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. This week seems like the loose-end draw in your kitchen, with a random mix of high profile blockbusters. There’s a few disaster movies, there’s a couple of sequels left over from that time you decided to make that entertainment center, and a handful of inexplicable comedies that don’t exactly match anything else. Ahead of the big summer push, it seems that studios use this week as a clearinghouse for movies with decent star power that just won’t make it when the dedicated action bonanza of summer begins.
The Week That Was: Being Right Feels So Wrong.
It turns out I went 3 for 3 last week on predictions…but I don’t feel much like celebrating. Godzilla…Godzilla. Sigh.
Godzilla took a healthy first place last week, as anticipated. It opened at 93 million, just shy of Captain America’s high water mark this year. The hype persuaded many movie goers to trade up to 3-D, greatly increasing the Tokyo Terror’s take at the box office.
Seth Rogen managed another solid weekend with his never-coming-of-age comedy, Neighbors. I predicted it would duplicate the box office sales of his previous man-child with children comedy, Knocked Up, and make 29.7 million. It made 25.
For third place, Amazing Spider-Man 2 underperformed even my modest prediction, making an anemic 16 million. Strong foreign sales will ensure that Sony trots this franchise out again (they’ve got Andrew Garfield locked up for at least one more film,) but I doubt the series has any chance of becoming a staple, at least domestically. Get ready for another instant reboot once Garfield exits the picture.
The Week That Will Be: Predictions.
#3: Blended. Adam Sandler once played Satan’s son in Little Nicky, and demonic powers could be the only explanation for why people keep flocking to see his mean-spirited, unfunny movies. Drew Barrymore has again volunteered to bring some degree of likability to Sandler’s project. Any words of caution will fall on deaf ears, and Blended will make a hefty 25-30 million, in line with Sandler’s other recent outings (outside of the Grown Ups franchise, which performed markedly better at the 40 million dollar range.) If people were willing to pay 25 million to see Jack and Jill, there’s no hope better judgement will occur this time around…
#2: Godzilla. Godzilla may just take a big stumble this week. Better than 50% of its earnings last week came from premium tickets (3-D and Imax) and those kind of numbers rarely remain high in a second weekend. Word of mouth was weak following the premier, and reviews are mixed at best. Those fooled by the marketing that over-sold Bryan Cranston’s role in the film will not likely be queuing up for a second dose. All of that being said, even a 70% drop in sales leaves this monster in a good position. I expect it will manage another 40-50 million this time around.
#1: X-Men, Days of Future Past. Bryan Singer has been up and down with this series since its creation. The franchise started out modestly, taking in 55 million on opening weekend, but that was largely before comic/super hero movies became an unstoppable force. Subsequent films in the series managed to to pull in between 85-100 million, despite receiving pretty mixed reviews. The trend continued until X-Men Origins nearly killed the money machine. Coming off of that fiasco, the soft reboot X-Men First Class dropped back down to the 55 million dollar range. A second Wolverine movie fared about the same. So which X-Men will we see this week? The 55 or the 85? Audiences may have hit saturation on this franchise, and indications that this movie is most likely The Wolverine Story Part 7 won’t help sell the series to new fans. I see it performing better than recent outings, but not greatly so. Expect 65 million in sales to be a victory for the mutant cause.
This week is all over the place. In recent decades, studios have tried to get a jump start on the summer months by releasing big-budget action films. We have several super hero flicks, two Star Wars prequels, the final installment of The Matrix, and a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Additionally, disaster movies have moved well in this period, with Deep Impact and Twister making the list. A few fading action series tried to sneak in early and beat the summer rush, including Die Hard 3, Lethal Weapon 3, and even a Friday the 13th sequel. The unifying trend seems to be discount blockbusters: most of these movies are sequels (even 3rd and 4th efforts) and many of them are sequels to franchises that were definitely past their prime. Had many of these films come out in the summer prime-time, I doubt many of them would have fared nearly as well.
A few fun outliers snuck in this week too. Speaking of disaster movies, its hard to find a bigger disaster than Ishtar. Perhaps everyone’s favorite failure, this movie featuring Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty as lounge singers in the dessert, seems like somebody lost a dare and was forced to produce the most nonsensical movie in history. If you haven’t seen it…consider yourself lucky. I don’t think the boys at Mystery Science Theater would take on this movie willingly.
Perhaps my favorite oddity this week is Spacehunter: Adventure in the Forbidden Zone. Riding a wave of 3-D mania that made a faint ripple in the mid 80’s, this “comedy” is truly bizarre. It contains a cast of second-fiddles, including Michael Ironside as a heavily made-up baddy, Ernie Hudson as the sidekick to a Han Solo-lite Peter Straus (who was in what, again?) and even Molly Ringwald, after Hollywood stopped putting her in teen romances. The story is one part Star Wars, one part Mad Max, and one part lunacy. Part of me wishes that today’s 3-D craze means this film will make it back to a theater, just so I can see it in its original glory.
Information courtesy of Box Office Mojo. Used with permission.