The Purge: Anarchy may have come in first on Friday but, as expected, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes won the weekend box office race. In its second frame, the sequel earned an estimated $36 million, down just 50% from its debut. Among this summer’s franchise pics only 22 Jump Street had a comparable sophomore hold (-52%), while Transformers 4, Spider-Man, X-Men and Godzilla all fell by 60% or more.
|1.||Dawn of the Planet of the Apes||$36,000,000||$138.9|
|2.||The Purge: Anarchy||$28,369,000||$28.3|
|3.||Planes: Fire & Rescue||$18,000,000||$18|
|5.||Transformers: Age of Extinction||$10,000,000||$227.1|
|7.||22 Jump Street||$4,700,000||$180.5|
|8.||How to Train Your Dragon 2||$3,800,000||$160.6|
|10.||Earth to Echo||$3,260,000||$31.9|
More after the jump.
Unfortunately, good news for Fox’s Apes reboot did not translate into a robust weekend at the box office. Overall earnings were down 25% from this weekend in 2013, when The Conjuring was on top with $41.8 million. The decline is particularly notable because last year’s overall gross of $195 million was itself seen as disappointing. That’s what happens when a weekend becomes associated with Christopher Nolan’s megahits. The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, and Inception all debuted on this particular frame, and both TDK titles went on to place in the top ten domestic earners of all time. It’s clear that few films can generate Nolan-sized numbers on their own, so it’s probably unfair to judge a weekend that comes in below those levels. Still, it’s clearly less exciting to cover a handful of modest releases on a weekend that has hosted giants in the past.
After ten days, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has grossed $138.9 million in North America. Back in 2011, it took Rise of the Planet of the Apes 20 days to reach the same mark. The film has yet to hit most international markets, but in terms of domestic grosses Dawn is a big reason that Fox has become the first studio to hit $1 billion in 2014. Other notable titles from their 2014 schedule include X-Men: Days of Future Past and The Fault in Our Stars.
In second place with an estimated $28.3 million is Universal’s The Purge: Anarchy. Last June the original The Purge caught box office watchers by surprise with its $34 million debut. At the time, that was the biggest opening ever for an original R-rated horror film – until The Conjuring trumped it one month later. Despite its auspicious start, The Purge also had a gigantic drop on its second weekend (-75.6%) and ended its domestic run with just under $65 million. Of course, that was a windfall for a movie with a $3 million budget, which is why Universal lost no time getting the sequel into theatres.
Anarchy got a bigger budget than its predecessor ($9 million), but it also lost stars Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey. With a smaller opening weekend, and another steep sophomore drop likely, it would be surprising if the sequel reached the original’s final domestic gross considering word of mouth doesn’t seem much better this time around. The Purge received a B+ CinemaScore in 2013, compared to Anarchy’s B. And while critical acclaim is not a key to success in the horror genre, the sequel’s 52% Rotten Tomato score is only marginally better than it’s predecessor’s 38%.
Like The Purge 2, Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue also failed to top its predecessor. The sequel to last summer’s Planes (itself a spin-off to Pixar’s lucrative Cars series) opened to an estimated $18 million from 3,826 locations. In 2013 (a summer that had more than its share of animated hits) Planes debuted with $22.2 million, and that was roughly the range that was projected for the sequel. Yet another failure to launch from this summer’s animated fare.
The only non-sequel title in this weekend’s top five is Sex Tape: the R-rated comedy from Sony. The film reunites Bad Teacher stars Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, though that didn’t seem to be a selling point based on this morning’s estimate. From 3,082 locations, Sex Tape earned and estimated $15 million – $5 million under the film’s most conservative pre-release estimate and less than half what Bad Teacher earned in the summer of 2011.
In a summer of well-received R-rated comedies (Neighbors, 22 Jump Street), Sex Tape was apparently a hard sell. The film currently ranks just 20% on Rotten Tomatoes and, despite opening in more theatres, its per-screen average was half of The Purge: Anarchy’s. Way back in 2008, Zack & Miri Make a Porno (with Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks) also got off to a disappointing start ($10 million). That film’s reported budget was also significantly lower than Sex Tape’s, which makes the long-term forecast for the comedy pretty discouraging.
Looking outside the top ten, IFC’s Boyhood expanded its run this weekend and brought in just under $2 million from 33 locations. That’s $36,300 per theatre and counts as one of the highest averages of the year after The Grand Budapest Hotel. Begin Again also continued its expansion this weekend, adding 363 theatres to bring its total to 1,302. After 24 days, The Weinstein Co. comedy has earned just under $9.5 million.
Finally, in its fourth weekend Transformers: Age of Extinction remained in the top five with an estimated $10 million. Though the sequel has earned over $227 million in North America, it still lags behind its predecessors – all of which topped $300 million by the end of their domestic runs. The international outlook is a lot rosier. With $886 million in worldwide grosses, Transformers 4 is on track to match Dark of the Moon’s final global gross of $1.1 billion – the number that made it the most lucrative film of the franchise back in 2011.
Next weekend brings Hercules, starring Dwayne Johnson – the second of this year’s films focusing on the mythic strongman. Back in January Kellan Lutz failed badly with The Legend of Hercules, which failed to reach $20 million in its entire run. The Rock will do better. This time Hercules should hit $20 million in its first weekend. But will that be enough to equal a strong weekend overall ? Not likely.