Movies - Box Office postsSunday July 16, 2017
Box Office: Well-Reviewed 'Apes' Doesn't Exactly Blow Up
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|
|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|
|2012||The Amazing Spider-Man||$262,030,663||$62,004,688|
|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.
'Transformers' Transform Into Blah Box Office
I've got good news and bad news for people who hate the “Transformers” movies as much as I do.
The good news is that domestically the series peaked at the box office in 2009 with “Revenge of the Fallen.” It's tough to compare their opening weekends since the movies opened on different days—a Tuesday, a Friday and three Wednesdays—so I've compared opening days, as well as first five days, below:
|Movie||Opened||1st day||5 Days||Total|
|2007||Transformers||Tues., July 3||$36||107.3||$319|
|2009||Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen||Wed., June 24||$62||200.0||$402|
|2011||Transformers: Dark of the Moon||Wed., June 29||$43||162.5||$352|
|2014||Transformers: Age of Extinction||Fri., June 27||$42||120.9||$245|
|2014||Transformers: The Last Knight||Wed., June 21||$16||68.4||??|
As you can see, the shamelessly titled “Last Knight” is taking in a fraction of what “Fallen” did eight years ago—and that's unadjusted. Hell, it's taking in a fraction of what “Extinction” did in 2014. All of the sequels generally make half of their final total domestic gross in their first five days, and if this trend continues “Last Knight” is topping out at around $140, or $70 million short of its production budget. Bye bye, Optimus. Time to shut down this idiotfest.
Except, of yeah, there are other people in the world, and they seem to love this idiotfest.
|2009||Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen||$402||$434||48%|
|2011||Transformers: Dark of the Moon||$352||$771||31%|
|2014||Transformers: Age of Extinction||$245||$857||22%|
|2014||Transformers: The Last Knight||$69*||$196*||26%|
Other mechanized, sequelized heroes, Pixar's “Cars 3,” grossed $25 million in its second weekend to finish No. 2 at the box office. This sequel too is down from the heights of its predecessors. In fact, if you adjust for inflation, “Cars 2” was actually the second lowest-grossing film in Pixar history, after “The Good Dinosaur,” so you kind of wonder why “3” was made. Oh right. Worldwide, it grossed $562 million. Sigh.
Third place is occupied by the third weekend of “Wonder Woman,” which fell off only 39% and is now at $319 million domestically. Worldwide, it's at $652. It's the crown jewel of the DC Extended Universe. Low bar, yes.
The weekend's best box office news? Word-of-mouth is apparently working for the summer's best comedy, “The Big Sick,” which opened in five theaters in NY and LA and grossed an average of $80k per. Those are good numbers. It opens at a theater near you on July 14.
UPDATE: The fourth weekend of “Wonder Woman” actually edged out the second weekend of “Cars 3” by about a million ($24.9 vs. $24.0). The estimates for “Transformers 5” were also a little optimistic: Its five-day total is down by half a million to $68.4. The above chart is corrected accordingly.
Box Office: 'Wonder Woman' Has Legs
See if you can spot the pattern.
- In its first weekend, “Wonder Woman” grossed $103 million, which is the 40th-best opening weekend of all time.
- In its second weekend, “Wonder Woman” grossed $58.5 million, which is the 24th-best second weekend of all time.
- This weekend, its third, “Wonder Woman” has grossed $40 million, which is the 11th-best third weekend of all time.
It's called word-of-mouth. It's called legs. “Wonder Woman” has them.
It also means the “DC Extended Universe” finally has a winner.
True, “Man of Steel” was the fifth-highest-grossing film of 2013, with $290 million, which some might consider a winner; but it left a slightly sour taste in mouths with Superman killing folks and all, so ... no. And true, “Batman v. Superman” and “Suicide Squad” finished eighth and ninth respectively for 2016, but those films left a positively shitty taste in mouths because they were just beyond dumb. They opened big and died quickly. Everyone said, “Nah.”
For comparison's sake:
|Man of Steel||$116||$41||$20||$291||55%|
|Batman v. Superman||$166||$51||$23||$330||27%|
Of the four, “Wonder Woman” had the weakest opener, the best second weekend, and the best third weekend by almost 2-to-1. It also had good reviews and positive word-of-mouth. That's how you do it. Sad that it's taken DC this long to realize it. Hell, maybe they still haven't. Wouldn't be surprised.
Where will “Wonder Woman” stop? Certainly atop “BvS” for the best of this extended universe. But with the way it's holding, I'm wondering if it can top $400 mil. The superhero movies that have done that? Three Avengers (“Avengers,” “Ultron” and “Civil War”), two Batmans (“Dark Knight” and “Rises”), an Iron Man (“3”) and a “Spider-Man” (1, back in 2002). That's it. Rarefied company.
“WW”'s $40 mil actually finished second for the weekend. The top spot went to “Cars 3” at $53 mil, a box-office total that's actually a comedown for both the “Cars” franchise (1 and 2 opened in the 60s, unadjusted), and for Pixar, which hasn't opened a widely distributed sequel this poorly since ... ever.
The Tupac biopic, “All Eyez On Me,” finished third with $27 mil. That's the second-best opening for a music biopic, after “Straight Outta Compton,” which opened to $60 mil back in August 2015.
“Rough Night,” the ladies' version of “The Hangover,” starring Scarlett Johansson and Kate McKinnon, had a rough time, grossing $8 mil in more than 3,000 theaters.
Box Office: Which Hollywood Movies Gross More in China?
“Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2” opened to $145 mil in the U.S. this weekend, which is about $50 mil more than the original grossed opening weekend August 2014, but it's not exactly earth-shattering. It's the 17th-best opener ever, and the second-best this year, (after “Beauty and the Beast,” which opened at $174 back in March). But at this point, for this type of film, if it doesn't break $150, or $160, it's hardly news. It's Mike Trout batting .300 and hitting 30 HRs. It's what it's supposed to do.
“The Fate of the Furious” finished second. A distant second: $8 mil in its fourth weekend. The film cost $250 to produce and has earned back only $207 in the U.S., which would seem to be a failure. Except, of course, it's grossed nearly $1 billion abroad. In China alone, its receipts ($374 million) nearly double what it's grabbed in the U.S.
This is an increasingly common phenomenon: the Hollywood blockbuster making more in China than in the U.S. Here's a chart of Hollywood movies that have done that since 2014:
|The Fate of the Furious||2017||$373,921,406||$207,136,495||1.81|
|Transformers: Age of Extinction||2014||$320,000,000||$245,439,076||1.30|
|The Great Wall*||2016||$170,962,106||$45,157,105||3.79|
|Kong: Skull Island||2017||$168,384,464||$165,792,080||1.02|
|xXx: The Return of Xander Cage||2017||$164,066,583||$44,898,413||3.65|
|Resident Evil: The Final Chapter||2017||$159,548,686||$26,830,068||5.95|
|Kung Fu Panda 3||2016||$154,304,371||$143,528,619||1.08|
* Joint Hollywood/China production
Overall, it seems like a film festival in hell. It's sequel-laden with a focus on mechanized power: the musclecars of the “Furious” movies; Transformers and Terminators.
It's particularly interesting noting the movies that die here and are reborn there: “Warcraft,” which is a video game thing; “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage” (they love Vin more than we do), and the most recent “Resident Evil,” which, in China, grossed nearly twice as much as “Beauty and the Beast” ($85 mil).
So are these sequels new to them and old-hat to us? Do they flock to the familiar more than we do? I have no answers, just questions.
China also has its huge homegrown blockbusters as well: the “Journey to the West” cycle, randy comedies like “Breakup Buddies,” and particularly “The Mermaid,” its first half a billion domestic grosser from last year. So far, none of these travel the way Hollywood movies travel. Will be interesting to see if they ever do. Would be interesting to see how the world changes.
Box Office: Derbez > Hanks, Watson
I was busy last week taking my wife to the Mayo Clinic, then playing catch-up at work, then trying to stay abreast of the week's nauseating Comey/AHCA debaccles, but I would be a bit remiss if I didn't mention the oddity that occurred in last weekend's U.S. box office.
It was the second-weakest weekend of the year ($99 mil overall), but that's hardly newsworthy.
“The Fate of the Furious” led the box office for the third weekend in a row, but, again, nothing to alert the news media. Or the bloggers.
No, it was really the new releases, which finished in second, third and fifth place, that stand out.
In second place, grossing $12 mil, was “How to Be a Latin Lover,” a broad comedy starring Eugenio Derbez and Salma Hayek. Initially I thought it a Mexican production, or a co-U.S./Mexico production, but it's from Lionsgate's new Hispanic entertainment division, Pantelion, which came about, in part, because of Derbez's previous film, “Instructions Not Included,” which, in 2013, became the fourth-highest-grossing foreign film of all time in the U.S. ($44 mil)—after “Crouching Tiger,” “Life is Beautiful” and “Hero” with Jet Li.
In third place, grossing $10 mil, was “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion.” From India. It became the third-highest-grossing foreign opener ever—after two Jet Li movies.
And in fifth place? “The Circle,” starring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson. It grossed $9 mil.
That's right: A movie with one of Hollywood's biggest and most beloved stars, along with Hermione herself, who headlines the biggest box-office hit of the year, “Beauty and the Beast,” was surpassed by flicks from Mexico and India. And in Donald Trump's U.S.
It feels like a new thing, like a chance we might have. It reminds me of the ending to James Baldwin's 1955 essay, “Stranger in a Village”: “This world is white no longer, and it will never be white again.”