July 6, 2013



It’s a best of times, worst of times kind of weekend for the newcomers.

OPENINGS:  DESPICABLE ME 2 (Universal) is everything its makers could have wanted at the box office.  With a $30.2M Friday, it should have $140M in the US by Sunday (it won’t match the $97.9M Independence Day weekend of Transformers 3, but that movie had the advantage of a boosted Sunday because the 4th fell on a Monday) and at least that much overseas (where it still has some major markets yet to open).  It should blow past the $543M worldwide total of the original Despicable.

If you’re the studio, you have to take the big picture view of THE LONE RANGER (Disney).  Yes, after a $10.7M Friday, it’s clear the movie is a disaster that will struggle to get past $100M in the US, and even major overperformance internationally (not a sure thing because it’s a western) won’t make enough of a difference to turn the tide.  But let’s say Disney has to write off $100M on the picture–in fact, as a worst-case scenario, let’s make it $200M, a John Carter-sized fiasco.  The long view for Disney is that in part by making Lone Ranger, the studio got Johnny Depp to commit to a 5th Pirates of the Caribbean installment (due in 2015), which will likely make over $1B worldwide, with perhaps $400M+ in profit for the studio.  Even if the Lone Ranger losses are deducted from that, Disney still ends up several hundred million dollars ahead of where it would have been without either of the movies.  And in the even bigger picture, the next time a Depp-sized star tells Disney (or another studio) about an insanely expensive passion project he or she wants to make, the studio can point to Lone Ranger and say “Not again.” 

Kevin Hart’s LET ME EXPLAIN (Lionsgate) is doing very nicely, considering its 876-theatre opening.  With $3.7M on Friday, it should have $17.5M by Sunday and be on its way to well over $30M, a fine total for a movie with tiny production and marketing costs.

HOLDOVERS:  The holiday weekend was mostly kind to the market’s veterans.  THE HEAT (20th) should be down only about 30% from last week’s opening, and depending on whether Adam Sandler’s Grown-Ups 2 dents it next weekend (a comedy, but aimed at a different subset of audience) Heat could be on its way to $150M.  WHITE HOUSE DOWN (Sony) was down more sharply, and even though a 45% drop for the weekend isn’t bad, it still does nothing for a movie that will desperately need overseas help to ever reach breakeven.

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY (Disney/Pixar) was inevitably damaged by the arrival of Despicable 2, and may fall 45% for the weekend for $220M through Sunday, but it still seems like a good bet to surpass last year’s Brave (which ended up with $237.3M in the US. WORLD WAR Z (Paramount) slipped only 30% from last Friday, and has an outside shot of hitting $200M in the US–although this is another movie in need of major international success (so far it’s at $135.3M overseas) to get out of red ink.  MAN OF STEEL (Warners) fell 35% from last Friday, and still seems likely to run out of gas before reaching $300M in the US–once again, it’s the international result that will really count, and it’s at $271.7M overseas.

LIMITED RELEASE:  The only significant opening this weekend is THE WAY, WAY BACK (Fox Searchlight), which is headed for a solid but not exceptional $30K average at 19 theatres.

NEXT WEEKEND:  Two very different genres are represented, although both movies seem aimed mostly at men:  Adam Sandler’s sequel GROWN-UPS 2 (Sony), which both actor and studio desperately need to perform after recent stumbles, and PACIFIC RIM (Warners), a very expensive bet in the not-exactly fresh field of giant CG beings heaving each other around.  Sundance winner FRUITVALE STATION (Weinstein), will also arrive in limited release, a somewhat curious scheduling choice for a film that could be in the mix for awards consideration.



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."