July 19, 2014

Behind the Friday Box Office – 7/18/14


Even though it’s just mid-July, Guardians of the Galaxy is the only likely blockbuster opening left this summer.  Barring some surprises, the seasonal picture is ugly.

OPENINGS:  THE PURGE: ANARCHY (Universal) took Friday with $13M, but that was $3.8M below the opening day of the first Purge.  The sequel is likely to be at least as frontloaded as its predecessor, so a $26M weekend is probably on the way, and a $50M US total.  Anarchy may still turn a profit, but with higher costs and lower revenues than Purge, and if the pattern continues, the next in the series could well be the last.

PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE (Disney) similarly underperformed, with $6.3M on Friday compared to $8.2M for the opening day of Planes just a year ago.  It’s headed for a $18M weekend and perhaps $75M in the US.  However, the first Planes made 59% of its worldwide total overseas, so it’s there (and in merchandising) that Disney will make its profits–likely a diminishing amount of them, but the Planes franchise is extremely cheap by the standards of big-studio animation, so probably enough to keep the series in the air.

SEX TAPE (Columbia/Sony) is a flat-out disaster, a complete miscalculation by all concerned about what movie audiences wanted to see (and the quality of the movie they made).  Its $5.7M Friday is less than half the $12.2M start of Bad Teacher (which also boasted stars Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, as well as director Jake Kasdan), and it will probably accordingly have a $16M weekend and $50M US total.  Although not a terribly expensive movie, and one that can hope for some foreign success (Bad Teacher made 53% of its total internationally), Sex Tape is unlikely to hit breakeven.

HOLDOVERS:  If DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (20th) can’t do better than a 62% Friday-to-Friday drop, what can?  That’s actually a strong hold these days–Captain America: The Winter Soldier had an opening-day-to-opening-day drop of 68%, and the summer’s blockbusters have all been at 72-77% (Maleficent, though, which opened a bit south of Dawn, had a 58% Friday drop thanks to its family demo)–and it shows how much of the current box office is built around huge opening weekends and then a deep plunge.  (Only Captain America and Maleficent have made as much as 2.5x their opening weekends.)  That’s partly a result of the gigantic (and wildly expensive) pre-release marketing campaigns these movie have–Guardians of the Galaxy ads have already been in high rotation across all television for a week or more, and it doesn’t open for 2 more weeks.  The bigger philosophical question is whether it’s a good thing for audiences to regard movies as things that go stale after 3 days in theatres.  In any case,  Dawn will probably stabilize over the weekend to a 53-55% drop at $33-35M, and should top $200M in the US before it’s done.

None of the other holdovers were close to DawnTRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (Paramount) and TAMMY (Warners) had 44-45% Friday-to-Friday drops and respective box office of $2.7M and $2.3M, heading for $9M and $7M weekends.  Transformers 4 is still on track to lead the summer, but lag behind Captain America and The LEGO Movie for 2014 as a whole; Tammy should end up with $80-85M.  22 JUMP STREET (Columbia/Sony) is holding like a champion, down just 31% on its 6th Friday to $1,4M, on its way to a $4.5M weekend and a total that should top $185M.  MALEFICENT (Disney) is dwindling, with just $950K on Friday, but that’s down just 24% from last Friday, and it will soon be nose-to-nose with X-Men: Days of Future Past for the summer’s #2 slot.

BEGIN AGAIN (Weinstein) increased its theatre count by 40% to 1302, but still fell 12% from last Friday, and may not even have a $2K weekend per-theatre average.  CHEF (Open Road) keeps cooking:  it crossed the $25M mark yesterday, and isn’t quite done yet.

LIMITED RELEASE:  The story, once again, is BOYHOOD (IFC), which expanded beautifully to 34 theatres, and could have as much as a $35K per-theatre average for the weekend.  As was the case last weekend, that’s not quite at the level of The Grand Budapest Hotel, which had a $55K average in 66 theatres, but Boyhood is a very different kind of film, and even being in the same breath as Budapest (which has made $58.9M in the US) is a triumph.  I ORIGINS (Fox Searchlight) had a mild start at 4 theatres, with a likely $8-9K per-theatre weekend average.  WISH I WAS HERE (Focus/Universal) may average an OK $8K at 68 theatres.

NEXT WEEKEND:  If the name “Brett Ratner” is being uttered, we must be nearing the tail end of summer movie season.  His HERCULES (Paramount) is on the way, with Dwayne Johnson as the big guy.  The Rock’s competition comes from Scarlett Johansson, butt-kicking star of Luc Besson’s LUCY (Universal). AND SO IT GOES (Clarius) will court the elderly audience with its pairing of Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton.  In limited release, Woody Allen makes his annual appearance with MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT (Sony Pictures Classics), starring Colin Firth and Emma Stone.  A MOST WANTED MAN (Roadside/Lionsgate) marks one of the final screen appearances of Philip Seymour Hoffman, in a John Le Carre adaptation.

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."