erik lundegaard

Box Office: Well-Reviewed 'Apes' Doesn't Exactly Blow Up

War for the Planet of the Apes box office

Les Biz

For once it's not Hollywood's fault. 

Normally the summer months mean shitty movies that everyone goes to see. This weekend was kind of the opposite of that. 

It was the first weekend of “War of the Planet of the Apes,” which got great reviews (95% on Rotten Tomatoes), and whose predecessor in the series, “Dawn of...,” opened at $72.6 million. But this one opened down, at $56 million.

It was the second weekend of “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” which got great reviews (93% on Rotten Tomatoes), and which opened last weekend at a sturdy $116 mil. But this weekend it dropped 61.4%, grossing just $45.2. 

Most disappointing for me, it was the first weekend of a wide-ish release (2,000+ theaters) of the brilliant rom-com “The Big Sick,” which got greater-than-great reviews (97% on Rotten Tomatoes), and which, in limited release, had done well on a per-theater basis, averaging between $10k-$84k per theater. But this weekend it averaged just $2.9k per theater, pulling in $7.6 million. It finished in fifth place. 

You can make excuses as to why the three underperformed. Sequels tend to open on the strength of the previous film, and “Dawn of...” was just so-so. “Homecoming” was the sixth Spider-Man movie in 15 years and people are franchise fatigued. And “The Big Sick” stars nobody big, the lead is Muslim-American, and we're still a shitty, racist society. 

OK, some excuses are better than others. 

Seriously, though, I can't remember a summer with so many wide-release movies that got these kinds of rave reviews: “Baby Driver” at 95%, “Wonder Woman” at 92%. True, I thought both of those movies weren't all that, but at least they're not “Transformers”-type films that leave you brain-dead and ready to throw western civilization in the trashcan. 

Indeed, that's a positive takeaway of the summer: Domestically anyway, “Transformers,” with its shitty reviews (15%), is taking a nose dive—or a belly flop:

Year Movie Total U.S. Gross Opening Wknd
2009 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen $402,111,870 $108,966,307
2011 Transformers: Dark of the Moon $352,390,543 $97,852,865
2007 Transformers $319,246,193 $70,502,384
2014 Transformers: Age of Extinction $245,439,076 $100,038,390
2017 Transformers: The Last Knight $124,888,619 $44,680,073

Since 2009, the “Transformers” domestic total has fallen off by: 1) $50 mil, then another 2) $100+ million, and now yet another 3) $100+ million. Down $250 million? Stick a fork in it. 

Meanwhile, Spidey, with its good reviews, is on the upswing: 

Year Movie Total U.S. Gross Opening Wknd
2002 Spider-Man $403,706,375 $114,844,116
2004 Spider-Man 2 $373,585,825 $88,156,227
2007 Spider-Man 3 $336,530,303 $151,116,516
2012 The Amazing Spider-Man $262,030,663 $62,004,688
2017 Spider-Man: Homecoming $208,270,314 $117,027,503
2014 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 $202,853,933 $91,608,337

In just its second weekend, it's already surpassed “Amazing 2,” and looks to pass “Amazing.” It will be the highest-grossing Spidey since Raimi. 

So there's that. 

Other poorly reviewed movies that underperformed this summer include “The Mummy” (15%/$79 mil) and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” (29%/$170 mil, down $70 mil from the one six years ago). The third “Cars” (68%/$140) is grossing $100 mil less than the first “Cars” 11 years ago (unadjusted), while the third “Despicable Me” (61%/$187) is, after three weekends, at half of what “2” grossed three years ago. 

So there is correlation between quality and box office—even for the tentpoles. 

But c'mon people, go see “The Big Sick” already. Don't make me come over there.

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Posted at 02:12 PM on Sun. Jul 16, 2017 in category Movies - Box Office  

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