Weekend Box Office – SUPER 8 Defies Expectations with $37 Million Debut

by     Posted 3 years, 67 days ago


After months of buildup, Super 8 took top honors this weekend with an estimated $37 million from 3,379 locations.  That figure is significantly higher than the film had been tracking just five days ago.  Is it higher than the studio was hoping for five months ago?  Not exactly.

Title Weekend Total
1 Super 8 $37,000,000 $38
2 X-Men: First Class $25,000,000 $98.8
3 The Hangover Part II $18,500,000 $216.5
4 Kung Fu Panda 2 $16,635,000 $126.9
5 Pirates of the Caribbean 4 $10,845,000 $208.7
6 Bridesmaids $10,154,000 $123.9
7 Judy Moody $6,267,000 $6.2
8 Midnight in Paris $6,146,000 $14.2
9 Thor $2,370,000 $173.6
10 Fast Five $1,714,000 $205

Paramount is breathing easier this morning, as its last minute rush to make sure Super 8 didn’t crash looks like it paid off.  The film’s debut is in the same range as the $37.3 million District 9 earned back in August of 2009.  Of course, District 9 didn’t have a Super Bowl ad.  Or a well-known director.  Or a cushy release date nearly all to itself…

We are still in summer’s early weeks.  We have not travelled back to March when Sony’s Battle: Los Angeles looked like a big hit with its $35.5 million opening.  In fact, until very recently, Super 8 was expected to open in the $45 million range.  That’s about what Cloverfield made over its four-day holiday debut in 2008… in January.  Considering its pedigree Super 8 could have been bigger.  But maybe I feel that way because I was among the small percentage of folks who believed that the film would be bigger.  It hurts to be wrong.

A few months back Super 8 looked like just what its marketing claimed it would be: the must-see mystery movie of the summer.  Director JJ Abrams played the hush-hush angle that had worked so well for Inception throughout the film’s long, targeted promotional campaign.  Until a funny thing happened.  Tracking indicated that few people cared what kind of secret Abrams and producer Steven Spielberg had cooked up.  Tracking figures were bleak and, for awhile, it looked like Super 8 might derail in the $25 million range.  To jump start word of mouth, the studio leaked images from the film and arranged sneak-peaks in key markets as early as Wednesday night.  That and the film’s positive critical reception seemed to turn the tide – Saturday’s estimate was up almost 15% over Friday which is how $37 million ends up looking like a big win.

That estimate is also promising if Paramount’s reported budget of $50 million is accurate.  This is not a franchise film with huge expectations behind it, like last weekend’s X-Men: First Class ($55.1 million), or a remake with a built-in fanbase, like last year’s Karate Kid ($55.6 million).  Of course, it’s not exactly a little arthouse flick either.  Considering its genre, its rating and its provenance, Super 8 could have been a sci-fi event straight out of the Spielberg playbook.  Instead it will settle for crushing the $30.5 million that The Happening brought in on this same weekend three years ago.  It hurt me just to type that.

x-men-first-class-movie-image-michael-fassbender-james-mcavoy-02X-Men: First Class placed second with an estimate of $25 million.  That puts the film’s domestic total just shy of the $100 million mark after 10 days with a global cume of $173.4 million.  That’s better than things were looking one week ago but still significantly below any previous X-pic.  On the positive side, the film’s 54% sophomore weekend drop is more promising than the 69% decline of X-Men Origins: Wolverine or the 67% of X-Men: The Last Stand.

The Hangover Part II broke the $200 million mark on Friday and, one day later, the comedy became the official top-grossing film of 2011.  After seventeen days the sequel has brought in a giant $368 million worldwide – again, not quite as impressive as its predecessor at the same point but you can’t get hit by lightning in a bottle twice, or whatever.

In other news, Bridesmaids managed its best hold yet on its fifth weekend, falling just 15% and bringing its domestic total up to nearly $124 million.  Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris expanded into 944 locations and earned an estimated theatre average of $6,510 per.  That was more than double that of Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer, the only new release of the weekend after Super 8.  Based on a popular book series, the family film opened with an estimate of $6.2 million which was slightly higher than it’s projections.

Next weekend a smallish, unobtrusive release with limited appeal will hit theatres.  Just kidding.  We all know next weekend belongs to Green Lantern.  With Super 8 trailing last year’s number one The Karate Kid, this weekend fell slightly behind 2010’s earnings total.  We’ll see if Ryan Reynolds’ superhero can help get the box office back into the black… (thought I was going to go with green, didn’t you?)


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  • knowledge

    Here’s the thing, Super 8 just wasn’t very good. I wanted to like it because I’m a fan of Abrams but I still don’t know what the movie was about. [Possible Spoiler ALERT]…

    Was it about feeling bad for “the creature?” Was it about a kid and his friends going on an adventure? Was it about a father and son coming together after a loss? Was it about the constant struggle between knowledge and humanity, i.e., the military and the creature? Was it about the struggle that parental conflicts can have on their children? There were so many storylines, none of which seemed to get resolved in a complete way and none of which seemed to have a full arch. If this movie was to be done right, it needed to be about a 5 hour long movie. There was just too many moving parts for a theatrical release. To be honest, it should’ve been a TV series like LOST. In the end, it just didn’t work in the theaters and I’m sad that Abrams didn’t pull through on this… $20 down the drain. P.S. Abrams used enough lens flares to fulfill his quota for the next decade and it slowly, but surely drove me insane. It was like Chinese water torture by the end of the flick.

    That all being said, the monster looked very cool and the actors did a good job with what they were given. Kyle Chandler never got to fully develop his character and I would’ve liked to have seen him more because I think he did a hell of a job on Friday Night Lights and I think he had the acting chops to carry a movie like Super 8, he just needs to be given a chance to be a central figure instead of a seemingly disposable one.

  • sense 11

    Hey not bad for a 50 million dollar production budget.

  • Kenny B

    I walked out of the theater mildly disappointed. 30 minutes later I realized it wasn’t that bad, rather I enjoyed it a lot. The story left a lot to be desired, the creature and the “really?!?!” aspect of it left a sour taste. But it was fun with great kids and action. The lens flare was a bit much, but I really enjoy watching JJ Abrams movies.

    How about those new Transformers trailers. Seems their making a big deal out of using long, single camera shots instead of the traditional rapid fire edit. What if the movie follows up on the tease? It just may be awesome.

  • salfie

    I liked Super 8, but did feel disappointed with it. The 2 leads (Joe & Alice) were very good and I enjoyed those parts of the movie where they interacted the most. Fanning’s character portrayed a sad/guilty girl perfectly, while Joel Courtney, played an innocent wide eyed “every kid” with aplomb. The fathers of the kids were both capable actors too, but were given surprisingly little to do. I wasn’t a huge of the rest of the film making kids. The character Charles came off as bratty and annoying to me. While I’m sure that the young actor playing him will have a good career in the future, for whatever reason, I wasn’t left liking his character or caring about his story or whether he finished his zombie movie. I wasn’t very impressed with the Military “threat” in the town and the origin of the monster didn’t seem to merit the secrecy of the film as a whole. To be perfectly honest, I think the thing I liked most about this film was the look of it, i.e., small Americana town of a bygone era. I’m not entirely off, am I?

  • wacko3205

    I hate to be on the opposing end…but I gotta be that guy. I loved Super 8 & don’t really understand all the grumbles in regards to this one. I loved the way that it was played up, acted, paced, & scripted. The kids were fantastic…all of them & I honestly didn’t think that it was as much of a Spielbergian rip-off as was preached nor was it as flat for me as it was for everyone else. The effects were fantastic & the background on the creature was really cool. Loved the innovation of the ship & the cubes…very unique. I don’t know…I guess I’ll just have to remain in the minority here & say…I loved Super 8 & so did my wife & daughter. It was a goodie for us old foggies. :-)

    • Blain

      You’re not alone. I love it as well. Or maybe I’m just a sucker for films within films :)

    • eduardovictory

      I completely agree, I thought Super 8 delivered what it was meant as: just plain fun summer entertainment. J.J. wasn’t trying to make a movie that would please the Academy, but that would provide a good night out at the movies.

  • junierizzle

    I’ve thought about it over the weekend and as much as I wanted to love SUPER 8, I still feel disappointed. I wanted to love it and I just didn’t. I totally get why people love it but for me it didn’t work.

  • kungfukid

    here’s the thing, if you ever tried to do a “little” movie on your own before, then Super 8 is pretty much irresistible. it’s one of those hang out movies that you’ll still see someday just to hang out with the kids.

    and, come on.. to me super 8 isn’t a film you dissect to acknowledge it’s flaws… i think, because of art films, we sometimes try to criticize popcorn flicks the same way.. which is unfair.. Super 8 wanted you to have a good time at the theater.. where eating a popcorn while watching a movie won’t be a distraction.. it’s a fun movie..

    and i too tried to analyze the film the way other i do to other movies(like at the opening, i thought JJ interestingly chose a slow opening. will it pay off), but then, when we start to hang out with the kids, i no longer cared. after i started laughing hysterically at the gang(maybe because i see myself in them), i threw the analyzing out of the window.. i love this film, no matter how underdeveloped other parts of it were, this movie gave me a great time at the cinema, which popcorn flicks always intended to do..

  • Lance

    You know what? I like to criticize movies, even popcorn films, and I still love Super 8. It’s a movie with more than just mindless explosions.

    I think some people are being hard on it because they’re comparing it to Spielberg’s now legendary early work, but people were criticizing Raiders and ET back in the 80s, too. I have no doubt if Super 8 was released in the 80s it would have been huge.

    These days a film like this needs time to get its audience, and it’ll always seem smaller than something like Green Lantern or Transformers. But I bet more people will remember Super 8 once summer’s over than those two movies.

  • gimpsuit

    Super 8 dissapointed, both box office wise and movie wise.
    Nobody gave a F*#k about the creature, emotionally, that was a huge, core part of the film and honestly I wouldn’t have cared if the military guys nuked the bitch in orbit. As opposed to ET, who made me cry when he went home. Imagine the devastation if the army guys shot ET in the head as he was climbing onboard his ship!!!
    People won’t remember Super 8 becuase it’s not really note worthy. It’s pretty much a standard creature feature that ripped off early Spielberg. Homage, ripoff, whatever.
    Everyone strung Avatar up for having a familiar plot, yet here’s the one ‘original’ film of the summer and it’s a basic creature feature we’ve seen so many times before with classic Spielberg beats. Ummm….

  • Salfie

    I should clarify: I didn’t hate Super 8, I just thought that it could’ve been so much better. The look of the film is really amazing, and I can appreciate what JJ was going for, but overall it didn’t come together for me. I honestly have no criticism of it trying to evoke the feelings of early Spielberg films, I just think that it’s missing something that made those earlier films classics.

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