Time to alert the media. The box office is down! The box office is down! This weekend last year the top 12 films accounted for a domestic sum of $221 million. For this Fourth of July, the top 12 was an estimated $118m, which is a 53% drop. Could this be a sign that audiences are getting bored with sequels and remakes clogging theater screens, or that Hollywood is just having a bad summer? The weekend also registered the first summer movie to repeat atop the top 10. Comparatively, July 4th, 2013, already had three films repeat at #1, all of them sequels (Iron Man 3, Fast & Furious 6, and Monsters University).
So what went wrong this July 4th? The clear answer is that the weekend was one of the worst in terms of wide releases. Remember when July 4th weekend used to be huge? For a few years it was the weekend that Will Smith owned with Independence Day, Men in Black, its sequel, and Hancock (not so much with Wild Wild West). All three opened at $50 million or more. Other notable big openings this 27th weekend of the year: Spider-Man 2 (2004, $88m), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006, $135m), Transformers (2007, $70m), The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010, $64m), Horrible Bosses (2011, $28m – not bad considering its $35m price tag), The Amazing Spider-Man (2012, $62m – not so great considering its $230m price tag), and Despicable Me 2 (2013, $83.5m).
Here’s what we had wide releases for 2014’s July 4th: Tammy, Deliver Us From Evil, and Earth to Echo. If you had never seen an advertisement or read anything about the releases and just went on the title, do any of these sound appealing? Granted, much like one should never judge a book by its cover, can the same be said for a movie title? I’m positive that calling the film adaptation of All You Need is Kill the generic-sounding Edge of Tomorrow played a small part in that film falling flat its opening weekend, before strong word-of-mouth helped to bolster its case as the best blockbuster of the summer.
Of the three new movies, the one that attracted the most viewers was Tammy. This is on account of the popularity of Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids, CBS’ “Mike & Molly”) I’m sure. Despite the comedy’s estimated $21m, it wasn’t enough to topple Transformers: Age of Extinction, taking the weekend once again with $36.4m (a substantial drop of 63.6% after opening with $100 million one weekend ago).
The suits at Paramount and Hasbro aren’t too concerned, because in two weeks of release Trans4mers has grossed $575m worldwide. With international markets to come, it will be interesting to see if it can crossed the $1 billion mark. Hell, in China alone it has netted $213m, which is $38m better than the U.S.
The alternative, low cost/high reward programming of Deliver Us From Evil and Earth to Echo didn’t favor much better. The horror genre is new territory for uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer, but I guess he needs to try something different since his golden goose with Disney is no more. Though I’d put that squarely on Bruckheimer and his desire to make franchises cloud his judgement when it comes to making movies.
Relativity’s Earth to Echo looked like an intriguing family film, even with its found footage pastiche, yet the film failed to crack $10 million over the weekend. Relativity Media isn’t a studio built for huge money earners. Its model isn’t that different than say a studio like Screen Gems. In this case, low budgets that make a decent amount before hitting the home market and later play in rotation on TNT (Safe Haven, Limitless).
Outside of the new releases, both 22 Jump Street and How to Train Your Dragon 2 continue to hold well. At $158m the 21 Jump Street sequel has become the biggest comedy hit of 2014, even outgrossing the Seth Rogen/Zac Efron comedy Neighbors ($148m). And audiences are still game to more of a guy training his dragon as the sequel has made close to $300m worldwide.
Maleficent added another $6.1m to bring its domestic haul to $213m (worldwide it is at a very impressive $630 million). Jersey Boys has found its niche with older audiences, suffering only a 33% drop in attendance from the prior weekend, to bring its three-week total to $36.7m.
The release that took the biggest drop in terms of seeding was Think Like a Man Too, dropping from fourth to ninth place with $4.9m. The movie that entertainment sites would rather you not talk about its box office (and instead talk about how great the movie is which it is), Tom Cruise’s Edge of Tomorrow has earned $90 million in five weeks. Globally it is at $325m. I have a feeling this will become huge when it enters the retail market and is discovered by those who passed on it during its theatrical release.
In limited release, Steve James’ documentary, Life Itself, based on the memoir of film critic Roger Ebert played at 25 venues grossing $140k. Jon Favreau’s Chef may have lost 115 venues, but it earned $1.6m to bring its nine-week total to $22m. Begin Again expanded from five to 175 theaters and earned $1.3m this Fourth of July weekend. The Weinstein Company’s mismanagement of Snowpiercer, went from 8 to 250 screens netted close to $1 million in receipts. And finally, the 50th anniversary of A Hard Day’s Night got a limited engagement at 102 venues. It grossed an estimated $160k.
Top 10 weekend estimates below.
01. Transformers: Age of Extinction – $36.4 Million ($174.7m)
02. Tammy – $21.1 Million ($32.9m)
03. Deliver Us From Evil – $9.5 Million ($15m)
04. 22 Jump Street – $9.4 Million ($158.8m)
05. How to Train Your Dragon 2 – $8.75 Million ($140m)
06. Earth to Echo – $8.25 Million ($13.5m)
07. Maleficent – $6.1 Million ($213.8m)
08. Jersey Boys – $5.1 Million ($36.7m)
09. Think Like a Man Too – $4.9 Million ($57.1m)
10. Edge of Tomorrow – $3.6 Million ($90.8m)
Tags: Begin Again, box office, Snowpiercer, Transformers Age of Extinction