June 1, 2013



There’s so much product in the marketplace right now that overall numbers for the summer movie season seem fairly robust–but looked at title by title, we see two blockbusters (Iron Man 3 and Fast & Furious 6) and then a lot of films that will be happy to hit breakeven.

OPENINGS:  Expectations were low for AFTER EARTH (Sony), but they weren’t low enough.  The opening day $9.8M (including $1M from Thursday night) puts it on target for a $27M or so weekend, which (other than his occasional “serious movie”) would be Will Smith’s worst opening since the $27.7M for Wild Wild West in 1999.  The picture could still recover a bit if it plays as a family movie today, and if it overperforms internationally (as Smith’s movies typically do), it might even climb its way up to recovering its $250-275M (including marketing) cost.  But that would be the best case scenario.  Incidentally, spin-monsters who are trying to stick M. Night Shyamalan with the blame for this are both inaccurate and classless–while Shyamalan’s direction certainly didn’t rescue After Earth, he wasn’t the one calling the shots here.  That was producer/story writer/star Smith, and the responsibility belongs squarely with him.

It’s not every day that a Jesse Eisenberg movie beats a Will Smith vehicle, but yesterday was that day, as NOW YOU SEE IT (Summit/Lionsgate) showed some decent strength with a $10.1M Friday (including $1.5M for Thursday night) that should get it to $29M or so for the weekend.  Lionsgate only has the film in the US and selected other territories, and has sold off $50M of its production cost, putting the studio on the hook for only about $75M (including marketing), and there’s every reason to think it’ll make its way to profit.

HOLDOVERS:  Everything got walloped compared to last week’s holiday weekend.  Even FAST & FURIOUS 6 (Universal) fell 73% from last Friday to $10.5M, and seems headed to around $35M for the weekend and $240M total in the US, up about 15% from Fast Five.  FF6 also cost somewhat more than Five, so the profit margin may not be higher this time around, but with very strong overseas returns ($259.4M alrady), it’ll certainly be at least as strong.

THE HANGOVER PART III (Warners) was down 64% Friday-to-Friday (which is worse than it sounds, because it had opened on Thursday) to $5.2M, with a $15M weekend and $120M US total likely, less than half Hangover 2‘s $254.5M.  Warners will have to hold onto the international returns for dear life.

EPIC (20th), still the only animated movie in theatres, looked comparatively steady with a 56% Friday-to-Friday drop to $4.2M, on its way to a $15M weekend as it tries to reach $100M in the US.  That won’t pay the bills, however, so strong international overperformance will be needed.

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (Paramount) fell 56% from last Friday to $4.4M, and is now firmly behind 2009’s Star Trek after the same number of days in US release ($169.2M vs $176M).  It’s probably going to end up at around $210M, well behind Star Trek‘s $257M US total, and while overseas will be stronger this time (Darkness is already at $102M, while Star Trek‘s overseas total was $128M), it may not be enough to justify Darkness‘s higher production and marketing costs.

IRON MAN 3 (Disney) fell 57% from last Friday and is running out of steam, heading for an $8M weekend, but it should still get to $400M in the US (plus, of course, double that amount overseas).  THE GREAT GATSBY (Warners) slipped 51% to what should be a $6M weekend and $140M US total–it still requires some big-time international results (only $85.6M so far) to reach break-even.  MUD (Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate) once again had the best hold of the day, down just 32% from last Friday despite losing 20% of its theatres.  It’ll be at about $17M by the end of the weekend, as it continues to try and reach $20M.

LIMITED RELEASE:  Both THE EAST (Fox Searchlight) and THE KINGS OF SUMMER (CBS) had moderate debuts in 4 theatres each, with weekend averages that should be around $16-17K.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson/Google product placement comedy THE INTERNSHIP (20th) will try to fight its way past what must be soft tracking numbers with public “sneak previews” tonight.  THE PURGE (Universal) will counterprogram everyone with low-budget horror starring Ethan Hawke and Queen Cersei herself, Lena Headey.  The major limited release is Joss Whedon’s enchanting black-and-white film of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (Lionsgate).




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."