June 11, 2016

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “Warcraft” Fights Overseas, “Conjuring” & “Now You See Me” Sequels OK


The most interesting box office story of the weekend is WARCRAFT (Legendary/Universal).  It’s a dud in the US, with $11M on Friday according to preliminary numbers at Deadline, which with its frontloaded fan audience probably means a $25M or so weekend and a domestic total that may not reach $75M.  That’s not much on a movie with $275M+ in production/marketing costs.  But Warcraft is on fire in China, where it reportedly earned $90M in the first 2 days of a 5-day holiday opening, with $200M+ possible by the end of the weekend.  All things being equal, US studios much prefer to make their money here, where they retain more than twice the percentage of ticket revenue that China allows foreign productions to keep.  (Even though Legendary is owned by the Chinese Wanda firm, and other Chinese financiers were involved as well, Warcraft is reportedly considered a US product.)  But at those numbers, the studio will gladly take what China allows, and the result may be a new model for profitability even for a high-priced action spectacle.

THE CONJURING 2 (New Line/RatPac/Warners) is reversing the recent tide of sequel disappointments, although it’s at the modest other end of the box office spectrum from giant efforts like Alice Through the Looking Glass or X-Men: Apocalypse.  Its $16M opening day is just slightly off the pace of the first Conjuring‘s $17M, and although as a squel it will probably be more frontloaded than its sleeper predecessor, it should top $35M for the weekend, not far off the $41.9M opening of the first Conjuring, and a likely to be profitable start for a production with around $100M in total costs.

NOW YOU SEE ME 2 (Summit/Lionsgate) isn’t quite as strong, with a $8M opening day that’s down about 20% from the $10.1M start for the first Now.  With sequel frontloading, that may mean a $22M weekend, compared to $29.4M.  Now 2 cost considerably more than the original (around $200M in total costs), and it’s unlikely to have that original’s 4x multiple of its opening weekend.  So this is potentially a more problematic situation.  However, Now 2 has been aimed at the Asian market, with much of the action taking place in (a mostly soundstage) Macau, so it may prove to be lopsided toward foreign revenue as well.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS (Nickelodeon/Movie Media Group/Alibaba/Paramount) leads the holdovers, but only by default.  It crashed by 70% from last Friday to $3.7M, and is headed for a $13M weekend and a US total around $85M, far below the first movie’s $191.2M.

X-MEN: APOCALYPSE (TSG/20th) continues to run 30% or more behind Days of Future Past, down 54% from last Friday to $3M, and heading for a $11M weekend and $160M US total, on the lower end of the X-Men franchise and not likely to see much profit.

ME BEFORE YOU (MGM/New Line/RatPac/Warners) proved to be frontloaded, probably with fans of the novel, and it fell 62% from last Friday to $3M.  It may reach $10M for the weekend and $60M as a US total, its profitability still questionable because of its expensive marketing campaign.

POPSTAR: NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING (Perfect World/Universal) didn’t benefit from any good word of mouth, collapsing by 71% from last Friday to $500K.  It won’t reach $15M in the US, and with extremely questionable overseas appeal, it’s a dead loss.

THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE (Rovio/Columbia/Sony) is still flapping its wings, down 27% from last Friday to $1.9M, with a $7.5M weekend on the way.  However, with the arrival of Finding Dory just a few days away, it’s not going to get much higher than $115M in the US, considerably below Hotel Transylvania‘s animated mid-level success of $148.3M, and with so-so franchise prospects.

The two indies in semi-wide release are holding well.  LOVE & FRIENDSHIP (Amazon/Roadside) dipped 35% Friday-to-Friday to $400K (at 826 theatres), and will be in hailing distance of $10M by the end of the weekend.  THE LOBSTER (A24) was down 42% to $200K (at 560) and will cross the $5M mark this weekend.  Neither title, though, seems to have the legs for much further expansion, with weekend averages at the $1500 level.

A new pair of indies entered the market to unspectacular results:  GENIUS (Roadside) should average $5K for the weekend at 16 theatres, and DEPALMA (A24) should have a $8K average at 3.



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."