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‘Monsters University’ and ‘World War Z’ Top Strong Friday; ‘Man of Steel’ Plummets 71%

'Monsters University' and 'World War Z' Top Strong Friday; 'Man of Steel' Plummets 71%

The strong summer 2013 rebound after a weak first four months continues, but there are signs that films are starting cannibalize each other, which could get worse in coming weeks. 

Two new films — Disney/Pixar’s “Monsters University” at $30.5 million and Paramount’s hugely expensive “World War Z” at $25 million — will each easily pass $50 million for the weekend. However, Warner Bros.’ “Man of Steel” fell a steep 71% from last Friday, still grossing a strong $12.7 million, but showing signs of vulnerability to new competition. It may not be quite the monster hit its huge opening portended. 

“Monsters” looks on track to be the second biggest Pixar opening ever (after “Toy Story 3”) while “WWZ” looks to be Brad Pitt’s best opening ever for unadjusted figures (“Mr. and Mrs. Smith with no 3-D and lower overall ticket prices did $50 million in 2005).

The top 10 films grossed $80 million on Friday, which is an uptick over last year on the strength of the top three. (By comparison Friday, May 24, the opening day of “Fast & Furious 6,” totaled $83 million). This was a $27 million increase from last year as the year to date figure still lags by over $200 million. And with the huge expense of the top films — “Monsters,” “Z” and “Steel” combined production and world wide marketing costs could approach $900 million — the idea that overall business lags suggests that the summer’s high-wire act of expensive tentpoles and franchises remains risky. Steven Spielberg may be right.

That said, these grosses, including “Steel” (which despite its big fall is already on track for at least a small profit between initial domestic results and international openings so far) are encouraging. And they aren’t the only signs. Numbers 4 and 5 were solid holdovers of two sleeper successes that aren’t withering with new competition. Sony’s “This Is the End” did $4.1 million, down from $6.9 its first Friday, while Lionsgate’s “Now You See Me” added $2.5 million for a total $89 million.

The rest of the top 10 all grossed under $1.5 million, reflecting the still finite level of potential ticket buyers with the top films taking most of the total. “Fast & Furious 6,” “The Purge,” “The Internship” and “Star Trek Into Darkness” all are near the end of their runs. #10 though is just starting — Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring” (A24) in its second weekend expanded to 650 screens, good enough for an OK $682,000, with a per screen average about double that of Sony Pictures Classics “Before Midnight” last weekend in an even wider break which failed to find much of an audience.

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