Memorial Day weekend was a bust at the box office this year. In what has to be one of the worst performing Memorial Day weekends in the past decade, Disney’s Tomorrowland finished victorious (Friday-Sunday) but not by much. With a $32.2 million opening, Tomorrowland was a financial turkey for Brad Bird, whose film carried an estimated price tag of $190 million. Having seen it at a screening prior to its release I must say that beyond its shiny veneer it was nothing but fool’s gold. It’s not that the film was particularly bad, it was just disappointing and that may be a death sentence for some filmmakers. It’s one thing to hate or love a film, but when you fall into the camp of feeling that the director disappointed you to some degree, well that’s a whole new arena. But who’s to say that in time Tomorrowland won’t develop a ground swell of support. I’m not saying it will be like Bird’s The Iron Giant, but it may find greater appreciation on the dwindling home video market. Unless it becomes a hit overseas, which I don’t think is likely considering its subject matter, this could be another box office turkey for Disney after live-action failures The Lone Ranger and John Carter.
Last week’s number one, which I had initially pegged to finish with $35 million (it did nearly double that!), Pitch Perfect slipped to second and added another $30.3 million to bring its domestic earnings to $117.8 million. Consider for a moment that worldwide the first one only made $95 million.
Word of mouth is proving to help boost Mad Max: Fury Road as it only dropped 47.7% to bring its stateside earnings to around $87 million. Worldwide numbers should be even better once those totals come in. Somewhere north of $220 million.
Good news for Sam Rockwell fans: he had a movie that opened above $20 million! Granted it was 20th Century Fox’s remake of Poltergeist. With mediocre to poor reviews it still managed to open above The Avengers: Age of Ultron in its fourth week of release (it finished with $20.1 million to bring domestic earnings to $401 million). Nevertheless, Rockwell gets a victory over Tony Stark for a change. The horror remake should make a hasty exit from the top 10 in the succeeding weeks with the arrivals of San Andreas, Insidious: Chapter 3 and Spy among others.
Fox Searchlight’s Far From The Madding Crowd got a boost in attendance with added screens in its fourth week of release and finished with another $3 million. April holdover Furious 7 continues to be a presence in the top 10 as it nears $350 million domestically.
Even with the continued success of last week’s #1 and #2, Pitch Perfect 2 and Mad Max: Fury Road, this Memorial Day weekend is less than stellar in terms of release and performance. Compare some of the Memorial Day weekend openings the past few years (Note: these are earnings for the four-day weekend):
2014: X-Men: Days of Future Past ($110 Million)
2013: Fast & Furious 6 ($117 Million), The Hangover Part III ($50 Million), Epic ($42 Million)
2011: The Hangover Part II ($103 Million), Kung Fu Panda 2 ($60 Million)
Granted, aside from Epic, all of these films are sequels in franchises, but as you can see Memorial Day weekend is prime real estate for studios to exploit the success of franchises with sequels. Heck, even 2012 had the stagnating Men in Black franchise drop a third installment with earnings in excess of $69 million.
Let this be a reminder to Hollywood that if you plan to erect a tentpole for Memorial Day make sure it is with a franchise sequel, not a horror remake or something “original” as it may be misconstrued as something wrong, not profound.
Full Top 10 below.
01. Tomorrowland — $32.1 million
02. Pitch Perfect 2 — $30.3 million
03. Mad Max: Fury Road — $23.8 million ($87.3 million total)
04. Poltergeist — $23 million
05. Avengers: Age of Ultron — $20.9 million ($404.1 million total)
06. Hot Pursuit — $3.4 million ($28.9 million total)
07. Far from the Madding Crowd — $3 million ($6.3 million total)
08. Furious 7 — $2.6 million ($347.5 million total)
09. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 — $3 million ($66 million total)
10. Home — 1.6 million ($167.9 million total)
Tags: box office, Mad Max: Fury Road, Pitch Perfect 2, Poltergeist, Tomorrowland