Although Twentieth Century Fox’s “The Wolverine,” the week’s sole wide opener, performed a good deal below predictions, the overall weekend was encouraging as the uneven (and very expensive) summer continues to play out. Grosses for the top 10 came in at around $152 million, a big jump from last year’s $124 million (where the #1 film was the second weekend of “The Dark Knight Rises”). Decent-grossing newcomer “The Wolverine” played its part, but the overall strength comes from several films holding well (the #2-6 films dropped between 36 and 48% from last weekend). With several significant August openings ahead, the summer could still end up ahead of last year’s, but not likely quite enough to boost the year total.
Beyond the Top Ten, in which Weinstein’s expanding “Fruitvale Station” scored a slot, several other less wide releases are showing good reaction. Fox Searchlight’s “The Way, Way Back” ended up #11 with $3.3 million in 886 theaters, having already grossed almost $9 million. CBS Films opened their teenage coming-of-age film “The To Do List” at a narrower 591 theaters with a $1,535,000 result for a passable $2,597 per screen average; if it builds good word of mouth this low-budget film could turn into a success.
The biggest news though came from Woody Allen and Cate Blanchett, whose “Blue Jasmine” opened in six New York/Los Angeles theaters for a year’s best opening average of over $100,000 per screen ($613,000 total), better even that Allen’s major 2011 success with “Midnight in Paris.” (Stay tuned for full details in Arthouse Audit.)
1. The Wolverine (20th Century-Fox) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 61
$55,000,000 in 3,924 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $14,016; Cumulative: $55,000,000
To put things in context, this marks the 9th biggest weekend opener of 2013. Compared to “Star Trek Into Darkness,” which opened to $70 million earlier in this incredibly crowded sci-fi/fantasy genre summer with somewhat better reviews, “The Wolverine” is weak, especially as it had the benefit of opening with no first weekend competition. The past “X-Men” series history includes the $85 million opening — absent the 3-D boost for this entry — for Hugh Jackman’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” This gross is about the same as the non-Jackman “X-Men: First Class” two years ago, which led pre-opening predictions for this go round to be closer to $75 million. Thus, a clear disappointment at home. But the initial international returns – $86 million, for a combined total of $141 million, are more encouraging.
The production, though expensive ($120 million), falls below some of the other superproductions of the summer. It is by far the biggest opening for James Mangold, whose last film “Knight and Day” thrived internationally to reach $261 million, and whose earlier films include “3:10 to Yuma” and “Walk the Line.” Hugh Jackman scored his biggest non-“X Men” success with “Les Miserables” earlier this year.
What comes next: Foreign for series’ entries has come in as just a bit better than domestic, but the heavy Asian cast and setting for this one might help boost its draw in China and Japan, the second and third biggest markets in the world, which are still to open. If domestic word of mouth is decent and this can triple its opening weekend (the normal gauge of an successful hold) and foreign can increase, this could still end up as a success for Fox. The next entry is already in production, and they hope to continue the series into the future.
2. The Conjuring (Warner Bros.) Week 2 – Last weekend: #1
$22,130,000 (-47%) in 3,022 theaters (+119); PSA: $7,323; Cumulative: $83,867,000
The second weekend outgrossed the production cost. Had that been the opening gross, Warner Bros. would have been thrilled. The drop was much less than normal for a horror film, making these results even more rosy.
What comes next: This is looking like one of the most profitable films of the year, with most of foreign and a $125 million-plus domestic total ahead.
3. Despicable Me 2 (Universal) Week 4 – Last weekend: #2
$16,024,000 (-36%) in 3,476 theaters (-344); PSA: $4,610; Cumulative: $306,400,000
Still thriving, holding very well, with $400 million domestic a real possibility. At $661 million total worldwide so far, which much more to go, it is nipping at the heels of Universal’s “Fast & Furious 6” (which with China’s big opening this weekend is now at $741 million total).
What comes next: This could play in the Top 10 for the rest of the summer.
4. Turbo (20th Century-Fox) Week 2 – Last weekend: #3
$13,325,000 (-37%) in 3,809 theaters (+3); PSA: $3,498; Cumulative: $55,768,000
A decent second weekend hold for this Dreamworks Animation offering, but the reality is it is underperforming. “The Croods,” Dreamworks’ similarly expensive ($135 million) production, did $26 million in its second weekend (down 38%) last March by comparison. Given indications of better than average audience response to “Turbo,” clearly “Despicable Me 2” is doing competitive damage.
What comes next: Foreign is going toneed to be massive to get this to the level that Dreamworks needs.
5. Grown Ups 2 (Sony) Week 3 – Last weekend: #4
$11,500,000 (-42%) in 3,258 theaters (-233); PSA: $3,530; Cumulative: $101,664,000
Less than a 50% drop again, and breaking through $100 million for the critic-proof (at least this time) Adam Sandler and company.
What comes next: This has most of foreign to come, but should near $130 million domestic, making it Sandler’s best live-action success since 2006’s “Click.”
6. Red 2 (Lionsgate) Week 2 – Last weekend: #6
$9,400,000 (-48%) in 3,016 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $3,117; Cumulative: $35,074,000
Holding in sixth place, with a just under 50% fall, this is still soft compared to expectations but at least now has a chance for a couple more weeks play with foreign theaters starting to open.
What comes next: Lionsgate (where production company Summit is now based) is as good as anyone at nurturing long-term series, but this looks like the end of the road, at least at this expense ($85 million).
7. Pacific Rim (Warner Bros.) Week 3 – Last weekend: #5
$7,540,000 (-53%) in 2,602 theaters (-683); PSA: $2,898; Cumulative: $84,026,000
Another sizable drop, confirming last weekend’s indications that this expensive film just isn’t sufficiently clicking with domestic audiences despite some core enthusiasm. Foreign however gets the total over $200 million so far, with Japan and China (both expected to be strong supporters) among other territories still to open.
What comes next: This needs to get to the far side of $400 million in worldwide theatrical to have a chance to break even, which is not out of the question, but a long shot.
8. The Heat (20th Century-Fox) Week 5 – Last weekend: #8
$6,850,000 (-%) in 2,384 theaters (-305); PSA: $; Cumulative: $141,245,000
Yet another modest drop confirming this female-centered picture as the biggest comedy of the summer (even more than Adam Sandler et al).
What comes next: This still has a shot at equaling “Bridesmaids,” which ended up at $169 million. Even if it falls just short, it’s a massive success, with most of foreign still to come.
9. R.I.P.D. (Universal) Week 2 – Last weekend: #7
$5,900,000 (-54%) in 2,850 theaters (-2); PSA: $2,055; Cumulative: $24,400,000
Not a total collapse, but severe enough with the weak opening, as this total wipeout is likely to disappear from screens after this weekend.
What comes next: This might not gross much more than half of its $130 million budget, not to mention additional marketing costs.
10. Fruitvale Station (Weinstein) Week 3 – Last weekend: #17
$4,657,000 (+530%) in 1,064 theaters (+1,030); PSA: $4,377; Cumulative: $6,339,000
A decent quick expansion for this acclaimed, very topical African-American drama which is now positioned to move ahead as far as word of mouth takes it. These grosses are a little below where “Midnight in Paris” — the recent high performer among summer specialized expansions — did at similar theaters (Woody Allen’s film grossed $5.8 million when it jumped to 944 theaters its fourth week). “Paris,” which had an amazing sustained run as it reached deeper than Allen’s normal audience, made it eventually to $56 million.
“Precious,” another Sundance champion that initially had a similar audience target (both films have crossover appeal beyond African-Americans) was more of a box office phenomenon — it grossed almost $11 million in its third weekend in only 629 theaters on its way to ultimately $47 million. But Weinstein, by going wider and including a broad swath of the top theaters across the country, is counting on the strength of this drama to bolster its long term appeal and enhance its solid awards chances down the line. We’ll see how successful this fairly wide expansion is (which comes with higher marketing costs), but this strong weekend showing suggests they are on the right path.
What comes next: The hold next weekend will be the strongest indication of what the future holds. But this still looks on course to gross at least $20 million, which would be terrific for this low-budget initially specialized appeal film.