May 24, 2015

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 5/24/15


OPENINGS:  Here’s a telling stat for TOMORROWLAND (Disney):  although the movie was aimed squarely at a family audience, only 30% of the people who showed up were in that demo.  Instead, 60% of the audience was over 25, meaning the older George Clooney fans.  That suggests that Disney marketing wasn’t able to get the job done–partly, no doubt, because the desire to keep the plotline secret didn’t leave much to promote besides Clooney.  However, considering the extremely mixed reviews (49% on Rotten Tomatoes), the plot may not have been much of a selling point even if disclosed.  In any case, Tomorrowland now faces a bleak future, even if it lives up to its optimistic $40.7M 4-day holiday studio estimate.  ($32.1M of that is Fri-Sun, which includes a 22% bump on Saturday and an 11% projected Sunday drop due to the holiday weekend.)  It’s unlikely to get much higher than $100M in the US, and it had a very soft opening abroad with $26.7M in 65 markets that comprise more than half the world.  Even if China eventually gives it a boost, the chances of recouping a production/marketing investment of $350M or so seem long.  Tomorrowland is a very problematic film, but the unfortunate effect of this may be to push Disney even farther into its bunker of producing one pre-sold franchise extravaganza after another.

POLTERGEIST (MGM/20th) cost much less than Tomorrowland, but its production/marketing investment of $150M+ is still pricey by horror movie standards.  Its $23M 3-day weekend ($27.7M with Monday included) puts it below the 3-day starts for Unfriended ($32.3M), Woman In Black 2 ($26.5) and The Lazarus Effect ($25.8M)–all of which were much cheaper to produce, and only 1 of which (Woman) had a holiday weekend to boost its Sunday.  Overseas, Poltergeist had a weak start with $8.3M in 35 markets.

FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD (Fox Searchlight) expanded into semi-wide release at 865 theatres and didn’t create much of a ripple with a 3-day weekend of $2.2M ($2.7M with Monday), suggesting that $10-15M may be its ceiling, not a great result for this wide a release and the marketing costs that entails.

SPY (20th) doesn’t reach the US until early June, but it’s already earned a strong $12.5M in just 10 overseas territories, a sign of big numbers ahead.

HOLDOVERS:  PITCH PERFECT 2 (Gold Circle/Universal) is right behind Tomorrowland for the weekend crown with $30.3M for the 3-day weekend and $37.9M predicted for the full holiday.  On a Fri-Sun basis, it fell 56% from opening weekend, far more frontloaded than the first Pitch Perfect, which dropped only 38% in its 2d wide weekend.  That’s not unexpected for a sequel to a ground-roots hit like Pitch Perfect, and the results can hardly be questioned, since in 10 days of release, the sequel has almost doubled the entire $65M US run of its predecessor, and could climb as high as $200M.  Overseas, Pitch 2 earned $15.2M for a total of $61.7M–and it’s still in just 37 territories representing less than half the world.  On a return on investment basis, Pitch 2 will be one of the most profitable movies of the summer.

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (Village Roadshow/Warners) held fairly well, down 47% from its opening 3 days to $23.8M ($30M projected with Monday).  Nevertheless, that still puts it on track for around $150M in the US, giving it a long road to recoupment of a $350M+ production/marketing investment.  Overseas, Max took in $38.2M in 70 markets that included most of the world (but not China), suggesting that breakeven may be its destination.

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (Marvel/Disney) fell 46% on a Fri-Sun basis to $20.8M in the US ($26.7M expected with Monday), falling significantly faster than the first Avengers, which slid just 34% in its 4th weekend.  Ultron is now more than a $100M behind the first Avengers at $409.9M, and although international box office may make up the difference worldwide (Ultron had a $45.8M overseas weekend, for a $859.8M total), the substitution of Chinese gross for US will make Ultron somewhat less profitable, since Disney retains much less of each box office dollar in China.

HOT PURSUIT (MGM/Warners) fell 39% to $3.4M for Fri-Sun ($4.4M with Monday), and is still unlikely to reach $40M in the US.

LIMITED RELEASE:  I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS (Bleecker Street) expanded to 26 theatres with a fair $10K Fri-Sun per-theatre average.  THE 100-YEAR OLD MAN WHO CLIMBED OUT THE WINDOW AND DISAPPEARED (Music Box) had an $1800 average at 54.  IRIS (Magnolia) averaged $1900 at 65.  SAINT LAURENT (Sony Classics) expanded to 59 theatres with a $1200 average.  WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE (GKids) began well with a $12.5K average at 2 NY/LA theatres, but ALOFT (Sony Classics) never got started with a $1000 average at 2.

NEXT WEEKEND:  SAN ANDREAS (Warners) will feature Dwayne Johnson and another round of CG destruction, while Cameron Crowe’s romance ALOHA (Columbia/Sony) will hope to prove its advance buzz wrong.  GEMMA BOVERY (Music Box) and RESULTS (Magnolia) enter limited release.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."