This Week in Box Office History
TWBOH takes a look at the last 30 years of top grossing movies. Sifting through the celluloid, we review audience preferences and spot the trends in movie watching history. Sequel Season is still in effect this week, as we have a plethora of second and third efforts from bankable franchises. And believe me, I wouldn’t tell you there was a plethora, if I didn’t fully understand what plethora meant, or was sure that we did indeed have such a plethora…
The Week that Was: Fantastic Voyage.
Disney has pretty much staked out last week as a live action bonanza: The Pirates of the Carribean films, Snow White and the Huntsman, and now Maleficent have delivered big for the studio over the the last decade or so. If you want to extrapolate (and who doesn’t, am I right?) you could also tack on two other cartoon-to-live-action films that scored big in the same weekend: 1995’s Casper and 1994’s The Flintstones. Though hardly classics, it does add up to a trend, and Disney has already booked two more films starring flesh and blood versions of their cartoons. I would safely assume that they are slotted for the last week in May/first week in June.
Maleficent did indeed take the top spot as predicted, with a great (but not astounding) 69 million, just shy of the 70-80 million I thought it would make, and also just shy Oz the Great and Powerful. Critics and viewers have given it a solid bill of health, so expect it to stick around and have a strong month.
Second place fell to the X-men time travel squad, who must have gotten dinged up pretty seriously exiting the worm hole. The film lost 65% of its Mojo (that’s an X-men time travel joke…oh never mind…) and crash landed into a disappointing 35 million. No deceptive marketing practices to blame here, and criticism has been mostly positive, so this stumble is a bit of an oddity.
Third place was a complete blowout, as A Million Ways to Die in the West found a sure-fired way to die at the box office. 16 million was a stinging failure for MacFarlane, who has managed so far to turn anything he touches into media gold. At least we have more episodes of Cosmos to look forward to, Seth.
The Week that Will Be: Predictions
#3: Maleficent. In any other week, this film would qualify for a second place showing. Unfortunately, even with a modest 40-50% decline, Maleficent may find herself uninvited to the party this week. I do see this movie hanging around for the long haul, but 30-35 million will be just enough to miss second place this week.
#2: Edge of Tomorrow. I was all set to put this movie in the first place slot. Tom Cruise has struggled of late, but this film has good hype, solid reviews, and a ton of marketing going for it. Then I read the numbers for how well A Fault in our Stars is doing…on a Thursday. All indicators seem to point to it being the real deal. Sorry Tom, second place is going to have to suffice this week: 40-45 million for you.
#1: The Fault in our Stars. This film was completely under my radar. It’s based on a best-selling young-adult book, but hasn’t really burnished those credentials (perhaps not wanting to fall into the over-promise, under-deliver trap that Divergent, City of Bones, and Percy Jackson fell into.) It has a vaguely recognizable lead in Shailene Woodley (also from Divergent) but hardly an all-star cast. All that being said, there is apparently a huge following for this project, as it made more than 8 million dollars on its debut, warranted premium pre-release events with the stars, and has sold a strong number of advance tickets for this weekend. So yeah, going to be kind of a big thing. That is also not a typical young girl vs. the end of the world schtick that every other YA movie has done to death can only help it. I think we can safely say 50-60 million for this film would be even a bit of a low estimate.
The summer Sequel bug continues to burn brightly, with the usual suspects still on display: Star Wars, Rambo, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones and Rocky all have iterations that charted this week. A new wrinkle is the large amount of children’s fair that appeared on the list: 2 Shreks, Madagascar, Finding Nemo, and others. Disney has shifted towards live action offerings over recent years for this time period, but it is hard to say if children are interested in Angelina Jolie or the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. With so many strong performances over the last 30 years, it is a bit odd that movie makers have pretty much abandoned this market lately. The only kid friendly flick still available today is the lack-luster Rio 2. At least it matches the sequel trend…
A fun sub-trend that seems to be emerging over the last decade is May/June finding its footing with female audiences. Snow White, Maleficent, Sex and the City, and The Break-Up all took top spots this week in history. Add to this that Edge of Tomorrow and Fault in Our Stars both feature strong female leads, and we may have some hope that 50% of the movie-going populace will have something to watch in between Fast and Furious installments.
Information courtesy of Box Office Mojo. Used with permission.