Mission: Impossible film. Kudos to Universal for recognizing it might be a better idea to move this from July into April to be the first Scientologist-in-sci-fi-film-about-a-ravaged-Earth-in-the-future film this year. Good luck, Will Smith, M. Night Shyamalan and After Earth (which just moved up a week to distance itself from Man of Steel, but right in the path of Fast & Furious 6.) Yeah, good luck with all of that.
Director Joseph Kosinski brought TRON: Legacy in at a budget of $170 million and watched it gross just over $400 million worldwide. If the accounting was generous over at Disney, it may have been able to break even. Oblivion came in at $120 million (though some report as much as $140) and thanks to an early first week release overseas it had $77 million going into its U.S. release. Last year at Cinemacon, Universal was bragging about Battleship's $200 million opening overseas and how observers of that expensive venture were premature about its failure. O.K. so it was only the second biggest bomb of 2012. Oblivion is going to need at least $300 million globally to make back its cost. It may need that $200 million stake outside the U.S. to do that. As of this weekend its overseas haul is over $112 million.
Universal is still having the best 2013 compared to other studios. It may not have put itself out there as much as Warner Bros. has, but both Mama and Identity Thief (plus additional grosses for Jurassic Park 3D) have proven to be successes. Aside from Sony's Tri-Star division (with The Call and Evil Dead) and Lionsgate's Summit (with Warm Bodies and Snitch), Universal is the only major studio this year to brag about safely being in the black. Disney isn't quite there yet with Oz the Great and Powerful, despite being the highest grossing film of the year. (The Croods is coming up fast though.) Paramount is close to recouping its investment on G.I. Joe: Retaliation and still owns the biggest success of 2013 budget to grosses, surprisingly enough, with Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.
Universal's Mama is just behind the Hunters on that list followed by A Good Day to Die Hard, The Croods and Identity Thief. Oblivion is unlikely to be joining those ranks anytime soon, but if Universal is going to have any luck with the numbers one only needs to look at its summer lineup - Fast & Furious 6, Despicable Me 2, 2 Guns (with Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg) and Kick-Ass 2. In the words of Jimmy Conway, "It's gonna be a good summer!" -- for Universal that is. What a difference a year makes.
- 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]