June 28, 2014

Behind the Friday Box Office – 6/27/14


On Friday, the big alien robots blew things up.

OPENINGS:  TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (Paramount) got the Friday it was hoping for, the biggest day of 2014 at $41.6M, and one that gives the blockbuster a strong (although not certain) chance to hit the magic $100M mark on Sunday.  In addition, Transformers 4 earned $52M on Friday overseas (giving it $80M with some territories that opened earlier in the week), of which $30M was from China alone, where it might have the country’s biggest-ever opening weekend.  So, good times!  Let’s note a couple of things, though.  For one, Transformers 4 was actually way down from the $62M opening day for the 2d movie in the franchise (which opened on a Wednesday in 2009), although it was a bit ahead of the $37.7M opening (also on a Wednesday) for Transformers 3 in 2011.  Also, the economics of Transformers 4 are more difficult than for any other major franchise, because Paramount has to pay out big money off the top to Hasbro (for the rights), to DreamWorks (which co-produced the first movie), to Steven Spielberg (who serves as an Executive Producer and takes a handsome and eternal fee for that service), to Michael Bay (of course) and probably to franchise newcomer Mark Wahlberg.  Even $1B starts to slim down pretty fast once those players get their pieces.  Plus the downside of being gigantic in China is that US movie studios are only allowed to retain about 25% of that country’s ticket sale revenue (compared to 55% in the US), so even a record-breaking Chinese result isn’t as profitable as it looks.  None of this is to say that Transformers is anything but a huge hit that will make money for everyone–just that it’s not the bonanza it may appear to be.

HOLDOVERS:  With the exception of a few titles aimed at non-Transformers audiences, most movies in the market got hit by the new arrival.  22 JUMP STREET (Columbia/Sony) went down 46% from last Friday to $5M, although by Sunday it should have moved past 21 Jump‘s $138.4M US total, and end up with $160M+.  HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (DreamWorks Animation/20th) continues to disappoint, down another 46% from last week to $4.1M on Friday, and likely to reach only about $160M in the US, down as much as 30% from the first Dragon.  MALEFICENT (Disney) held up best of the current blockbusters thanks to its younger and more female target demo, down just 35% to $2.6M on Friday, and due to pass $200M by Sunday.  EDGE OF TOMORROW (Warners) took a 48% hit to $1.6M, on its way to a $95M US total.  X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (20th) is approaching the end of its run, down 49% to $950K but still (for now) the summer’s biggest hit at $221M, with a $230M final total likely.  The chances of GODZILLA (Warners) reaching $200M in the US seem to be diminishing, as the monster dropped 59% to just $230K on Friday, with $196.3M in the bank so far.

Neither of last weekend’s openings held up well.  That wasn’t a surprise for the front-loaded THINK LIKE A MAN TOO (Screen Gems/Sony), which plunged 72% to $3.4M on Friday, on its way to a $10M weekend and no more than $70M as its US total, down 20% or more from the first Think.  The 52% drop for JERSEY BOYS (Warners) to $2.3M, however, was less expected, since with its older audience it was supposed to have far more staying power.  It may reach $7M for the weekend and $40M for its entire run.

The happiest Friday results zigged where Transformers zags.  Along with Maleficent, the female-skewing THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (20th) held well, down 41% to $1.9M, with a $5M weekend likely that will put it near $110M.  And CHEF (Open Road) continues to be a word-of-mouth phenomenon, down an incredible 9% on its 8th Friday, with $435K in just 801 theatres, and on its way to a $1.5M weekend that will pull it near $20M in all.

LIMITED RELEASE:  One indie decided to counterprogram Transformers from 3 directions, with modest success.  BEGIN AGAIN (Weinstein) might have a pleasing $30K per-theatre average for the weekend at 5 music halls in NY and LA.  SNOWPIERCER (Weinstein), despite rapturous reviews, is having a tougher time, with perhaps a $20K average at 8.  And YVES ST. LAURENT (Weinstein) is heading for a $12K average at 2.  In addition, the conservative agit-prop “documentary” AMERICA (Lionsgate) is off to a slow start prior to its wide release next week (for the 4th of July, naturally), with a $15K weekend average at 3.

NEXT WEEKEND:  By and large, the big studios are conceding the holiday weekend to Transformers.  The biggest new competition will be the counterprogramming Melissa McCarthy comedy TAMMY (Warners), while DELIVER US FROM EVIL (Screen Gems/Sony) goes after the horror crowd, EARTH TO ECHO (Relativity) chases families, and as noted, America targets its particular adherents.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."