Last weekend was the obvious „calm before the storm“ at the North American box-office, as moviegoers eagerly await the arrival of Iron Man 3 to kick off the summer movie season. For the third time in a row, the box-office declined from the previous weekend, this time 17.9% to $82.3 million for the Top 12, making last weekend the weakest final weekend of April since 2008. Compared to last year, numbers were down 15.2%, even though this year’s number is stronger than last year’s when Think Like a Man topped the chart in its second weekend. After this weak frame, the overall 2013 box-office is 12.4% behind last year. However, even with Iron Man 3’s likely huge opening, don’t expect 2013 to catch up anytime soon – I doubt that Iron Man 3 can top The Avengers’ $207.3 million record-breaking opening weekend.
Paramount’s Pain & Gain topped the quiet weekend with a $20.2 million from 3,277 locations for a decent per-theatre-average of $6,178. The movie, based on real-life events surrounding a gang of bodybuilders being involved in a kidnapping and murdering scheme, became director Michael Bay’s 9th movie to top the box-office and at $26 million, his cheapest film ever since his debut Bad Boys ($17 million). In fact, all of Bay’s movies have opened on top of the box-office with the exception of his biggest (and only) outright flop The Island, which collected a total of $35.8 million on a $126 million budget. Michael Bay, mostly known for large-scale-destruction-epics, has spent six years making nothing but the three Transformers-flicks, which have made him and Paramount a fortune, grossing $358 million on average. Pain & Gain was to be his “small personal” project before plunging back into the Transformers-franchise (with the next entry due next year). While Pain & Gain’s opening makes the film a success based on its budget, it is not extraordinary given the talent involved. Aside from Bay’s name attached to the project, the R-rated flick also boasts a strong cast with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Mark Wahlberg in the leading roles. With a few exceptions, both have proven to be major draws over the past years. In particular Dwayne Johnson has been having a great streak. Ever since Fast Five’s monumental $86.2 million opening. Last year, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island made $103.9 million, this year the modestly budgeted Snitch has thus far grossed $42.3 million on a $22-25 million budget and G.I. Joe: Retaliation pulled in $116.5 million so far. He also has Fast & Furious 6 slated for the Memorial Day weekend. With the cast this strong and Michal Bay’s name attached, a $20 million opening shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. What was surprising, however, was the film’s gender split as 49% of its opening weekend audiences were female – a very surprising outcome for this seemingly male-oriented film. The audiences weren’t very thrilled with the product, awarding it a “C+”-CinemaScore on average. Combined with huge competition it will be getting from Iron Man 3 and likely frontloading, as indicated by the 2% drop on Saturday, the film will vanish from theatres by the end of May. It is looking at a $50-55 million total cume at best.
Relinquishing the top spot in its second round, Oblivion fell 52% to #2 and took in $17.8 million, bringing the sci-fi epic’s running total to $65.1 million after ten days on release. Despite a slightly bigger opening, the film has already fallen behind another sci-fi Tom-Cruise-starrer, Minority Report. It is tracking almost $8.5 million behind it and the gap will definitely widen over the next weeks. The film’s mediocre word-of-mouth (as indicated by the “B-“-CinemaScore) is definitely showing as it suffered a relatively harsh drop despite having no direct competition whatsoever (with both wide openers being rated R). This upcoming weekend things won’t get any better, as Oblivion will face Iron Man 3, which will not only target its audiences directly, but will also cost the Universal-release most of its IMAX screens. As these currently contribute a fair share to the film’s earnings, losing them will be a harsh blow. Another 50+% drop seems inevitable. Two weeks later, Star Trek into Darkness will finish it off. As of now, the film’s chances at $100 million look shaky again, with the final gross in the $90-95 million range appearing to be the more likely outcome. In the end, Oblivion won’t finish much higher than Jack Reacher ($80.1 million), despite carrying twice its budget.
Despite good reviews and glowing WoM, the baseball-biopic 42 isn’t displaying the kind of legs that the “A+”-CinemaScore made me expect initially. The film faced no direct competition last weekend, yet it dipped 39.9% to $10.7 million, enough for #3 at the box-office. Now mind you, it was still a good drop, just mot one you’d expect with such great reception by its audiences and the fact that it added 155 more theatres last weekend. The film stands at $69 million after 17 days, which makes the $40 million-budgeted flick a bona fide success for Warner Bros. It has already become the 4th-biggest baseball-themed movie ever and is tracking $20 million ahead of the Best-Picture-nominated Moneyball. It has also already topped many successful sports dramas such as Coach Carter ($67.3 million), Miracle ($64.4 million) and Friday Night Lights ($61.3 million). After this worse-than-expected hold, $100 million is no longer guaranteed, but it still has a great shot at hitting the mark. Unlike most movies around, 42’s appeal towards older audiences and its exceptional WoM will help it to withstand competition from the big blockbusters in May. Either way, it should get close enough to $100 million for Warner Bros. to push it above, if need be. However, it looks like A League of Their Own will still remain the highest-grossing baseball-themed movie ever with $107.5 million.
Despite its tremendous all-star ensemble, which includes Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Amanda Seyfried, Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams and Diane Keaton, The Big Wedding opened at #4 to mere $7.6 million from 2,633 locations, averaging poor $2,883 per theatre. This opening just goes on to show that Lionsgate often struggles to achieve big success with movies outside of the Tyler Perry-flicks and horror movies. The R-rating didn’t help, what looked like your typical tame wedding-themed comedy either and neither did the film’s ghastly reviews. The audiences (77% female and 66% above 30) didn’t respond kindly to it either, giving it a “C+”-CinemaScore. While Iron Man 3 won’t present direct competition, the film’s poor WoM will make sure that it won’t stick around for long. At latest, The Great Gatsby will kill it in two weeks. The Big Wedding will leave the theatres with $17-19 million in the bank, making this $35 million investment a failure.
The Croods dropped two spots down to #5 in its 6th weekend as it brought in $6.7 million from Friday to Sunday. Down just 27.2%, it had by far the best hold in the entire Top 12 and pushed its running cume to $163.2 million. It has topped Shark Tale to become DreamWorks Animation’s 12th-biggest release ever, though it has fallen behind How to Train Your Dragon by $29 million now. With $200 million well out of reach, the film should still have a smooth sailing throughout May until the arrival of Epic on May 24th. Even then, the competition impact might be offset by the Memorial Day boost. Thanks to that, The Croods should eventually reach $180 million before wrapping up its run.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation finally landed a good hold, dropping just oe spot down to #6 and losing 35.8% of its audiences in the process. An additional $3.7 million over the weekend lifted its current total to $116.5 million. Unlike Oblivion it could benefit from the fact that the two new arrivals were rated R and thus posed no direct competition. However, Iron Man 3 will hit it very hard this weekend, taking away its target audiences and its remaining IMAX-screens. The film is still on course to end up with $122 million.
Taking the #7 spot in its third outing, Scary Movie 5 dropped 44.2% to $3.4 million and brought its current total to $27.5 million. It will also suffer under the arrival of Iron Man 3 and will very quickly vanish from most theaters. It looks like it will end up with $32 million in the bag.
Olympus Has Fallen delivered yet another good hold at the 8th spot. Decreasing 36% to $2.9 million, the film upped its current total gross to $93.2 million after six weeks. The film has far exceeded most expectations thanks to its surprisingly good WoM and it still has a decent shot at $100 million if the new arrivals over the next few weeks won’t cost it too many theatres. Right now, it looks like it will crawl to $99 million. However, I believe that FilmDisctrict will ensure that they have got their first $100 million-hit and will do anything that’s necessary to push Olympus above the barrier.
At #9, The Place Beyond the Pines fell 44.5% to $2.7 million. It has accumulated $16.3 million so far and still looks good to top $20 million, though its legs haven’t been as good as reviews might have suggested. It will be at $23 million by the end of its run.
Jurassic Park 3D finally stabilized, dropping just one spot to #10 and losing 41.4%. Over the weekend, it made $2.4 million, bringing the re-release’s cume to $42.1 million. The film’s lifetime total is now at $399.1 million and this weekend, it will become the 16th movie in box-office history to pass $400 million at the domestic box-office. The re-issue also looks certain to pass the gross of The Phantom Menace 3D, which garnered $43.5 million last year. It will go on to finish with $45 million, showing that 3D re-releases of blockbusters are far from dead.
Roadside Attractions’ Mud surprised with the distributor’s 2nd-best opening ever, making $2.2 million at #11 from 363 venues for a very potent PTA of $6,103. The opening weekend alone makes this drama, starring Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon, Roadside’s 14th-biggest film ever. If the studio plays it right and expands it over the next two weeks, I can even see $10 million being in play as WoM seems to be strong for it.
Evil Dead rounded off the Top 12 with $2 million (down 51.7%) for a total of $51.9 million after 24 days. It has passed the total of another successful horror remake, My Bloody Valentine ($51.5 million). It still looks good for a $55 million total.