With just days to go before the summer movie season blasts off with Iron Man 3, the domestic box office offered up another decidedly ‘meh’ moment. Paramount’s Pain & Gain was on top with a respectable $20 million while the new rom-com The Big Wedding badly underperformed. The real excitement came on the global market, where Iron Man 3 broke records with its international launch.
|1.||Pain & Gain||$20,000,000||$20|
|4.||The Big Wedding||$7,500,000||$7.5|
|6.||G.I. Joe: Retaliation||$3,620,000||$116.3|
|7.||Scary Movie 5||$3,457,000||$27.4|
|8.||Olympus Has Fallen||$2,768,000||$93|
|9.||The Place Beyond the Pines||$2,699,000||$16.2|
|10.||Jurassic Park 3D||$2,310,000||$43.6|
Iron Man 3 rolled out across the globe beginning last Wednesday, where it set opening day records in Italy, the Philippines and Taiwan. Elsewhere, the film’s international debuts were similarly impressive, often representing the highest weekend opening since 2012’s The Avengers. Over its first five days in 42 territories (the sequel opens in China on May first), Iron Man 3 earned a reported $195.3 million. Numbers like that are good enough to have me hoping that there is time to salvage the dismal 2013 box office.
I’m sure it seems unfair to Michael Bay that Pain & Gain is being overshadowed by Iron Man 3 this weekend. Unfortunately, that’s what happens when you choose the last weekend in April for your debut. Conventional wisdom holds that, on this week, audiences reserve their hard-earned cash to spend on the marquee titles of May. In fact, over the past five years, only one film has bucked that trend: 2011’s Fast Five. The $86 million debut of that franchise title caught many people by surprise – not least the folks at Marvel who believed they had the “first blockbuster of summer” slot locked down that year with Thor.
Considering the success of Fast Five, it is probably no coincidence that Paramount settled on this weekend to launch Pain & Gain. Both films star Dwayne ‘The Rock” Johnson after all and, in box office speak, that counts as a comp. Even with the Rock on the posters, however, no one seriously expected Pain & Gain to put up Fast Five-sized numbers.
Despite the involvement of perennial box office powerhouses like Michael Bay, The Rock and Mark Wahlberg, the R-rated “true crime” story did not have the mass appeal of a straight-up action movie like Fast Five. That’s why Paramount played down expectations, telling box office watchers they were expecting an opening in the ‘high teens.’ That sort of opening is about average for non-franchise titles on this particular weekend, though early projections promised a debut closer to $25 million. In any event, no one involved with Pain & Gain should be disappointed with today’s estimate. Based on the film’s own publicity, Pain & Gain was a “passion project” for Bay and was budgeted at just $26 million (about a tenth of the cost of the director’s Transformers 2). Even with middling reviews and Iron Man on the horizon, the film is likely to turn a nice profit.
No such luck for The Big Wedding. With its estimate of $7.5 million from 2,633 locations, this weekend’s second new release looks like a giant disappointment. Distributed by Lionsgate, The Big Wedding boasts a bevy of big names, including Robert DeNiro, Susan Sarandon and Amanda Seyfried, and a budget $10 million higher than Pain & Gain. The hope was for The Big Wedding to serve as a counterprogramming option for those audiences (read: women) not interested in lining up for this year’s Marvel blockbuster. With word of mouth in its favor, that plan could have worked… too bad the film currently ranks at just 6% on Rotten Tomatoes. It is important to note that few projections had The Big Wedding coming in higher than $10 million. The fact that it couldn’t reach even that very modest goal speaks volumes.
The audiences The Big Wedding was hoping to seduce seemed to turn instead to 42 this weekend. Now in its third frame, the Jackie Robinson biopic was down just 40% – putting its domestic cume at just under $70 million. One week after opening in first place, Oblivion was off by 53%. So far, the sci-fi title has earned $64.7 million in the US and over $200 million worldwide.
In case you missed it, next weekend is all about the Iron Man. Three years ago, Iron Man 2 opened with over $128 million and, given the global reaction and the nice lead-in provided by The Avengers, it’s safe to say that the third installment will open closer to $150. Check back next weekend when the numbers are in.