Box Office Report: 'Ant-Man' Steals Weekend from Adam Sandler's 'Pixels'

Box Office Report: 'Ant-Man' Steals Weekend from Adam Sandler's 'Pixels'

Jul 27, 2015

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

1. Ant-Man - $24.7 million ($106.0 million total)

2. Pixels - $24.0 million ($24.0 million total)

3. Minions - $22.1 million ($261.6 million total)

4. Trainwreck - $17.3 million ($61.5 million total)

5. Southpaw - $16.5 million ($16.5 million total)

6. Paper Towns - $12.5 million ($12.5 million total)

7. Inside Out - $7.3 million ($320.3 million total)

8. Jurassic World - $6.9 million ($623.8 million total)

9. Mr. Holmes - $2.8 million ($6.4 million total)

10. Terminator Genisys - $2.4 million ($85.6 million total)

 

The Big Stories

It is not a week where anyone necessarily wants to hear about the success or failure of anything having to do with dollars and cents. While calls for good sense trouble us all, the business of the movies go on as does hopefully the pleasure. The critical numbers were not particularly strong for anyone this weekend nor were the dollars for the newbies in the marketplace. But if there is one silver lining out there for good taste everywhere, the "Adam Sandler thing" may have finally hit a wall that is impossible to ignore.

 

From Three Lives To Nine Lives To Game Over

From 1998 to 2008, Adam Sandler opened nine movies to at least $34 million. Four of them over $40 million and he had ten to reach the illustrious $100 million mark. Those same movies in question (which do not include films outside the comfort zone like Punch-Drunk Love and Spanglish) did not register well with critics, earning a high of 44% at Rotten Tomatoes (50 First Dates) and a low of 14% (I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry.) And yet people still went.

Since 2009, Sandler has had three (live-action) movies to open to $30 million or more; the same three grossing over $100 million including the second-highest of his career (Grown Ups with $162 million.) As for critical acclaim, not counting Funny People (Sandler's second-best score after Punch-Drunk Love), they go from best-to-worst as follows: That's My Boy (20%), Just Go With It (19%), Blended (14%), Grown Ups (10%), Grown Ups 2 (7%) and Jack and Jill (3%), Even his attempts with filmmakers Jason Reitman (Men, Women & Children) and Thomas McCarthy (The Cobbler) registered the lowest scores of the directors' careers at 31% and 11%, respectively.

But there are more crucial numbers to look at that suggest studios may be itching to exit the Sandler business sooner rather than later.

You Don't Mess with the Zohan ($130 million budget / $199.9 million worldwide)

Bedtime Stories ($125 million budget / $212.8 million worldwide)

Funny People ($108 million budget / $71.5 million worldwide)

Grown Ups ($125 million budget / $271.4 million worldwide)

Just Go with It ($125 million budget / $214.9 million worldwide)

Jack and Jill ($120 million budget / $149.6 million worldwide)

That's My Boy ($105 million budget / $57.7 million worldwide)

Hotel Transylvania ($135 million budget / $358.3 million worldwide)

Grown Ups 2 ($130 million budget / $246.9 million worldwide)

Blended ($78 million budget / $126.7 million worldwide)

 

The amount of money associated between production and advertising on these films is staggering. Remember that the studios only reap 50-51% of those worldwide dollars depending on their deals with the theaters, which means that only Hotel Transylvania and the first Grown Ups could boast a profit. The rest have all been losers and now Pixels looks to join that list.

With a production budget listed at $88 million (before P&A), a $24 million opening weekend is just not going to cut it. Especially for a film that should have appeal beyond your average Sandler followers and even has a director (Chris Columbus) who is no stranger to high-concept FX event pictures.. When all is said and done, all that needs to be said about the 19%-rated Pixels is that more people chose to see Adam Sandler play his own twin sister in November than watch him and buddy Kevin James fight real-life video game characters in the summertime. Ouch.

 

Something For Big Boys and Little Girls

While tracking companies were once again way off in marking the weekend gross for the follow-up to The Fault In Our Stars, they also slightly underestimated the appeal of Jake Gyllenhaal in a boxing film.

Southpaw came out on top of Paper Towns this weekend. It's $16.5 million was the third best of Gyllenhaal's top-billed career (after Prince of Persia and Jarhead.) According to Box Office Mojo it is also the fourth-best opening for a boxing film behind Cinderella Man, Rocky IV and, yes, Real Steel. Most of the films on that list started small (such as award contenders Million Dollar Baby, The Fighter and The Hurricane) and went on to decent grosses. Will be interesting to see how Southpaw fares with audiences in the weeks ahead. Can it reach $50 million? Antoine Fuqua's King Arthur started with less back in 2004 and made it to $51. The studio would be thrilled with that number even if it may need $100 worldwide to recoup its budget.

Some guesstimates on Fox's teen romance Paper Towns had it close to $30 million this weekend. Talk about overestimating the appeal of "from the author of The Fault In Our Stars" (minus Shailene Woodley). The $12.5 million start puts the film close to last year's Endless Love remake, though it will likely still outgross its $23.4 million total. At a cost of just $12 million, Fox probably felt good with those tracking estimates having its second success of the summer. After the film did $6.3 million on Friday and just $6.2 million on Saturday and Sunday combined, things are not so certain once you factor in P&A costs. Looks like we're still searching for summer's sleeper hit.


Tales of the Top Ten

Remember last week anyone who declared Ant-Man a disappointment for Marvel? That is what we like to call "jumping the gun" and "dead wrong." (Feel free to say the same to me if Pixels makes it to $150 million.)

Consider the 10-day grosses on other Marvel origin stories:

Spider-Man ($223.0), Iron Man ($177.8), Guardians of the Galaxy ($176.5), The Amazing Spider-Man ($165.8), Thor ($119.4), Captain America: The First Avenger ($117.4), Ant-Man ($106.0), Hulk ($100.5), Fantastic Four ($100.1), X-Men ($99.3), Ghost Rider ($79.0)

OK, so maybe not "dead" wrong. But the fact remains that while the film may not be putting up Avengers, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Guardians or Captain America-sequel money, it managed to ward off challengers to win the box office for a second weekend. It had a better second weekend hold than the first Captain America, X-Men, Fantastic Four or the second Incredible Hulk film. So somewhere between $157-175 million is not out of the question (it needs about another $130 million worldwide to break even) and it would also be the highest-grossing (live-action) film of Paul Rudd's career.


Going down the list, Universal is still having a tremendous year. Jurassic World made enough this weekend to pass Marvel's The Avengers for third on the all-time box office chart (both U.S. and worldwide.)

Minions is still headed towards $300 million to make history for the studio. Though it may be continuing to fall behind the pace of Despicable Me 2's $368 million, somewhere in the vicinity of $325 is not going to make anyone lose sleep over there. Plus it allows Pixar's Inside Out to win the box office race as well since it currently stands at $320 million and counting after this weekend.

Also from Universal is Judd Apatow and Amy Schumer's Trainwreck. The comedy still needs roughly another $78 million to break into profit but it is holding nicely even if it may depend on the overseas dollars to not be a minor disappointment financially.

Roadside expanded the release of Mr. Holmes to 686 theaters this week and have managed to keep it in the conversation once again. Roughly the same strategy employed with Love & Mercy and now Holmes finds itself $1.8 million ahead of the pace of that film, which has grossed just under $12 million to date.

Finally, we conclude this week with the knowledge that the Terminator franchise is pretty much dead. Good luck justifying those planned sequels to Genisys slated for May 19, 2017 and June 29, 2018 when your $220 million reboot will be the first of the sequels to not gross $100 million here in the states and may barely touch $300 million worldwide. Unless you can convince James Cameron to get away from the Avatars and find his way back to this franchise, you may be hearing its future being terminated off the schedule faster than Adam Sandler's.


- Erik Childress can be heard each week on the WGN Radio Podcast evaluating box office with Nick Digilio.

[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]

 

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