May 25, 2014

Behind the Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 5/25/14


(Note:  Most of the studios aggressively estimated their Sunday declines as being around 10%, even though last year’s Memorial Day Weekend Sunday drops were mostly steeper than that, so there could be a number of downward adjustments in store when final numbers are released.)

OPENINGS:  X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (20th), oddly enough, was the only movie in the Top 10 to accept a 15% Sunday drop, so its $90.7M weekend estimate should hold up pretty well, with $105-110M for the 4-day holiday weekend.  The 18% decline from Friday to Saturday was a bit steeper than 20th may have hoped (even higher than Godzilla‘s 16%), but this was still the 2d-highest opening of the franchise, behind only the $102.8M start for X-Men: The Last Stand in 2006, which was also on Memorial Day Weekend.  Even better news was the massive overseas result:  $171M in every market except Japan and Spain, giving Days the biggest worldwide opening of the year and the biggest in franchise history.  (20th says that where the 3 movies overlapped territories, this was a better opening than the ones for Captain America: The Winter Soldier or The Amazing Spider-Man 2, although those are the kind of statistics studios put in a blender and serve to anyone who’s thirsty.)  If those US/overseas proportions hold, Days could end up with $650M-750M worldwide, easily a new franchise high.

BLENDED (Warners) is nowhere with a $14.2M weekend (probably $17M for the 4-day holiday), and it’s only barely opened overseas so far.  Adam Sandler has 3 movies in various stages of production right now, but two of them are in his “serious” mode (The Cobbler and Men, Women and Children) and the third is animated (Pixels), so it’s not clear when he’ll get the next chance to prove some box office strength.  At age 47, his career appears to have reached a difficult crossroads.  Of course, one reasonable step might be to work with higher-quality writers and directors even when he’s making one of his mainstream comedies, but that’s just a thought.

None of the three indies that expanded to semi-wide release this weekend showed much potential for wide success.  CHEF (Open Road), now in 498 theatres, had a $4500 per-theatre average, while BELLE (Fox Searchlight), in 453, averaged $3750.  THE RAILWAY MAN (Weinstein) fell apart completely in expanding to 600 theatres, with an average that didn’t even hit $1000.

HOLDOVERS:  Something genuinely unexpected happened to GODZILLA (Warners) this weekend.  It wasn’t the 66% weekend drop in the US to $31.4M (probably $38M for the 4-day holiday)–that was heavy, especially when the movie’s 2d weekend included a holiday, but not shocking.  What no one saw coming was its almost immediate collapse overseas, down 67% to $34.5M.  It’s been a crucial tenet of the movie business for the past decade or so that although American audiences might quickly abandon CG epics that weren’t very good, the international audience would keep buying tickets as long as the 3D spectacle was there.  If that’s no longer something the studios can count on, a lot of big-budget calculations may have to be rethought.  Godzilla will still make a huge amount of money–it has China and Japan yet to open, and those should be tremendous markets for it–but now it appears as though the final worldwide result may be around $600M, much less than last weekend seemed to promise.

MILLION DOLLAR ARM (Disney) held very well, down just 33% to $7.1M in the US (probably $9-9.5M by Monday), but those continue to be low numbers that won’t get it anywhere near “sleeper” territory.

NEIGHBORS (Universal) dropped 44% to $13.9M ($17M by Monday), and it’s also made $67.4M overseas.  It will top $200M worldwide, and could get significantly higher depending on its continuing international rollout.

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 (Sony) took a 54% hit to $7.8M ($10M by Monday), and will end up barely topping $200M in the US, down at least 20% from the first Amazing.  It also earned $11.2M overseas, and although it will outgross the first Amazing internationally, it’ll be by relative pennies ($20M or so), not enough to make up for the US shortfall.  Worldwide, Amazing 2, while a profitable and successful piece of business for Sony, will be a depressing step backwards for the franchise, down about 5% instead of shooting upwards as the studio had hoped.  (And Amazing 3 will be a harder sell in general, because of its unavoidable–Spoiler Alert!–major cast change.)

THE OTHER WOMAN (20th), down 42% to $3.7M ($4.7M by Monday) and RIO 2 (20th/Blue Sky), down 33% to $2.5M ($3.5M by Monday) , are holding well, but nearing the end of their runs, which should leave The Other Woman at $85M in the US (and very impressively for an American comedy, even more overseas), and Rio 2 at $130M in the US (and more than $325M overseas, although it’s underperforming worldwide).  HEAVEN IS FOR REAL (TriStar/Sony) and CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (Disney/Marvel) are pretty much done, shedding theatres and each dropping over 50% from last weekend, and both enormous hits in their respective genres with over $90M in the US for Heaven and close to $260M for Captain America 2 (plus $454M overseas), the latter still the year’s biggest movie worldwide for the moment.

FROZEN (Disney) isn’t quite finished hitting milestones:  with $1.219B, it’s now the highest-grossing film of 2013 worldwide, and the 5th-highest grossing movie of all time, moving past Iron Man 3 on both counts.  That’s probably as high as it can go–it’s over $100M behind #4–but the only movies in history to outgross it are Avatar, Titanic, The Avengers and the final Harry Potter.

LIMITED RELEASE:  WORDS AND PICTURES (Roadside) had a civilized if unexciting start with a $9K average at 10 theatres.  THE IMMIGRANT (Weinstein) expanded to 147 with a dull $3K average.  IDA (Music Box) widened to 34 with a $6500 average.  CHINESE PUZZLE (Cohen Media) had a $4500 average at 10.

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."