Audience burnout. That’s how I look at the current summer slate. Theatergoers aren’t racing to see sequels, franchises or identifiable properties like studios would hope. Take a look at X-Men: Apocalypse. Last week’s No. 1 with a $65 million opening ($25 million less than the previous entry, 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past), the film’s attendance dropped 66% and it finished in second place with $22.3 million.
The new box office champ, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, had a soft opening of $35 million ($30M less than what its predecessor did in 2014 – ouch). The trend is apparent throughout this week’s Top 10 as Alice Through the Looking Glass saw its earnings dip 60% in its second weekend. Allegations of Johnny Depp’s domestic abuse of wife Amber Heard probably didn’t help, though the quality of product is mostly to blame. What about Disney? Alice in Wonderland is an identifiable property as a famous story and animated classic, so when the live-action release in 2010 grossed more than a billion worldwide, a sequel was all but assured.
I keep thinking of that line from David Mamet’s Heist.
“Everybody needs money. That’s why they call it money.”
But one success does not guarantee future success. Universal’s Neighbors was a big hit on a modest $18 million budget. A sequel was put in to production, yet I want to know the focus group that said, “We need a sequel to Neighbors!” In my review I acknowledged that The laughs are not as loud this time around. It has made $48.5 million in three weeks (and another $40 million overseas). Compare that to the $113.7 million domestic total Neighbors had accumulated three weeks into its theatrical run.
The lone exception when it comes to franchises this summer season is Captain America: Civil War and Marvel’s Cinematic Universe as a whole. Mastermind producer Kevin Feige seems to see his MCU grow bigger and bigger with each successive release. The third Captain America has made more than a billion worldwide and Civil War is on pace to gross more than $400 million domestically.
The biggest hit new release was the romantic tearjerker Me Before You, based on the best-selling novel. Finishing in third place with an estimated $18.2 million, it was $2M shy of matching its production budget.
The sad news is the performance of The Lonely Island’s Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. Easily the best offering as far as this week’s biggest new releases goes, Popstar opened a disappointing eighth with $4.2 million. Sadly, these are some of comedies that opened better than this great music mockumentary: Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star ($6.6M), Joe Dirt ($8M), and Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd ($10.8M). Come on, guys! This is a funny movie that deserves more love. As does the comedy that rounds out the top 10: Shane Black’s The Nice Guys. This is one of the best films of the year and of any original property out there is deserving of a franchise. Maybe it will find its audience on VOD (fingers crossed).
Elsewhere, The Lobster with Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz got a boost with 444 more screens to finish with $1.5 million. Sony Pictures Classics moved Maggie’s Plan from 19 to 35 screens and it finished with $153k. And for fans of Disney’s Zootopia, the animated hit crossed $1 billion globally, just in time as it makes its debut to DVD and Blu-ray this week.
Upcoming we have a pair of sequels (The Conjuring 2 and Now You See Me 2) and Warcraft opening. Yeah, I’m taking The Conjuring 2 to win the weekend with ease. The first Conjuring made $41 million its opening weekend. I can see this making $25-$30 million to finish in first place.
The complete top 10 can be found below.
01. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows – $35.2 Million
02. X-Men: Apocalypse – $22.3 Million ($116.4M)
03. Me Before You – $18.2 Million
04. Alice Through the Looking Glass – $10.6 Million ($50.7M)
05. The Angry Birds Movie – $9.7 Million ($86.6M)
06. Captain America: Civil War – $7.5 Million ($388.9M)
07. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising – $4.7 Million ($48.5M)
08. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping – $4.6 Million
09. The Jungle Book – $4.2 Million ($347.4M)
10. The Nice Guys – $3.5 Million ($29.1M)
Tags: box office, Me Before You, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, The Lobster