It’s not often that you see the monthly box-office record being broken on two weekends in a row, but that is precisely what happened last weekend. After Man of Steel’s record June opening weekend led to the highest Top 12 gross on a June-weekend ever as well as to the 17th-biggest weekend of all-time, the monstrous combined openings of Monsters University and World War Z led to an incredible increase of 17.7% over the previous frame and a $232.4 million cume for the Top 12. Not only was it, by far, the highest aggregated Top 12 gross in June ever, it was also the second-biggest weekend of the year (trailing the Memorial Day-weekend) and the 8th-biggest weekend of all-time. Of course, with $190 million spent by the moviegoers for the newest Pixar film, World War Z and Man of Steel, most holdovers took a severe beating and dropped considerably from last weekend. The box-office was up 47.7% from the same weekend last year, when Pixar’s Brave ruled the charts. Overall, the 2013 box-office has noa almost caught up to last year, tracking only 2.6% behind 2012.
Monsters University took the top spot in a storm, delivering a strong $82.4 million from 4,004 venues for an average of $20,587 per theatre. It became Pixar’s 14th-straight #1 debut (a perfect track record so far) and their second-highest opener ever, trailing only Toy Story 3’s $110.3 million opening three years ago. Only two more animated films opened higher than Monsters University- Shrek 2 and Shrek the Third. It is an impressive opening going by all the numbers, though I would argue that it is definitely not a very surprising one. There is little doubt that in Hollywood, there is probably no brand right now as popular, beloved and, most of all, consistent as Pixar. Their openings track record is proof of that. While Pixar hasn’t dabbled much in sequels territory so far (Monsters University is their 4th sequel), the results have been rather positive. Toy Story 2 grossed $245.9 million back in 1999, becoming the 2nd-biggest animated flick of all-time back then, Toy Story 3 did the same 11 years later with $415 million. Cars 2 failed to outgross its predecessor (due to being the first Pixar flick with mediocre/bad reviews), but it still outopened it ($66.1 million vs, $60.1 million). While Cars 2 followed one of the least-liked Pixar flicks, Monsters University is a sequel to one of their most beloved. Back in 2001, Monsters Inc. opened to $62.6 million and went on to gross a tremendous $255.9 million (the 3D re-release last December added another $34 million). Its multiplier came it at almost 4.1, suggesting great word-of-mouth. In fact, even not accounted for 3D, Monsters Inc. adjusts to $358 million nowadays (adjusted for inflation) and its opening to $87.8 million. Even unadjusted for inflation and disregarding the re-issue, Monsters Inc. still stands at Pixar’s 5th-biggest film ever domestically (behind Toy Story 3, Finding Nemo, Up and The Incredibles). After Cars 2’s disappointment and mixed WoM, many feared that Pixar’s brand might have been tarnished and their draw diminished. However, last year’s Brave proved the doubters wrong, opening to $66.3 million (despite going up against Madagascar 3’s third weekend) and finishing with $237.3 million. It won Pixar their 7th “Best Animated Picture”-Oscar too. Pixar was as strong as ever and Monsters University, while arriving slightly under the radar, performed just as it should have been expected to perform. One also needs to consider that there hasn’t been a really successful animated film ever since The Croods back in March (Epic disappointed last month with a total just above $100 million). In tune with the downwards trend of 3D, it made only 31% of its weekend gross from stereoscopic showings. Around 56% of the film’s audiences were female and, expectedly, 60% were below the age of 25.
While the opening weekend was strong and the film scored a great “A”-CinemaScore from its audiences, it will still have a hard time over the upcoming weeks. While thisn upcoming weekend will present no competition, it will face the likely behemoth Despicable Me 2 in its third round, over the July 4th-weekend. Just two weeks later, DreamWorks’ Turbo will attempt to claim its audiences and at the beginning of August, it’ll have to fend off The Smurfs 2. It has some undeniably hard times ahead of itself. Legs akin to those of Cars 2 appear to be the worst-case-scenario, though I doubt that will happen, given Monsters University’s significantly better WoM and reviews. A longevity similar to that of Brave and WALL-E should be more likely. The legs of those films would put the sequel in the $290-295 million range. It will all depend on how hard Despicable Me 2 will hit it. Right now, I expect it to top $250 million, but anything beyond that is a wild card. It could come in anywhere around $265-290 million. Even at worst, it should still outgross Monsters Inc.’s original run and place itself among Pixar’s five biggest films.
Monsters University was the weekend’s biggest performer, but not the most surprising one. That honor goes to the long-delayed, reshoots-plagued World War Z which bowed to $66.4 million at #2. It missed The Day After Tomorrow’s long-standing record of the biggest opening weekend that did not reach #1 by mere $2.3 million. From 3,607 venues it averaged $18,412. On top of that, it finally beat Mr. & Mrs. Smith as Brad Pitt’s highest opener. In retrospect, it should have looked like a surefire hit. Brad Pitt is a major star (whose drawing powers are rarely tested as he often chooses more arts-y and less mainstream projects), zombies are more popular than ever thanks to “The Walking Dead” and the subgenre of apocalyptic movies on a worldwide scale has yielded many success stories in the past. However, the film’s very troubled production, which led to a rumored budget increase from $150 million to more than $220 million, made it seem unlikely for it to succeed. Good reviews, strong marketing and, afterall, the PG-13-rating turned it all around and helped the film to deliver on its box-office potential. The opening weekend alone elevated World War Z to the 2nd spot of the most successful zombie flicks ever (behind Zombieland’s $75.6 million). Word-of-mouth seems overly positive too, with the movie scoring a “B+”-CinemaScore. What’s surprising (and possibly a testament to Brad Pitt’s starpower) is that 51% of the film’s audiences were female. Around 67% were 25 or older. The only negative aspect comes from the film’s 3D share, which came in at a meager 34% - the lowest ever for an action-oriented film. The upcoming weeks will present a lot of action competition, courtesy of White House Down, Pacific Rim, RED 2 and R.I.P.D., so that even with positive WoM, World War Z won’t be able to show much longevity. At worst, it should still reach a 2.5 multiplier, though (thanks to summer weekdays) and thus a total gross above $165 million. I think it will end up in the $165-180 million range, with a small shot at topping Mr. & Mrs. Smith’s $186.3 million total to become Pitt’s biggest film to date.
Faced with such humongous competition as well as plagued by more mixed WoM than Warner Bros. hoped for, Man of Steel plunged 64.6% and settled at #3 with $41.3 million. In other words: after the 15th-highest opening weekend of all-time, it can now only claim the 45th-highest second-weekend gross. On the upside, it passed the $200 million-mark in just ten days, bringing its running total to $210.1 million by the end of its second weekend. It has already passed the $220.1 million total gross of 2006’s Superman Returns and the speed at which it achieved that should be considered a great success. On the downside, its harsh drop is worse than for most recent comic book adaptations (even sequels and Man of Steel, is technically not a sequel). For comparison, Iron Man 3 dropped 58.4% in its second weekend whereas The Dark Knight Rises lost 61.4%. Last summer-released comic book film to drop this badly was 2011’s Green Lantern, which lost 66.1% of its opening weekend audiences in its second round. Of course, the fact that it was confronted with two widely appealing openers that pulled a combined $149 million played a major role in Man of Steel’s steep decline, but it could not have been the only factor. Had the film’s WoM been strong enough, it would have withstood the competition better. While it did score an “A-”-CinemaScore in its opening weekend, it should be noted that opening weekend CinemaScores for fanbase-driven movies are often inflated. Iron Man 2, for instance, had an “A”-CinemaScore and its WoM is considered mediocre in retrospect. With a drop this harsh, even $300 million is no longer guaranteed for Man of Steel, even though the probability of it making it there is higher than of it failing. White House Down will provide some direct competition this weekend, whereas The Lone Ranger will target its audiences directly the weekend after. In its fifth weekend, it will lose most of its IMAX screens to Pacific Rim, though with both being WB-releases, Man of Steel could still see a slight boost that weekend. If one thing is clear by now then that it’s definitely not passing $300 million by much. I believe that if it gets close to $300 million (within less than $5 Million), Warner will push it, just like it did with Superman Returns when it approached the $200 million-barrier. Therefore, I still very much expect it to make it there and finish with $300-305 million. Ironically that’d make Man of Steel the third movie falling in this range that was produced by Warner Bros. (out of a total five movies that would be in that range), with the other two being Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
After a potent opening, This is the End held surprisingly great in its sophomore frame, making $13.3 million (down 35.9%) from Friday to Sunday for a 12-day-total of $58.1 million. Like most R-rated comedies do in the summer, This is the End could really benefit from immensely strong weekdays. While the gap between This is the End and the similar Pineapple Express was at $8.5 million by the end of their first weekend, it is now down to $4.5 million as This is the End is catching up well, whereas Pineapple Express dropped almost 58% in its second weekend. With The Heat on the horizon, This is the End might experience a hit as it will be another major R-rated comedy entering the marketplace. However, it is fair to assume that the combination of Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in The Heat will appeal strongly to women, whereas This is the End is aimed squarely at men, so the two might actually co-exist well. At this point, outgrossing Pineapple Express’ $87.3 million is a given. In fact, it will do so by mid-July. It also still has a decent shot at $100 million as long as Grown Ups 2 doesn’t hit it too hard next month and as long as it will be able to keep its screens long enough. Either way, it will end up somewhere in the $95-105 million range, making it one of this summer’s biggest surprises so far, alongside The Great Gatsby and Now You See Me.
Meanwhile, Now You See Me continued its tremendous performance with a superb 28.5% decline (2nd-best in the Top 10), which placed it 5th and gave it $7.9 million over the weekend, In just 24 days, the magicians caper brought its cume to $94.5 million – higher than most expected its final gross to be before it came out. It will soon become Summit Entertainment’s first non-Twilight feature to gross more than $100 million and even if you also account for Lionsgate’s film (Lionsgate has recently acquired Summit), Now You See Me is still on track to finish with more than any of their films except for The Hunger Games. The WoM on the movie is terrific and it is probably one of the summer’s biggest crowd pleasers. At this point, $120 million is a lock and therefore an opening-to-total multiplier of 4. In fact, I think it is heading towards a $124 million finish and a multiplier above 4.2. I wouldn’t be too surprised to read a sequel announcement soon.
Fast & Furious 6 suffered under the onslaught of competition and dropped two spots and 48.5% to $4.9 million and #6 at the box-office. After five weeks on release, the action sequel boasts a $228.6 million cume, making it Universal’s 10th-biggest film ever domestically (as it passed The Bourne Ultimatum). The movie will soon start losing screens and theatres quickly and will be hit hard again this weekend by action-heavy competition from White House Down. I doubt it will get a chance to recover in July, with other action flicks such as R.I.P.D., RED 2 and Pacific Rim targeting for its demographics. It should find its way to a $239 million total, which still means a surprisingly decent 2.45 multiplier for the flick.
The Purge placed 7th as it dived another 56.9% to $3.6 million, bringing its running cume to $59.6 million after 17 days in theatres. For a horror thriller budgeted at $3 mllion, it is a humongous cume, though the frontloading and the bad WoM are obvious. Despite summer weekdays, it will fail to reach a multiplier of 2 – which is incredibly bad for a summer release. Even The Happening managed a multiplier just above 2. The Purge is on track to finish with $66 million in the bank when all is said and done.
The Internship went down another 52.4% to $3.4 million and the 8th spot at the box-office. In 17 days the comedy has accumulated a disappointing $38.3 million. It should go no further than $45 million, making it Shawn Levy’s lowest-grossing movie ever and proving that Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn are not the bona fide box-office draws that they were right after Wedding Crashers.
Star Trek into Darkness dropped one slot down to #9 and eased 49.4% in the process. It took in $3.2 million over the three-day-period and pushed the film’s running cume to $216.8 million. It is now just around $41 million away from its predecessor’s final cume, though it has no chance of reaching it. One must admit, though, that Star Trek into Darkness at least delivered respectable legs after its release, indicating very positive WoM, which should lead it to a $225 million finish
Thanks to a studio-related boost (due to Monsters University’s release), Iron Man 3 had the weekend’s best hold with a decline of 25.2% and held on to #10. It added $2.2 million to its total, bringing its cume to $403.2 million. It has passed Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’s total gross to become the 15th-biggest film, ever domestically. It remains to be seen, whether it will be able to pass The Hunger Games’ $408 million total to become the 13th-highest grosser domestically. Right now, I see it winding down with pretty much exactly $408 million.
Sofia Coppola’s 5th feature, The Bling Ring, expanded from five theatres to 650 and jumped right into the Top 12, at #11. It made $2 million over the weekend, for a PTA $3,080. Including its limited run, it has made $2.3 million so far. It has already outgrossed Coppola’s last film, Somewhere, but I don’t expect long legs here. A $6 million finish looks likely.
At last, Epic suffered the bitter consequences of facing Monsters University and dropped an awful 71.5% to $1,8 million as it fell five spots from #7 to #12. With $101 million in the bank, it doesn’t have much gas left in the tank and will wrap up its run with $106 million.