For years now, studios have used this weekend to launch some of summer’s biggest titles: The Dark Knight, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises. Left without a major marquee release for 2013, however, the box office instead hosted a handful of more marginal titles, including Turbo, Red 2 and R.I.P.D. No surprise, then, that overall receipts were way down from 2012 or that only one film – The Conjuring – made a major impression.
|2.||Despicable Me 2||$25,100,000||$276.2|
|4.||Grown Ups 2||$20,000,000||$79.5|
|9.||World War Z||$5,200,000||$186.9|
What has, so far, been an incredibly lucrative summer hit a bit of a speed bump this weekend. Total earnings were down by almost 20% – no surprise given the fact that, at this time last year, The Dark Knight Rises claimed the fourth-highest debut of all time with $160.8 million. Of course, few films (in any month) have the potential to open bigger than the final installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy all on their own. Today, in fact, it took the top eight films combined just to equal TDKR. So, caught between the legacy of 2012 and the big news concerning the summer of 2015, is it any wonder that this morning’s box office feels a little dull by comparison?
With that being said, I’m sure the team behind The Conjuring are finding today’s estimates anything but dull. From its 2,903 locations, the New Line/Warner Bros. release earned a reported $41.5 million – topping the $34 million of last month’s The Purge to make The Conjuring the highest horror debut of the year. The opening also beat The Heat’s $39.1 million, making The Conjuring second (for now) to The Hangover Part III on 2013’s list of R-rated debuts.
The fact that The Conjuring was budgeted at just $20 million (a small fraction of a typical summer release) and opened in fewer locations than the majority of the week’s features is even more reason to feel happy for The Conjuring. And, with an unusually high Rotten Tomato rating of 85% (The Purge scored 38%), there is reason to hope that the film can avoid a precipitous drop in its second week (-75% for The Purge). Whatever happens next week, The Conjuring is already a financial success story after only three days in US theatres – and how many summer movies can say the same?
Certainly not R.I.P.D. Among this summer’s box office gambles – World War Z, The Lone Ranger, Pacific Rim – anyone who put their money on R.I.P.D. to fail were in very good company. Based on the Dark Horse comic series, the Universal release starring Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges was not screened for critics in advance – never a good sign. The film boasts a current Rotten Tomato score of 11%, which stands about equal to the comic adaptation it was often compared to: Jonah Hex.
In the summer of 2010, Jonah Hex earned just under $11 million in total – worldwide. So, the good news for R.I.P.D. is that it has already topped one of the box office’s most noted failures… if anyone can rightly call that news ‘good.’ The bad news is that the film cost a reported $130 million and will probably disappear from theatres after next week. Luckily for Universal, Despicable Me 2 is still cleaning up with audiences. The sequel has earned over $540 million worldwide and will likely become the second-highest grossing domestic film of 2013 by this time next week.
The continued success of Despicable Me 2 spelled trouble for Turbo this weekend. The DreamWorks Animation title earned an estimated $21.5 million from 3,806 locations – less than half what the studio realized from The Croods this past March. Turbo opened on Wednesday and claimed $31.2 million in its first five days. But with Gru and the minions still dominating – and Smurfs 2 on the horizon – a ‘Turbo 2’ seems unlikely.
If Jonah Hex was one of 2010’s biggest comic-inspired mistakes, Red was one of its biggest surprises. Based on the limited series from DC Comics, Red was a hit in the fall of that year, earning close to $200 million worldwide by the end of its theatrical run. From its 3,006 locations, Red 2 earned an estimated $18.5 million this weekend. That’s in-line with studio projections for the sequel, but less than the $21.7 million that the original claimed.
Red 2 is also falling short of its predecessor with the critics: scoring a 42% on Rotten Tomatoes compared to the 72% of Red. There is a chance that international audiences, who pushed A Good Day to Die Hard to a strong $304 million worldwide total earlier this year, will embrace Red 2 but, based on today’s estimate, the film has little chance to equal the original’s domestic total.
Thankfully, the box office will host just one major studio release next weekend – Fox’s The Wolverine. Based on the fan-favorite character arc of the fan-favorite X-Man, The Wolverine is expected to open in the $70 million range. That’s less than the $85 million X-Men Origins: Wolverine earned in May 2009 but, as Wolverine fans will attest, that film’s dubious quality damaged the brand. Will The Wolverine get close to Origins’ domestic total? Sound off below.