Over a very muted Independence Day weekend, Transformers: Age of Extinction had no trouble staying on top of the box office. After ten days, the sequel has earned more than $575 million worldwide, putting it on track to become 2014’s biggest global earner before the end of the month. Tammy, the comedy starring Melissa McCarthy, was the frame’s only other notable performer – because this year $21 million counts as notable. As for the rest of the top ten, including new releases Earth to Echo and Deliver Us From Evil, 2014’s July Fourth weekend was one giant traffic jam of mediocrity.
|3.||Deliver Us From Evil||$9,500,000||$15|
|4.||22 Jump Street||$9,400,000||$158.8|
|5.||How to Train Your Dragon 2||$8,750,000||$140|
|6.||Earth to Echo||$8,250,000||$13.5|
|9.||Think Like A Man Too||$4,900,000||$57.1|
|10.||Edge of Tomorrow||$3,640,000||$90.8|
Full story after the jump.
The box office did not exactly inspire fireworks this holiday weekend. At this time last year, overall box office grosses exceeded $225 million and set a new record for the post-Independence Day frame. One year later, grosses came in at just $101 million, or a decline of 44%. The difference can be explained, in part, by the fact that the ‘fourth of July’ fell during the three-day weekend. That matters because, while the July Fourth weekend is typically one of the summer’s most lucrative frames, the actual holiday is not a big movie day. In 2013, the Fourth fell on a Thursday instead of a Friday: one day that made a big difference in terms of box office numbers.
Of course, the calendar wasn’t the only difference. This year’s titles had a lot to do with the sad state of the holiday box office. First up, Warner Bros. Tammy. While a second place debut seems respectable enough, it’s the numbers attached to that opening that are of concern. Tammy was expected to take about $25 million this weekend, or a total of $40 million or more in its first five days. That would have put it behind Melissa McCarthy’s two big hits from 2013 – Identity Thief and The Heat – but because the reported budget for Tammy ($20 million) was lower than either of those films, a lower opening would not have been a barrier to success. In the end, the real barrier proved to be the audience’s reaction to the film. The comedy received a CinemaScore of C+, which is about as low as CinemaScores get. By comparison, Identity Thief received a B from audiences in 2013, even though that movie’s Rotten Tomatoes score was lower than Tammy’s current 26%.
Also coming in lower than expected was Deliver us From Evil. Sony’s supernatural horror film did manage to climb from fifth place on Friday to third place on the weekend chart, but with a three-day estimate that was 50% lower than projections, that’s hardly worth celebrating. Deliver Us From Evil was originally projected to hit $20 million this weekend and just over $30 million for its first five days. Instead, the film has claimed just $15 million since its release on Wednesday, a number that is particularly disappointing when compared to the $41.8 million opening that The Conjuring claimed last July.
Earth to Echo, the weekend’s final new release, also failed to break $10 million this weekend, though it’s difficult to claim that that was a disappointment. A family adventure told through “found footage” (a genre more familiar to fans of horror films like Paranormal Activity), Earth to Echo has no immediately apparent comps. Projections were in the $12 million range for the film’s first weekend, or a total of $18 million in its first five days. Those expectations were based largely on this summer’s oddly subdued market for family films in general, rather than any particular interest in the film itself. At this point, Maleficent alone remains a summer standout, earning over $213 million after six weeks – surpassing both The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Godzilla. Meanwhile, How to Train Your Dragon 2 has yet to break $150 million in the U.S. or $250 million worldwide. And this from the film that was supposed to be the family blockbuster of the summer. With Dragon failing to launch and Maleficent on the decline, there might have been room for Earth to Echo to catch on but, once again, it seems family audiences made other plans.
Just to underscore what a failure this July Fourth weekend ended up being, at this time last year Despicable Me 2 was in first place with $83.5 million – more than twice what Transformers 4 earned in first place this year. Next weekend won’t deliver anything to rival Despicable Me, but at least Dawn of the Planet of the Apes promises to get us closer to what’s expected from a summer opening. The sequel is projected to open with over $65 million: well above the $54.8 million that Rise of the Planet of the Apes earned in August of 2011. Of course, in a summer that seems to be running out of hits earlier than planned, there is also the chance that Dawn will be unable to equal its predecessor. As usual, we’ll let you know how it all plays out.