Weekend Box Office: MONSTERS UNIVERSITY and WORLD WAR Z Top Giant June Weekend

     June 23, 2013

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Among this weekend’s major players, everyone is a winner this morning. In first place with an estimated $82 million, Monsters University scored the second highest debut ever for a Pixar title and the fifth-highest June debut of all time. World War Z, which shocked many by NOT bombing, came in a very strong second with $66 million. And Man of Steel, though down 64% in its sophomore frame, topped $200 million in ten days and saw its worldwide total soar above $345 million.

The 2013 box office was the biggest winner, however – scoring the best June weekend of all time as it closed the gap with 2012’s earnings.

 Title Weekend Total
1.  Monsters University $82,000,000 $82
2.  World War Z $66,000,000 $66
3.  Man of Steel $41,215,000 $210
4.  This Is The End $13,000,000 $57.7
5.  Now You See Me $7,870,000 $94.4
6.  Fast & Furious 6 $4,725,000 $228.4
7.  The Internship $3,425,000 $38.3
8.  The Purge $3,412,000 $59.4
9  Star Trek Into Darkness $3,000,000 $216.6
10.  Iron Man 3 $2,175,000 $403.1

monsters-university-posterBack in 2013’s early months, box office writers looked forward to summer and the hope it promised: big movies – guaranteed hits – that would make the year’s first quarter seem like a bad dream. For the most part, that promise has been realized. Last month, Iron Man 3 had the second-highest opening weekend of all-time and has gone on to place fifth on the list of worldwide hits with over $1.2 billion. Fast & Furious 6 and The Great Gatsby both proved stronger than expected and, though this year’s Superman reboot proved a bit divisive, Man of Steel came out strong with the biggest June debut of all time.

This all means that 2013 is finally free of its reputation as a box office loser. This year’s total receipts are now nearly equal to the same point in 2012 while the $236 million in total receipts this weekend set a new record for June. What makes this news even more impressive is, unlike 2012 when big hits like The Avengers carried the box office almost singlehandedly, this month has seen impressive performances by multiple titles on the same frame.

First among these is Monsters University. That Pixar’s fourteenth feature came out on top is no surprise – the studio has hit number one with all of its past releases. What is a bit more surprising is the number that accompanied that win. Twelve years ago, Monsters, Inc. opened to $62.5 million on its way to a final domestic tally of $255.8 million (not adjusted for inflation). For the prequel, the studio was expecting around $75 million: that’s more than the $65 million it typically averages but less than the $110.3 million record of Toy Story 3.

world-war-z-poster-3Though the estimated $82 million Monsters University took in from 4,004 locations this weekend (including $2.6 million from Thursday previews) technically counts as “topping expectations,” there is no doubt who the real “overperformer” is on the chart.

Not long ago, Paramount’s World War Z was deemed a disaster waiting to happen. The adaptation of Max Brooks’ popular zombie apocalypse novel was haunted by bad press that resulted in an opening-weekend projection of just $40 million. If realized, that number would not have made World War Z a John Carter-sized disappointment; but, with a reported budget of just under $200 million, it wouldn’t have been enough to avoid the comparison altogether.

So color Paramount ecstatic this morning to find World War Z in second place with an estimated $66 million from 3,607 locations. That’s a per-theatre average of $18,230 – not far below the $20,480 Monsters University earned in almost 400 more venues. So far, World War Z is also proving popular overseas. The PG-13 feature opened in 25 territories on Friday; earning a reported $45.8 million or a global cume of $111.8 million in three days.

A bigger than expected turnout for World War Z meant that the expected battle for second place between Brad Pitt and Superman never materialized. In its second weekend in theatres, Man of Steel was down 64.7% with an estimated $41.2 million from 4,207 locations (the widest of any release this frame). How you view that drop may depend on how you feel about the film: fans will note that MoS has already topped the lifetime gross of 2006’s Superman Returns in the US and that, last July, The Dark Knight Rises was off 61% in its own sophomore outing. Critics, on the other hand, will claim that a near 65% drop is never good news and cite the slighter dips of other superhero films, including Iron Man 3 (-58%) and The Dark Knight (-52.5%), among others. Let the debate commence!

Along with earning the best June total of all time, this weekend topped the same frame in 2012 (when Pixar’s Brave opened with $66.3 million) by over 43%. Next weekend could extend the 2013 winning streak – though by a less-impressive margin. The comedy The Heat  and White House Down are both expected to debut in the $35 million range – and with Monsters University, World War Z and Man of Steel still in their prime – June should end on an impressive note.

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