July 14, 2013



OPENINGS:  Despite the strong weekend, it’s a bit troubling that GROWN UPS 2 (Sony) fell 11% on Saturday (the original Grown Ups rose 2% on its 2d day), suggesting frontloading and less than great word of mouth.  That may place the studio’s estimated Sunday drop of 21% and $42.5M weekend total in doubt, but we’ll find out tomorrow.  In any case, the movie successfully broke Adam Sandler’s losing streak (and Sony’s, too), but with a production/marketing budget that will total around $200M, the movie still needs to hold its audience to reach much of a profit.

The speculation last week was that Legendary Entertainment was desperate to announce its new deal with Universal before the box office for PACIFIC RIM (Warners/Legendary) hit, because the sci-fi epic was one of the few for which Legendary put up the majority of the production budget (reportedly 75%) and took the creative lead.  That was successfully accomplished, but the games continue, as the movie’s estimates seem somewhat attenuated. The very frontloaded genre item fell 13% on Saturday, yet Warners and Legendary are only claiming a 15% drop on Sunday (lowest in the Top 10 by far) to reach a purported $38.3M weekend.  The truth is that even if that number holds, the movie is in serious trouble.  It’s unlikely to get much beyond $100M in the US, and made $53M in territories covering half the world over the weekend, which means its ceiling overseas may be around $300M.  Since studios only keep a fraction of actual ticket prices, a $400M worldwide total will make Pacific Rim a loser on $350M in production/marketing costs.

HOLDOVERS:  DESPICABLE ME 2 (Universal) continues to be everything Universal could have wished.  It won the weekend with $44.8M, and was also the #1 movie overseas with $55.7M.  That gives it a worldwide total so far of $472.4M, on a production/marketing cost of $200M, and there’s still hundreds of millions in revenue ahead.

In case there was any doubt that THE LONE RANGER (Disney) was a disaster, the western thudded to a 62% drop in the US ($11.1M), and only $12.7M in overseas markets covering about one-third of the world.  With just $119.1M earned worldwide so far, there’s a real question of whether it will even match John Carter‘s $282.8M worldwide total, a movie that led to Disney writing off a $200M loss.  Embarrassingly, the short-term play LET ME EXPLAIN (Lionsgate) had a better hold, down 50% for a $5M weekend and $26.4M total.

The Disney news was better for MONSTERS UNIVERSITY (Disney/Pixar), which earned $10.6M in the US (down 46%) and $30.2M overseas (covering most of the world) for a worldwide total of $474.2M.  It seems to be heading for a $600-650M global total, better than Brave, Cars 2 and the original Monsters Inc, although not at the high reaches of Pixar’s numbers.

THE HEAT (20th) held very well, down just 44% in the US for $112.4M so far.  (It’s overseas release has barely begun.)

WORLD WAR Z (Paramount) continues to struggle toward profitability.  It now seems unlikely to reach $200M in the US (it’s at $177.1M after a $9.4M weekend), and may get to $300M overseas (it has $246M after a $22M weekend).  With its enormous $400M+ costs, a $500M global return might just get it to breakeven.  MAN OF STEEL (Warners) is slowing, down to a $4.8M weekend in the US ($280.1M total–it won’t get to $300M) and $13.3M overseas ($338.2M–with only Japan left to open, it may not reach $400M).  A $675M worldwide total is a success, but not a particularly impressive one in the world of mega-budgeted economics ($75M below the rebooted The Amazing Spider-Man), so the ball is in Warners’ court about what to do next with the franchise.

LIMITED RELEASE:  FRUITVALE STATION (Weinstein) proved to be all too timely this weekend, and it had a superb start with a $54K average in 7 theatres.  It’s crass to say so, but if anyone can successfully exploit mournful current events at the box office, it’s Harvey Weinstein, and sometimes he uses his powers for good:  Fruitvale is an enormously valuable film for people to see right now.  THE WAY, WAY BACK (Fox Searchlight) had a solid if unspectacular expansion to 79 theatres with a $14K average.  The documentary 20 FEET FROM STARDOM (TWC/Weinstein) expanded well to 131 theatres with a $3800 average.  UNFINISHED SONG (Weinstein) was less impressive with a $2700 average at 91.  CRYSTAL FAIRY (IFC–also on VOD) stirred some interest with a $12K average at 2.


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."