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2013: The Box Office Year-In-Review (So Far)

2013: The Box Office Year-In-Review (So Far)

We’re about halfway through a year that has seen no seismic shift in business from previous ones. Earlier in 2013 it was clear the year was lacking and had no “The Hunger Games” or “The Avengers” to prop up overall stats. As we’ve eased into summer, however, the numbers have strengthened, and audiences have feasted on a number of hits thus far, with more to come as the weather gets warmer.

As expected, several of these movies are relying more and more on overseas help to weather middling domestic showings. 3D plays a big factor, but a number of smaller, mid-range projects are also finding relief internationally, which is likely due to expanding theater counts in other countries. As mediocre as some early-year numbers have been, the studios have been releasing less and less product, to the point where there are less outright flops. The number of distributors has increased, however, and this year has seen strong grosses from would-be majors like FilmDistrict, Relativity and Open Road Films.

Some of this year’s biggest hits were strict no-brainers,
starting with “Iron Man 3.” Off the heels of last year’s “The Avengers,” the
threequel registered the second biggest opening weekend of all time and is
headed towards $400 million domestic and $1.2 billion worldwide, making it the
fifth biggest movie of all-time. Not a typo. “Fast And Furious 6” (approaching
$600 million and still strong) and “Star Trek Into Darkness” (likely $400
million) are on their way towards outperforming their predecessors (though ‘Darkness’ will be softer domestically than 2009’s non-3D “Star Trek”) while few could
have expected the third biggest global hit of the year to be Fox’s animated “The
” ($570 million).

With “The Man Of Steel” taking over $200 million worldwide on its opening weekend, Warner Bros. already has two solid performers this season. “The Great Gatsby” didn’t go supernova internationally as the WB hoped, though a strong
domestic showing resulted in $279 million in global ticket sales. While it’s
not approaching the numbers of the first two films, the $103 million-budgeted “The
Hangover Part III
” is pulling in big stats overseas, and will likely wrap up
comfortably over $300 million global. Meanwhile, Melissa McCarthy guided the $35 million-budgeted “Identity Thief” to $173 million worldwide, and will hope to do even better with “The Heat” in a few weeks.
Summer’s early non-blockbuster counter-programming option “Now You See Me” is
also expected to join these ranks as it speeds towards $100 million domestic.

Similarly, not all the budgets were big with this spring’s
stronger performers. Baseball drama “42” surprised everyone with a $92 million
domestic gross, while the Nicolas Sparks hit factory produced “Safe Haven,”
collecting $93 million worldwide on a $28 million budget. Both “Warm Bodies
and “Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters” seemed like quick cheapies made to
capitalize on certain genre trends, but both performed surprisingly strong: ‘Bodies’ collected $116 million globally, while ‘Hansel’ was huge overseas with a
worldwide $225 million total, with a sequel on the way. Although international numbers boosted several 3D tentpoles, they also boosted smaller
films, helping “Side Effects” double its budget worldwide ($60 million) while
aiding domestic punchlines like “Movie 43” ($29 million global from a $6
million budget).

As always, the best and safest bet was to push
low-budget horror towards the masses and reap the rewards. “The Purge” is on
its way towards being just the latest success, headed towards $70-$80 million
domestically alone on a $3 million budget. It’s got plenty of company: sub-$20
million chillers “Mama” ($146 million) and “The Evil Dead” ($95 million) were
huge successes here and abroad, while sub-$5 million chillers like “The Last
Exorcism Part II
” ($18 million), “Dark Skies” ($23 million) and even
microbudget spoof “A Haunted House” ($40 million) weathered terrible reviews
to generate surprising grosses.

The year’s biggest
early-year grosser was certainly “Oz The Great And Powerful” but that film,
greenlit in the wake of the billion dollar “Alice In Wonderland” and costing
the studio upwards of $300 million in production and advertising, wasn’t really made  stall at just under half-a-billion ($490 million). We haven’t seen the last of “G.I. Joe” and “Die Hard.”
Bruce Willis showed up in both “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” and “A Good Day To Die
,” and both times the foreign audiences came to the rescue, with $365
million and $304 million respectively. But in both cases, the films heavily
underperformed compared to predecessors domestically; in fact, “A Good Day To Die Hard” was
actually the lowest-grossing “Die Hard” film stateside, an embarrassing feat
for a franchise twenty five years and five movies old. Regardless, both franchies are likely to continue, and ‘Joe 3’ is already moving along.

Action blockbusters yielded mixed results this year, as Tom
’s “Oblivion” is slowly crawling towards a $300 million global gross,
though it was Cruise’s third straight film to fail to pull in nine figures in
America. “Olympus Has Fallen” inverted that strategy: FilmDistrict only
distributed in America and it’s $98 million domestic result is the strongest
in studio history, but a global tally of $133 million suggests overseas
audiences weren’t feeling the adventures of disgraced Secret Service agent Mike
Banning. There was even some rocky traction in regards to animated films, with “Epic
likely to become animation studio Blue Sky’s lowest-grossing domestic release,
while The Weinstein Company only goosed $69 million out of “Escape From Planet
.” The Weinsteins couldn’t even rely on their more consistent cash cows: “Scary
Movie 5
” pulled in $70 million from a $20 million budget, which was impressive
until you realize it was the first film in that series to not gross $100
million plus worldwide.

Only the deeply-embedded money men can tell us whether this
year had anything similar to the gargantuan failure of “John Carter” (“Lone
,” they’re calling your name), but it does appear that “Jack The Giant
” will come close. The adventure film cost $195 million, not counting an
ad campaign that was saddled with two separate release dates. The end result, a
global take of $197 million, reportedly lost the WB somewhere between $125-$140
a clear enough explanation of why director Bryan Singer is returning to the “X-Men” series. In
a similar vein is the dismal showing of Will Smith’s “After Earth,” though that
$130 million film is reportedly on track to gross $200 million internationally,
easing the burden on Sony but nonetheless providing a massive chink in Smith’s
formerly-unbreakable armor.

Limited results were seen by two films desperate to start
the first big post-“Twilight” teen phenomenon. “The Host” wasn’t hugely
expensive, but the $48 million global take doesn’t seem particularly strong
given a $40 million budget. Worse still was “Beautiful Creatures,” a $60
million fantasy franchise starter that managed only $19 million worldwide
despite a plum Valentine’s Day release. Big stars also saw hugely disappointing
results, with “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” collecting a meager $24 million
on a $30 million budget, and “Broken City” collecting $30 million on a $35
million budget, both films providing fodder to studios desperate to avoid
bankrolling anything that isn’t a massive tentpole or a no-budget genre
cheapie. “The Internship” also disappointed in its opening weekend, and should join
this group shortly despite a manageable $58 million budget.

It was mid-budgeted macho action films that took it in the
chin this year. Dwayne Johnson had two solid performers in this respect with
the $20 million “Pain And Gain” ($56 million) and the $14 million “Snitch” ($48
million), but the rest of the industry’s muscle-men fell far behind. “Expendables
legends Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger were virtually ignored,
with the $55 million “Bullet To The Head” ($13 million) and the $45 million “The
Last Stand
” ($37 million). Jason Statham’s “Parker” collected $45 million
worldwide but fizzled out domestically, while only $18 million of
ticket sales greeted the $30 million-budgeted “Dead Man Down.” While
overseas audiences picked up the slack, the oft-postponed $60 million “Gangster
” only collected $105 million worldwide, though that’s a stronger number
than most expected after only $46 million during its stateside run.

It was a topsy-turvy year so far at the arthouse, but
judging by the numbers, there was one juggernaut, and it was… “Quartet”? Dustin
’s directorial debut was considered an end-of-’12 Oscar contender by
some, and we’re actually still unclear if it actually did see an Oscar qualifying
release. What we do know is that the film ripped through American theaters
for a surprising $18 million, adding to a fairly robust $57 million global
total, satisfying the audiences who drove last year’s “The Best Exotic Marigold
” to a surprising $136 million tally.

Aside from that there was still a collection of hot indie
titles that over-performed, led by the meme-worthy “Spring Breakers.” That
oddity brought in $31 million worldwide off a budget of $5 million and like
similar buzz-worthy indies it will likely perform even stronger on the DVD
market. “Mud” also posted a solid $21 million global gross, and should keep
going into the summer as it still plays in limited release. And though it seems
incredibly hard to believe, Robert Redford’s “The Company You Keep” only cost
$2 million, making the $13 million global take fairly impressive. “Before
” looks like it could be the arthouse hit of the summer, and it should
cross $2 million this weekend, but this year has been seriously lacking in
indie breakouts.

Every year has a far-too-expensive genre arthouse flop and this year that was
the $50 million sci-fi romance “Upside Down,” which grossed only $8 million globally, and a
tragically small $105k in America. The bloom appears to be off the rose for
Oscar winner Danny Boyle as his latest, the $20 million “Trance,” only grossed
$17 million, with a little more than $2 million coming from American audiences.
And Black List-approved “Stoker” cost $12 million but only
grossed $9 million, with only $1.7 million stateside despite a starry cast and the involvement of director Chan Wook-Park. Despite carrying budgets
within eight figures, both “Stand Up Guys” and “The Iceman” landed with a thud
at $3.5 million and $1.8 million respectively, while the highly-touted internet drama “Disconnect
only pulled in $1.4 million.

Mainstream Oscar recognition for “The Tree Of Life” and “Argo
didn’t help the Ben Affleck-starring Terrence Malick flick “To The Wonder
gross beyond $566k (though OnDemand numbers were likely stronger), while Oscar
winner Colin Firth couldn’t gather interest for “Arthur Newman,” which played
to a middling $207k. To be reputable was no use, but it was even worse for
non-studio horror; The $10 million “Aftershock” pulled in a pretty painful
$58k, while a wide-release for “No One Lives” yielded a middling $74k, and
Anchor Bay’s aggressive rollout for “The Lords Of Salem” only brought in $1.2
million. Meanwhile, there’s absolutely no metric to sum up “InAPPropriate
,” which somehow landed on 275 screens in its opening weekend with a
mainstream ad presence, finishing with a borderline pathetic $228k.

So what are your thoughts? Any movies that made more they should of, or films that deserved a bigger audience? Let us know below.

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