The studios have skewed their summer releases around the World Cup, which is taking a bite out of the box office. So this weekend’s new releases are aimed at domestic audiences; two films are likely to do more than the usual amount of their business in the U.S.
The result was a mixed bag. Leading the pack was Tim Story’s “Think Like a Man Too,” with breakout star Kevin Hart. The movie is the first film with both an African-American director and lead cast to attain that ranking in the key May-July playtime since “Bad Boys 2” in 2003 (despite the strong play of similar films throughout the year). That’s partly because the studios usually pencil in wide international appeal films during this time period.
The other new film, Clint Eastwood’s “Jersey Boys,” had a disappointing showing, with only a small Saturday uptick, to rank only #4. The period musical’s core older audience — prominent in the success of many recent films — may have been distracted by other summertime activities.
With the lack of any big new films, overall grosses among the Top 10 plummeted from the same weekend last year by $140 million against last 2013’s $232 million. The release calendar gets most of the blame. Next weekend the industry will heave sighs of relief as”Transformers: Age of Extinction” pops a huge number. No film since “Catching Fire” last November has opened to over $100 million. Can “Transformers” do it? (Variety review here.)
1. “Think Like a Man Too” (Sony) – Cinemascore: A-; Criticwire: C+; Metacritic: 37
$30,000,000 in 2,225 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $13,483,000; Cumulative: $30,000,000
Scoring the top spot but falling short of the first weekend for the original “Think” ($33.6 million) this replicated most of the elements of the first ensemble-cast comedy, but with Kevin Hart now front and center after his rise in popularity. This relatively small number for a top ranked film (it looks like it is the lowest for a prime summer release weekend at #1 since 2003) is playing on fewer screens that any prime summer #1 film since “Fahrenheit 9/11” in 2004. With most top films showing on 3-4,000 screens, the high PSA is more relevant than the actual gross.
This is another big grosser this month coming outside of the usual seasonal audience base, which should help remind the studios to think out of the box. African-American and female-centric films can be a success sometime other than King’s Birthday, Easter or late August.
This Screen Gems production (generally the lower budget entity at Sony) cost about double the first film, somewhere in the mid-20s. Even earning most of its gross in the U.S., this already looks headed toward profit. That makes four hits out of the last five for Sony, which struggled last summer (the one not getting in the black, “Moms’ Night Out,” cost only $5 million). This has come from a variety of films, with only “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” costing hundreds of millions.
This is director Tim Story’s sixth #1 film out of seven wide releases in his resume — an impressive achievement. Though it falls short of “Ride Along” earlier this year (also with Hart — that opened to $41 million, with a wider crossover audience), this confirms that he is one of the most reliable hitmakers in Hollywood today.
What comes next: Both the first “Think” and “Ride Along” fell nearly 50% their second weekends, so anything close to that will be a good sign.
2. “22 Jump Street” (Sony) Week 2 – Last weekend #1
$29,000,000 (-49%) in 3,306 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $8,772; Cumulative: $111,450,000
“21 Jump Street,” which opened about a fourth below “22”‘s initial weekend, dropped 44% its second weekend on its way to an eventual $138 million gross. With this only slightly bigger drop, and a gross already over $110 million, this looks to easily outpace the original’s domestic take. And with a modest $50 million budget (impressively only slightly above the first film) and with most of foreign ahead (though likely to be lower than at home) this should be another Sony summer hit. Curious fact: star Jonah Hill’s previous R-rated film, which co-starred Leonardo DiCaprio rather than Channing Tatum, managed to get to $117 million domestic (though much bigger overseas).
What comes next: This has a shot at maintaining its #2 position next weekend.
3. “How to Train Your Dragon 2” (20th Century Fox) Week 3 – Last weekend #2
$25,300,000 (-49%) in 4,268 theaters (+15); PSA: $5,928; Cumulative: $95,177,000
Falling a disappointing 49% its second weekend after opening at a solid, but below top recent year similar summer animated sequels, “Dragon 2” is headed for a $100 million+ domestic number by midweek. But this falls short of overall expectations, at least at home. The first “Dragon” (which opened much lower at $29 million in spring playtime) only fell 34% its second weekend.
What comes next: This is having a more staggered international rollout than most top animated sequels, so the overall result, with some major countries still to come, is unclear. But this looks like it will fall short of the $212 million the first “Dragon” did at home.
4. “Jersey Boys” (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Criticwire: C+; Metacritic: 54
$13,515,000 in 2,905 theaters; PSA: $4,652; Cumulative: $13,515,000
Adaptations of recent hit musicals have yielded four $100 million successes in the last decade (led by “Les Miserables”) but also some duds (“Rent” and “The Producers”). “Jersey Boys,” barring an above-average hold ahead, looks to fall in the lower end of things, more so with 1960s all-American hitmakers The Four Seasons reducing its foreign appeal (“Les Mis” and “Mamma Mia” were stratospheric overseas). At home, despite the show’s major Broadway and road success, its broader appeal seems to be limited by a lack of interest from younger viewers as well as the decision to feature unknowns (mostly veterans of the show) in the lead roles. This may be one case where summer counterprogramming was not ideal.
The 1960s flashback feel seems also to have taken a toll on the audience demo: a staggering 71% over 50, 84% over 35. Only 8% were under 25. This could easily be the oldest audience film ever for a wide release film. It also skewed female (61%). The Saturday gross was only slightly better than Friday ($5.2 million from $4.6) when seniors are more likely to go to the movies, so that’s not a great sign.
With 83-year-old Clint Eastwood as director, Warners at least had economy (a reported $40 million production budget). And though it doesn’t make it a success, it could become his biggest grossing film as a director since “Gran Torino,” as well as the best opening (or first wide) weekend other than that film since “Space Cowboys” in 2003. Eastwood’s films, when they have amassed gross, have tended to do so over lengthy periods, often buttressed by awards attention as well as word of mouth. It is possible this might still get to a respectable level, but at this point it looks like a risky bet to overcome Warners’ recent soft streak.
What comes next: The studio will need to determine how much more marketing they want to spend on this. If you see ads during the week, expect that they have determined there is still enough of an audience to be pulled in based on initial reactions.
5. “Maleficent” (Buena Vista) Week 4 – Last weekend #3
$13,012,000 (-30%) in 3,450 theaters (-173); PSA: $; Cumulative: $185,980,000
Look at that modest fall — this is going to go far over $200 million with a domestic gross above both “Spider-Man 2” and “Godzilla.” At its expense, that comes as a relief as well as a victory. And foreign is even better — worldwide this is already at $522 million.
What comes next: Somehow Disney will turn this into a further franchise. Might we see a return of Cruella da Vil?
6. “Edge of Tomorrow” (Warner Bros.) Week 3 – Last weekend #4
$10,340,000 (-37%) in 3,212 theaters (-293); PSA: $3,219; Cumulative: $74,511,000
modest drop this weekend is good news for Warners,
which still has to hope this can somehow surpass $350 million outside of
domestic gross with the film’s initial high expense. It’s more than
halfway there, but only the usually Cruise-friendly Japan among top
territories has yet to open this.
What comes next: “Transformers” next weekend could provide significantly more competition among action audiences than this has faced so far.
7. “The Fault in Our Stars” (20th Century Fox) Week 3 – Last weekend #5
$8,600,000 (-42%) in 3,340 theaters (+67); PSA: $2,575; Cumulative: $98,728,000
Holding much better than its second weekend (this was looking dicey last Sunday after it fell from #1 to 5), and nearing the $100 million mark, this now looks like it could sustain several additional weeks (it actually had its highest print count this weekend).
What comes next: With nothing similar to it opening soon, this has a better shot of holding on.
8. “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (20th Century Fox) Week 5 – Last weekend #6
$6,200,000 (-37%) in 2,681 theaters (-361); PSA: $2,313; Cumulative: $216,794,000
A terrific hold late in its run for the best holding of this summer’s tentpole/sequel films so far. Worldwide is approaching $700 million.
What comes next: This also will feel “Tranformers” impact, but this still has some way to go before it’s through.
9. “Chef” (Open Road) Week 7 – Last weekend #10
$1,845,000 (-35%) in 961 theaters (-141); PSA: $1,929; Cumulative: $16,942,000
Still holding steady, Jon Favreau’s comedy is now approaching the level of several of the best recent initially limited releases (“Enough Said,” “Mud,” “The Place Beyond the Pines” among last year’s top non-awards period performers), impressive for a company normally known for its wide releases.
What comes next: This looks likely to pass $20 million.
10. “Godzilla” (Warner Bros.) Week 6 – Last weekend #7
$1,820,000 (-45%) in 1,365 theaters (-723); PSA: $1,333; Cumulative: $194,915,000
With a further loss of a third of its theaters, this is a decent hold for Warners’ monster reboot, which looks to just about get to $200 million domestically.
What comes next: Combined worldwide is over $450 million, with Japan the big remaining target with its likely huge take there.