July 19, 2014

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: Another Slow Weekend On the Way


Hollywood’s underwhelming summer box office continues this weekend, with preliminary numbers at Deadline and elsewhere indicating that all three of the newcomers are likely to perform below expectations.

The bleakest news of the weekend, though, may be about its #1 ticket seller.  Despite some of the year’s best reviews, and seemingly everything needed for strong word of mouth, DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (20th) was down 60% from last Friday to $10-11M.  That will moderate over the course of the weekend, and Dawn‘s drop will probably be more like 55% by Sunday, for a weekend around $33M.  It’s by no means a terrible drop by the standards of this year, comparable to the 57% 2d weekend decline for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and better than the year’s other blockbusters (Transformers 4, Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Godzilla), which fell 61-67%.  Still:  if Dawn can’t hold onto its audience despite a slower start than any of those 5, better reviews, and weaker competition, the conclusion seems to be unavoidable that extreme frontloading is a fact of life even for the best Hollywood has to offer.

The weekend’s arrivals are a weak bunch.  THE PURGE:  ANARCHY (Universal) had an opening day around $12M or so, 25% behind the $16.8M start for last year’s Purge.  That movie made half its weekend total on Friday (and more than 25% of its total US box office), and there’s no reason to think the sequel will perform differently, suggesting a $26M weekend and a total around $50M.  Although the Purge series is produced on a low budget, it still carries big-studio marketing costs, which will make it less profitable than the studio will try to make it seem.

PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE (Disney) is similarly about 20% behind the start for last year’s Planes, with a $6.5M opening day compared to $8.2M.  It will probably have a $18M weekend, but like Planes, it faces fairly little competition for the kiddie market in the weeks to come, so it could reach $75M+ by the time it’s done, making its real profits from overseas release and home viewing.

Worst of all was SEX TAPE (Columbia/Sony), which features the same stars (Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel) and director (Jake Kasdan) as Bad Teacher, but isn’t performing anything like the earlier comedy.  It had an ugly $6M opening day, compared to $12.2M for Teacher.  It’s looking at a $16M weekend and perhaps $50M in all.

Holdovers still selling some tickets include TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (Paramount), with $3M on Friday and a $10M weekend, and TAMMY (Warners), earning $2M on Friday for a $7M weekend.

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."