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Looking Beyond ‘Captain America’ at the Box Office — Top 10 Takeaways

Looking Beyond 'Captain America' at the Box Office -- Top 10 Takeaways

“Captain America: Civil War” is nearing $1 billion worldwide after its second weekend, with $295 million in 10 days of domestic release. Everything else?  Well, the combined grosses of two wide new studio releases — Jodie Foster’s “Money Monster” (Sony) and Jason Blum production “The Darkness” (Focus) — grossed less than a third of second weekend for “Civil War.” Still, there’s a story beyond Disney’s global domination. 

The Top Ten

1. Captain America: Civil War (Buena Vista) Week 2 – Last weekend #1

$72.563,000 (-59%) in 4,226 theaters (no change); PTA (per theater average): $17,171; Cumulative: $295,892,000

2. The Jungle Book (Buena Vista) Week 5 – Last weekend #2

$17,764,000 (-27%) in 3,970 theaters (-174); PTA: $4,475; Cumulative: $311.760,000

3. Money Monster (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Criticwire: C+; Metacritic: 56

$15,000 in 3,104 theaters; PTA: $4,832,000; Cumulative: $15,000,000

4. The Darkness (Focus)  NEW – Cinemascore: C; Metacritic: 30

$5,180,000 in 1,755 theaters; PTA: $2,952; Cumulative: $5,180,000

5. Mother’s Day (Open Road)  Week 3 – Last weekend #3

$3,259,000 (-71%) in 3,291 theaters (+150); PTA: $990; Cumulative: $28,757,000

6. Zootopia (Buena Vista)  Week 11 – Last weekend #6

$2,816,000 (-12%) in 1,935 theaters (-142); PTA: $1,455; Cumulative: $331,831,000

7. The Huntsman: Winter’s War (20th Century Fox) Week 4 – Last weekend #4

$2,580,000 (-35%) in 2,518 theaters (-383); PTA: $1,025; Cumulative: $44,539,000

8. Keanu (Warner Bros.)  Week 3 – Last weekend #5

$1,900,000 (-42%) in 2,120 theaters (-561); PTA: $896; Cumulative: $18,613,000

9. Barbershop: The Next Cut (Warner Bros.)  Week 5 – Last weekend #7

$1,675,000 (-40%) in 1,333 theaters (-401); PTA: $1,257; Cumulative: $51,356,000

10. The Boss (Universal)  Week 6 – Last weekend #8

$1,180,000 (-38%) in 1,350 theaters (-583); PTA: $874; Cumulative: $61,142,000

The Takeaways

Steady As It Goes

In its fifth weekend, “The Jungle Book” became Disney’s third film to cross the $300 million mark since December. It will soon be joined by “Captain America” —  unprecedented in such a short time.

That dominance leaves Disney with close to 75% of total business this weekend and creeping up to a 30% studio share for 2016. Even Universal’s great  2015 wasn’t this strong. Their 21% total share was exceptionally high (most years, the top studio commands between 16%-19%). As for year to date total gross, it still hovers about 6% over last year – more impressive, since it now has to compete with the even bigger initial haul for “Ultron” head to head.

“Captain America” – The Triumph Continues

The 59% second weekend drop is in line with most smash comic book adaptations, even more impressive since the first weekend was so high. Among second weekends, it is fifth best among Marvel films — behind the two “Avengers” films and one each among “Iron Man” and “Spider-Man” entries — and  is headed to over $400 million. Alone, it is nearly 60% of the Top Ten. Once again, a new opener plays an oversized role in making box office increase and conveys the sense of a very strong year.

Sony Maximizes Money Monster

A $15 million gross for Jodie Foster’s fifth time out as a director is above Sony’s lowball projections.  That’s a success story, if a modest one; a slew of wide releases have fallen short of this level. There’s a sense that rich get richer and the average new film can’t find traction.

And the “Money Monster” cast, despite their long-term appeal, hardly guarantees success for a wide release. George Clooney in the lead gets a film attention (and higher expectations, which means mixed reviews — like the ones this received — can hurt), but doesn’t guarantee results. The $15 million here bests many of his recent films, including “Hail, Caesar,” “The Ides of March,” “The American” and “The Man Who Stared at Goats” among them. Last year’s “Tomorrowland” was  intended as an event film, but flopped. “The Decendants” and “Up in the Air” were lower-budgeted prestige titles that went on to wider success, while “Gravity” was a big-budget sci-fi smash. So muted expectations were in order.

Then there’s Julia Roberts. After several years of uneven performance, suddenly she has two films (the other “Mother’s Day”) in the Top Ten at the same time — unusual for a lead actor, more so for an actress. She last achieved this in early December, 2004, when both “Ocean’s Twelve” and “Closer” ranked.

“Money Monster” comes on the heels of two breakout films set on Wall Street. Martin Scorsese’s “Wolf of Wall Street” and the recent Oscar contender “The Big Short” both showed the complications of high finance were no barrier to general audience appeal. “Monster” is a more conventional genre film, but the prior finance titles may have helped make it more audience-friendly. Its elevated special showing on Cannes’ second night and the attendant publicity didn’t hurt, either.

Sony is touting a 23% Saturday increase from Friday. They’re correct to note that this is above average across all wide releases. But for those aimed at older adults, it is more middle ground, and doesn’t necessarily proved that this is in for an over three-times multiple. But that is to be seen. What we know so far is that a film with modest expectations managed to find more of an initial audience than expected.

The Horror Dilemma

Jason Blum is a smart producer who knows his main market (horror), with successive hits in the “Paranormal Activity,” “Insidious” and “Purge” series and other successes like “Ouija,” “The Visit” and his marketing oversight of “Unfriended.”

While ensuring  his budgets are low and finding young directing talent with a fresh eye, he’s also figured out that not every film is meant to have a conventionally wide theatrical release. It’s tough out there for standalone horror films. His deal with Universal has allowed him to choose the best path for each film. With wide release domestic marketing budgets easily $20 million or more, that means finding alternative ways to advertise to reduce costs — or, not going theatrical at all.

Several recent films from his stable have either gone straight to DVD/VOD — or, in one case, Netflix (the microbudget”Hush” last month). For “The Darkness” (with a more experienced director, Australian Greg McLea,  best known for “Wolf Creek”), he pushed for an under-2,000 theater release and utilized Universal’s specialized arm Focus, which more frequently handles genre films these days. That company designated their High Top brand as the official distributor, but it’s the Focus personnel dating theaters. Universal paid for the more economical, targeted marketing (coming in under $10 million, they say), while Blum’s team created and directed the campaign.

Again, with the chance they low-balled their pre-opening estimate, the $5.2 million gross looks better than it might otherwise. The economics here are that if the initial costs are minimized and the film can gross over $10 million, Universal’s international arm can add enough revenue added to later VOD, DVD, and cable revenues to make a profit.

Blum is not a one-trick pony — he was an Oscar nominee as a producer for “Whiplash” — but his heart seems to still be in making the very tricky horror genre survive. Does this gross mean he’s doing the right thing? It doesn’t seem special on its own, but for someone who can keep his eye on all aspects of a production and release and find the right path, it’s as good as any.


It seems wrong to treat another great showing for Disney’s two other films, but it’s no longer news that “The Jungle Book” (in its fifth weekend as #2, ahead of two new openers, down only 27% after its first big drop last week) and “Zootopia” (still #6 in Week 11, and with a tiny 12% fall) continue to thrive. Both have made over $300 million; both will pass $350 million and score much higher world wide. And they will end up the company’s third and fourth best total grossers over the last half year. Just staggering.

The rest fell in a normal range of 35%-42%, with the exception of “Mother’s Day.” It saw a 70% free fall but still took fifth place, withl more than triple its opening weekend. It will be Open Road’s best wide-release film in more than two years. They nicely maximized what they had.

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