erik lundegaard

Hollywood B.O.: Summer of Underperforming Sequels

In one of the last weekends of the movie summer, “The Expendables 2,” starring Stallone, et al., grossed $28 million at the domestic box office to lead the pack. That's indicative of the summer movie season. Not because stupid movies rule (although...) but because sequels and reboots have been underperforming against previous incarnations. Two year ago, the first “Expendables” opened with $34 million.

Other underpeforming sequels and reboots?

  • “The Dark Knight Rises,” which will probably gross $100 million less than its predecessor, “The Dark Knight,” which topped out at $533 million in 2008.
  • “The Amazing Spider-Man,” which will be the first cinematic Spidey movie to gross less than $300 million domestically. It's currently at $257 million and didn't make $1 million this weekend. The first Tobey Maguire “Spider-Man” grossed $403 million in 2002, which, adjusted, would be $557 million today.
  • “MIB 3,” which, unadjusted, is still the lowest-grossing of the “Men in Black” series. The first grossed $250 million back in the summer of '97. That's $438 million today. 
  • “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” the fourth in the series, and the fourth in terms of unadjusted domestic gross at $150 million. If you adjust for inflation, each incarnation has lost audience: $243, $239, $211, $150.
  • “Total Recall,” which, at $51 million and fading, won't even gross what the original grossed ($119 million) in 1990
  • “The Bourne Legacy” The original kept growing in terms of B.O.: $121, $176, $227. This one will be lucky to gross $100 million.

The one sequel this summer that outpeformed its predecessors? “Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted.” The first made $193 in '05, the second $180 in '08. This $212 in '12. But if you adjust, the third is still $30+ million shy of the first.

The numbers are stronger worldwide, but still down:

Sequel Worldwide Previous Worldwide Difference
The Amazing Spider-Man $692 $890 -$198
The Dark Knight Rises $897 $1,001 -$104
Ice Age: Continental Drift $794 $886 -$92
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted $565 $603 -$38
MIB 3 $621 $441 +$180

Meanwhile, “Battleship” sank ($65), “The Campaign” flopped ($51), “Rock of Ages” whined ($38), “That's My Boy” miscarried ($37), and “The Watch” went unwatched ($33).

So what were the big winners of the summer box office besides “The Avengers” ($617/$1.4 billion)? A few overperformers:

  • “Ted,” the Mark Wahlberg/teddy bear comedy, which has grossed $213 million and counting. That's the summer's fifth-best.
  • “Snow White and the Huntsman”: $155 million.
  • “Magic Mike”: $112 million.

Then there's Wes Anderson's “Moonrise Kingdom,” whose widest release was 924 theaters, but which still grossed $43 million. The following is a list of movies with wider releases that grossed less:

Movie US Gross Theaters
What to Expect When You're Expecting $41,152,203 3,021
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days $38,762,000 3,401
Rock of Ages $38,518,613 3,470
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter $37,233,819 3,109
That's My Boy $36,931,089 3,030
Hope Springs $35,051,000 2,361
The Watch $33,000,000 3,168
Step Up Revolution $32,853,000 2,606
Katy Perry: Part of Me $25,239,000 2,732
Chernobyl Diaries $18,119,640 2,433
People Like Us $12,395,078 2,055
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World $7,078,738 1,620

So is this sequel fade an aberration? Or are we finally getting tired of seeing the same old story sped up and dumbed down? Who knows? But expect “Ted 2” in summer 2014.

"Ted" (2012): When you hear the sound of thunder, / Don't you get too scared. / Just grab your thunder buddy / And say these magic words...

TED talks: Only “Avengers,” “Dark Knight,” “Spider-Man” and “Brave” grossed more this summer.


Posted at 05:46 PM on Sun. Aug 19, 2012 in category Movies - Box Office  
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