Sunday, 9 June 2013

U.S Box Office Report - January - May 2013

1. Iron Man 3 - $390M
2. Oz, The Great and Powerful - $233M
3. Star Trek Into Darkness - $191M
4. Fast & Furious 6 - $189M
5. The Croods - $180M
6. Identity Thief - $134M
7. The Great Gatsby - $133M
8. G.I Joe: Retaliation - $121M
9. Olympus Has Fallen - $97.9M
10. The Hangover Part 3 - $97.3M

All figures taken as of today, June 9th 2013.

Where were we?

May generally signifies the start of the summer blockbuster season, though in the last few years, the last week in April has crept into play. The May of 2013 showed little sign of breaking tradition, with the third Iron Man flick, the Star Trek sequel and what was said to be the finale to the Hangover series, all making their bow. But before we discuss the successes and failures of the month, let's take a look at the state of the box office in the months leading up to May.

Bypassing the holdovers of 2012, the first splash (albeit a minor one) of 2013 was Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D. The horror feature, which attempted to explain the history behind one of cinemas most iconic creations got off to a solid start, making $21M over its first three days on general release. That success was short lived however, and a week on the film dropped all the way to eighth place, vanishing altogether by weekend three. It barely received an overseas release and was done and dusted in North America with $34M.

Horror dominated the top ten not once but twice more in that first month of 2013, with turns from the Guillermo Del Toro produced, Mama and the long delayed Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. The former featured Jessica Chastain, who was already riding high with Zero Dark Thirty (Mama actually knocked the Kathryn Bigelow thriller out of the top spot), and helped push the film to a near budget doubling $28M opening frame. A week later and the Witch Hunters Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton managed a $25M start, which wasn't too bad considering the reviews and average word of mouth. Mama would finish up in early April with $71M (from a budget of $15M) while Hansel & Gretel made a somewhat subdued $55M, but cleaned up overseas to the tune of $170M (which is what secured it a potential sequel).

February began in a similar vein, with the zombie romance Warm Bodies making $20M over its first three days thanks to decent marketing and a different take on the zombie genre. It was also the first real test for star Nicholas Hoult, who would shortly appear in the big budget Jack The Giant Slayer (more below). The 'zom-rom' finished up in North America with $66M, adding another $50M abroad (against a production budget of $35M). Building on her star-making role in Bridesmaids, Melissa McCarthy helped turn the critically mauled Identity Thief into a hit straight out of of the gate. With assistance from Jason Bateman, McCarthy saw the February 8th opener make a very strong $34M over its first weekend (almost $8M more than what the aforementioned Bridesmaids collected during its first three days). It would go on to become the first film of 2013 to clear $100M at the domestic box office and makes her upcoming reunion with director Paul Feig on The Heat, one to keep a close eye on.

While it's reign at the top would be short lived (or so it seemed), Identity Thief gave the fifth Die Hard movie a good run for its money - just over a million dollars separated the two during A Good Day to Die Hard's opening frame. Of the other releases on that busy weekend, the Nicholas Sparks' romantic drama Safe Haven did sterling Valentine business to the tune of $21M but the family film market gave the Weinstein's Escape From Planet Earth a wide berth, and it earnt only $15M. Die Hard aside, the potential franchise starter Beautiful Creatures failed to break the fantasy novel curse, making only $7.5M off a budget of around $60M. It would remain in the top ten for just one more week. All up, Haven made $71M, Escape $56M and Creatures a lowly $19.4M. As expected, A Good Day to Die Hard collapsed a week later, allowing Identity Theft back into the number one place, while Snitch, a new action drama featuring The Rock slotted into second with $13.1M (It would end up with an ok $42M domestically, with overseas figures yet to be factored in due to a staggered release pattern).

As March got underway, we saw the release of what would go on to become one of the bigger failures of the year - Jack The Giant Slayer. Starring Nicholas Hoult and Ewan McGregor,  the big budget fantasy was directed by Bryan Singer, though he wasn't the first person put up for the job. DJ Caruso was originally attached in 2009, but dropped out some time later, to be replaced by Singer, who bought in Christopher McQuarrie to re-write the script almost from scratch. (Singer had actually planned on directing X-Men: First Class, so the rumour goes, but was under contract to work on Jack The Giant Slayer, leaving Matthew Vaughn to helm the mutant feature). Production costs ran just shy of $200M, but a lacklustre trailer and marketing campaign did little to interest the public. It opened to a very soft $27M, before tailing off quickly in subsequent weeks. By the start of June it had made only $65M in North America, and even the overseas market wasn't there to help this time around. As of now, Jack has made $197M - enough to cover initial costs but little more. Comparisons to Battleship and similar costly flops seemed well placed.

Around the corner was arguably an even bigger gamble for all concerned in the guise of Sam Raimi's Oz, The Great and Powerful. A $215M prequel to the fabled Wizard of Oz, the flick saw James Franco as the titular character, supported by Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis, with a motion captured turn from Zach Braff. Trailers had a distinct Alice In Wonderland vibe about them, and the slightly above average reviews did little to calm nerves. Estimates were up in the air, though Disney appeared confident that they would not be seeing a repeat of the March 2012 disaster that was John Carter. Oz opened to a spectacular $79.1M and went on to become the first film of 2013 to break the $200M barrier (it currently has a $233M total). The relief was palpable. Its domestic showing was shored up by a good, though not great, $257M international tally and at the time of writing, Oz The Great and Powerful is the second biggest film of 2013.

Oz held on to the top spot for a further week, before it was displaced by Dreamworks' The Croods, which marked the first animated film released via the studio's new deal with Fox. The film started life as Crood Awakening, part of the five picture deal Dreamworks had with Aardman Animation. After the two parted ways, the studio held on to the script, which was subsequently re-written when Chris Sanders came on board. However, production was held up when Sanders went off to direct How To Train Your Dragon.  Eventually, everything got back on track and The Croods was finally released on March 22nd. With the family market having only Escape From Planet Earth to occupy them in the past few months, they were more than ready for The Croods, something its $43M opening confirmed. It easily kept R-rated actioner Olympus Has Fallen from the top of the chart too, though the Gerard Butler film was no slouch either, debuting to $30M. Thanks to a lack of competition in the intervening weeks, the animated feature has managed to make a decent amount of money, and at the time of writing is sitting approximately $30M shy of $600M in total global ticket sales. (Olympus made $97M in North America during its run, which is all but at an end).

March had one final card to play, and that came in the form of the long delayed G.I Joe sequel, Retaliation. Originally set to be a summer 2012 release, the film was pushed back while a 3D conversion took place. There were also rumours that Channing Tatum's role would be expanded, but this appeared to be unfounded when the picture was eventually released. Retaliation couldn't scrape past the opening figure of the first movie (and that didn't have the 3D surcharge on its side) but the studio seemed pleased enough with its $40M debut - especially with the knowledge that The Rock was a big draw overseas. When all is said and done, G.I Joe: Retaliation will fall short of the $150M made by its predecessor, but another $240M abroad should keep the wolf from the door, so to speak. Given this first sequel came as something as a surprise, it'll be interesting to see if Paramount decide to move forward with a further entry in the series.

As March moved into April, the horror genre reared its head again in the form of the Evil Dead remake. The incredibly bloody film, produced by original Evil Dead director Sam Raimi, reviewed well for the genre (62% positive at Rotten Tomatoes) and more than covered its $17M production budget during its opening frame (it took $25M over its first three days). It performed ok overseas too, adding another $41M to its $55M domestic haul. A sequel is currently in the early stages of development, with a second sequel rumoured to be a cross over with the original Bruce Campbell series. Another blast from the past got an airing the same weekend - Jurassic Park 3D made an impressive $18.6M, dropping into fourth place behind The Croods and G.I Joe 2. The 3D re-release enabled the picture to cross the $400M barrier in total lifetime ticket sales.

42, a baseball drama starring Harrison Ford and Chadwick Boseman was barely tracking on most people's radars, but they soon sat up and took notice when it opened to $27.4M during the April 12-14 weekend period. In the process, it saw fit to hold Scary Movie 5 to a second place finish, the horror-spoof seeing a series' low opening of just $14.1M (it's final gross wasn't any better, at $31.4M). 42 stayed in the top ten for a further six weeks and will end its run with around with $92M. Summer season was just a fortnight away at this point, but there were still two major movies to come. Tom Cruise returned to the science fiction genre in Joseph Kosinski's Oblivion, a tale about a seemingly not-so deserted earth. Despite an impressive trailer and soundtrack, Cruise was unable to open the picture above $40M in North America, and it quickly faded upon Iron Man's arrival in early May. Even overseas, where the actor is generally a reliable draw, the film didn't quite reach the heights Universal were hoping for on their $120M investment. While the flick is still on general release, it is only in a handful of theatres, and currently sits on an $88M domestic total (a further $186M coming overseas).

In what was seen as an unusual move, Michael Bay went low budget (relatively speaking) for Pain & Gain, a true-life black comedy-drama that starred Mark Wahlberg and The Rock (marking his third release of 2013). Produced for $26M (the smallest budget the director has worked with since his debut Bad Boys), Pain & Gain still looked like a Michael Bay feature, but the general public weren't as interested it seems, if things didn't turn into robots and explode. Reviews were just below average and some good notices for Wahlberg (who will reunite with Bay for Transformers 4) helped the film open to an ok $20M. Like Oblivion, it is still at a limited amount of theatres, and currently sits on a $49M total.

And with that, we come to May, and what turned out to be some of the biggest releases of the year so far. But just before we get to them, a quick look at some of the films that didn't make much of an impact with the general public. The first came as the new year was barely through the door. The Last Stand marked the proper return to the screen for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yet despite all the hype and publicity, it limped to a $6M opening and at one point during that first weekend looked like it may not even finish within the top ten (it ultimately made it into ninth place). A week later and it was gone. The delayed Gangster Squad did less then stellar business despite an impressive cast that included Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn and Josh Brolin. Made for $60M, it rounded its run out with a $46M total. Similarly, Broken City, which featured Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe, opened to $8M and closed with $19M. In the same month, the Jason Statham starrer Parker, and the ensemble comedy Movie 43, both crashed and burned, making $17M and $8.8M during their respective runs.

February saw the return of two more actions heroes, neither with much to write home about. Sylvester Stallone's Bullet to the Head, which saw the return of Walter Hill to theatrical directing, made just $9.4M in its short run, while the aforementioned A Good Day To Die Hard closed with $67M in the US, but managed a solid $237M internationally. Dead Man Down, featuring Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace, struggled to $10M in its entire theatrical run, witnessing only one frame inside the top ten. Mid-March bought us The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. On paper, the tale of a failing magician (played by Steve Carrell) and a new rival (Jim Carrey) should have been a solid comedy hit, especially with support from Olivia Wilde, Steve Buscemi and Alan Arkin, but it crashed out the gate to a $10M opening. Seven weekends later, it had made just $22M, still $8M short of its modest budget. The Host, the only non-vampire themed Stephanie Myers book to date, failed to make much headway either, opening to $10M. It fell out the top ten a fortnight later and ended its domestic run with a $26M total. Finally, ensemble comedy The Big Wedding, which featured Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl and Diana Keaton, amongst many others, barely cleared $20M in its short run. There were other failures and minor success stories, in the early part of 2013, but for now, we move on to May, and Iron Man 3.

Following up the $1.5B earning Avengers was never going to be an easy task. During that film's production, Marvel announced that the first picture of Phase Two would be the return of Tony Stark. Phase one of the studio's plan had included The Incredible Hulk, Captain America and Thor, along with the first two Jon Favreau directed Iron Man pictures. All this ground work led to the smash hit Avengers movie in the summer of 2012. Favreau opted not to return to the franchise a third time, with Shane Black being hired to co-write (with Drew Pearce) and direct. Robert Downey Jnr would return, as would Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle. Jon Favreau would once again play Happy Hogan, as well as acting as executive producer.  Black also hired Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley and Rebecca Hall to round out the cast. In an attempt to separate the film from The Avengers, none of Stark's superhero friends would return, neither would Samuel L Jackson's Nick Fury or Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow (who had made her Marvel debut in the second Iron Man movie). The film would see Stark facing off against The Mandarin, a terrorist hell bent on bringing death and destruction to the world, and would include elements of the Extremis comic book storyline.

The first trailer for Iron Man 3 appeared in October 2012 and showed a much darker storyline, with Stark stripped of his trademark armour and facing a formidable foe. A second trailer in March built on this, and the hype machine stepped into full gear as its May release approached. Being first out the gate meant the film would face little competition in its opening frame (and The Great Gatsby in week two wasn't expected to give the flick any problems either). In a move that seems increasingly popular, Iron Man 3 opened internationally over a week before it hit domestic screens, to incredible success. It debuted at number one in every territory in which it opened, out-grossing The Avengers in a number of locales. By the end of its first domestic weekend, its overseas tally was already over half a billion dollars. In North America the picture opened to the second highest weekend take in history, with only Marvel's 2012 mash up having made more money. As the dust settled on its first three days, the Iron Man sequel was sitting on a $174M total, and by day six, had already surpassed $200M. A week later it added a further $72M, and even against Star Trek Into Darkness, scored $35M. All the while, its international grosses were rising and it soon crossed the $1 billion dollar mark. At the time of writing, it's the fifth biggest film on the All Time Worldwide chart (not adjusted for inflation), and the seventeenth in terms of US grosses (It will need to make more than $423M to crack the top ten). Iron Man 3 has been a staggering success and looks likely to be the biggest film of 2013. At the time of writing its domestic figure stands at $390M, with another $795M earnt in the overseas market. Next up for Phase Two is Thor: The Dark World, in November of this year, followed by Captain America: The Winter Soldier in the summer of 2014.

A week later saw Baz Luhrmann return to theatres with his adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. The movie, which starred Tobey Maguire, Leonardo Di Caprio and Carey Muliigan had been moved from its original Christmas 2012 release date to a May slot, and left many wondering if it had the chops to compete with some of the more showier releases it would now face. Luhrmann had first joined the project in 2010, relocating to Manhattan in September with a view to shoot the picture there (he would ultimately opt for Sydney). In a surprise turn, The Great Gatsby would also be shot in 3D and feature a modern soundtrack overseen by Jay Z, despite remaining loyal to its 1920s setting. While The Great Gatsby is considered a classic of American literature, the first footage left some unsure if Lurhmann could make it all work and despite some solid performances, nerves at Warner Bros. were still on edge as the film's release date loomed large (especially with a $100M+ price tag attached). The situation wasn't helped by the distinctly average reviews the picture was receiving from the mainstream press. As mentioned with Iron Man 3, the advantage of opening early in the summer is the limited competition. The top ten is generally made up of one or two new releases and a number of April holdovers. The Great Gatsby quickly dispelled any fears when it opened to an impressive $50M during its first weekend - out-grossing the entire domestic run of Luhrmann's previous film, Australia, in the process (in fact, it would become the director's most successful film in North America in just five days). By weekend three it had crossed $100M and currently sits on a $133M total, with an additional $120M overseas. It certainly looks as though the move from Christmas to Summer paid off for Gatsby and all concerned.

JJ Abrams successfully rebooted the Star Trek franchise in 2009 to the tune of $257M, putting his own mark on the series and introducing us to a familiar, yet all new Enterprise crew. It also enabled something of a fresh start for Star Trek, meaning that a sequel could go in almost any direction it wished. Abrams didn't commit to the sequel immediately, beginning work instead on 2011's Super 8. With a release date looming, Paramount announced Abrams would return for Star Trek Into Darkness (as it became known), and they would push the release window back into 2013. The principle cast would return and as is the norm for Abrams, the shoot itself was shrouded in secrecy save for a few shots of Zachary Quinto's Spock fighting Benedict Cumberbatch's as yet unknown villain. Reviews this time around weren't quite a strong, but an 87% approval rating still wasn't to be sniffed at. With Iron Man 3 still a dangerous competitor, Star Trek Into Darkness opened to $70M on May 16th - a solid enough figure but around $5M less than what the original made in the same time period, leading some to deem the film's performance a disappointment. Unlike IM3, Into Darkness had little breathing space before the dual onslaught of The Hangover Part 3 and the sixth Fast & Furious movie, yet weathered the situation quite well, dipping 46% in frame 2. Now in weekend four, the sequel is expected to clear $200M, but is unlikely to come within $30M of what its predecessor ultimately made. Internationally the film isn't quite as strong, having made close to $150M to date. With Abrams moving on to the Star Wars series, there has been little mention of a third Star Trek film as yet, the studio perhaps waiting to see final numbers.

Things cranked up a notch in the fourth weekend of May, with three major releases entering the fray. Along with Fast & Furious 6 and The Hangover Part 3, Fox released the Blue Sky Studios' production, Epic. Having made a name with the Ice Age series, along with 2011's Rio (whose sequel is due 2014), solid numbers were expected of the picture, more so given the complete lack of competition for the family market at that point. However it was not to be, and Epic made only $33M during its opening weekend, less even than their 2005 release, Robots. Since then it has picked up some business and should scrape to $100M in North America (which is around what the film cost to produce) but will end up being a disappointment overall. Even overseas, where Blue Sky have seen incredibly success, especially with the Ice Age series, the picture is struggling, barely surpassing its domestic tally.

The other two release that weekend led many to wonder why their respective studios had opted to have them face off against each other considering they would attract the almost exact same demographic. Would one picture neuter the other? Fast & Furious 6 certainly seemed to be in the stronger position. The well received fifth movie had made an impressive $209M in the summer of 2011, and this latest entry looked to be ramping the action up even higher. On the flip-side, The Hangover Part 3 had to shake off a lot of the bad feeling created by its predecessor, which was little more than a meaner spirited retread of the original movie (though it's worth noting that despite being poorly received, The Hangover Part 2 made $586M worldwide). Warner Bros. promised that this was the final part of the trilogy, and made an effort to differentiate the plot from that of the first two movies. In the end, there was a very clear winner and loser. Fast & Furious 6 set a series best opening with $97.3M and is on track to clear $200M in its third weekend on general release. The news abroad is even better, with the picture having made over $300M to date. Fast & Furious 7 is already in pre-production for release next summer and is rumoured to be the final entry in the series. Meanwhile, the third Hangover flick struggled to a $41M opening weekend ($53M if you factor in its Thursday take). When you consider the second picture made $85M in its first three days, one starts to see just how poorly the new entry had stood up (It would take The Hangover Part 3 eleven days to finally surpass that figure). There's even a chance that the film will have fallen out of the top ten in only its third weekend on release. A finish of around $125M is on the cards domestically, with between $150-200M expected internationally (it is currently at around $110M).

Which brings us to the final weekend in May, and the return of M. Night Shymalan with After Earth. Based on a story by Gary Whitta, the film starred the father and son combo of Will and Jaden Smith as two futuristic warriors crash-landed on an abandoned earth. Young Smith faced a race against time to save his injured father, learning something about what it means to be a warrior in the process. It faced off against the magic heist movie, Now You See Me, which starred Morgan Freeman, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and Isla Fisher. Estimates had After Earth besting Now You See Me, but both movies losing out on the top spot to a still strong Fast & Furious 6. However, After Earth stumbled out the gate and failed to recover, and while Now You See Me only beat the film by a few million dollars when all was said and done, it was still seen as a major failing for Shymalan's flick (and something of a victory for the other). At the time of writing, After Earth has made $38.7M and was off a sharp 66% on its already lacklustre opening day, a week on. In comparison, Now You See Me was off 40% in the same time period, and carries a much smaller budget ($75M against AE's $130M). However, all is not lost just yet, as Smith still has a huge following overseas, one which helped Men In Black 3 to $445M.

And with that, June was upon us. Early signs are of another upset, with the low budget horror/thriller The Purge, set to royally trounce the Owen Wilson/Vince Vaughn reunion that is The Internship (The former made $16M on Friday, while the latter could muster just $6M). Beyond this weekend, the ensemble comedy This Is The End opens on Wednesday, and is quickly followed Friday by one of the most eagerly anticipated movies of the summer in the guise of Man of Steel. Opening estimates on that one veer wildly from $70-120M. Some already claim Warner Bros. are purposely low-balling the film's prospects (they estimate a $75M weekend) in order to hopefully claim an even bigger victory. The following week brings the release of the now infamous World War Z, a film plagued by some of the worst production problems in recent years, but one that has also picked up some solid early notices. Pitt and the zombies will face off against another type of creature in the guise of Pixar's first prequel, Monsters University. June gets rounded out with the Sandra Bullock/Melissa McCarthy comedy, The Heat, and the second attack on the nation's capital in Channing Tatum/Jamie Foxx actioner, White House Down.


Summer is just getting started....

2 comments:

Yankeefan91 said...

First thing i've read on here, but I'll be reading from now on. This was a great recap of the year thus far that despite being long was so well written that it felt much shorter. I liked how you covered everything big and small through the year.

pan mer said...

good to have the best back