July 16, 2017

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 7.16.2017


OPENINGS:  The summer saga of underperforming franchise titles continued with WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (TSG/20th), with a $56.5M start that’s 22% below the $72.6M opening for Dawn 3 years ago, and just barely ahead of the $54.8M for 2011’s Rise (despite costing $60M more to produce than Rise).  Even with rave reviews, its Saturday drop was 13%, worse than Rise and Dawn‘s 1%/8%, which suggests word of mouth may not have been as strong among audiences as among critics.  War seems to be headed to $150M in the US.  Overseas, although War is in 61 markets, those reportedly cover just one-third of international box office, and notably don’t include China, which has begun its midsummer blackout of Hollywood titles (the next scheduled opening is Dunkirk on September 1).  War had a $46M start, and that number will get much bigger, but will probably be closer to Rise‘s $305M than Dawn‘s $502.1M.  With around $275M in production/marketing costs, War should be profitable, but the viability of further installments is in question.

THE BIG SICK (Amazon/Lionsgate) made its move to wide release at 2597 theatres, and found a moderate response at $7.6M.  We’ll see if word of mouth can push it past $30M in the US, a number that wouldn’t get it to profit if the reported $32M in acquisition and marketing costs are accurate.

WISH UPON (Broad Green), a disposable piece of low-budget horror, was treated that way by audiences with a $5.6M opening.

HOLDOVERS:  SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (Marvel/Columbia/Sony) was expected to hold better than a 61% drop in its 2d weekend (to $45.2M).  That’s almost identical to the Weekend 2 declines for Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which were generally considered inferior entries in the series (and ended their versions of the franchise), and although it’s not a bad drop compared to other Marvel offerings (60% for Captain America: Civil War, 59% for Avengers: Age of Ultron, 58% for Iron Man 3), it’s worse than this summer’s 56% for Guardians Of the Galaxy Vol 2, let alone the 43% for Wonder Woman.  Passing $300M in the US now seems like a 50/50 shot.  Overseas, it’s also a victim of the Chinese blackout, and it’s at $261.1M after a $72.3M weekend in 63 markets.  At $750M or so worldwide, it will certainly be a hit, just not the phenomenon that seemed possible 10 days ago.

DESPICABLE ME 3 (Illumination/Universal) has the family market more or less to itself right now, and it dropped 44% to $18.9M, still on track for a franchise-low $225M in the US.  Overseas, things are summer, with a total to date of $431.4M after a $71M weekend in 61 territories (including China, but not yet Japan).  It seems to be heading for $850M worldwide, below Minions and Despicable Me 2.

BABY DRIVER (MRC/TriStar/Sony) is holding like a sleeper hit should, down just 33% to $8.8M, and with a chance to hit 9 digits in the US.  Overseas, it’s in only 18 markets, and is at $23.1M after a $6.2M weekend.

WONDER WOMAN (RatPac/Wanda/Tencent/DC/Warners) dipped a mere 30% in its 7th weekend to $6.9M, and is about a week away from passing Guardians 2 as the #1 movie of the US summer, possibly even reaching $400M.  Overseas, it’s nearing the end of its run with a $3.3M weekend in 61 markets (Japan still to come), putting its international total at $384.2M.

CARS 3 (Pixar/Disney) continued on its road to $150M in the US, down 41% to $3.2M.  It’s still in gradual overseas release, and is at $82.9M after a $20.1M weekend in 33 territories.

One of the under-reported box office stories of the summer is the way international performance has been dropping for big franchise titles.  TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT (Huahua/Paramount) is unlikely to get much past $130M in the US, and although that will be an ugly 47% drop from Age of Extinction, it’s only a moderate surprise.  But overseas, Age of Extinction earned $858.6M, while Last Knight is at only $392.4M ($225M of it from China) after a $6.7M weekend, and even if it can match Age of Extinction in its remaining territories of Brazil, Mexico, Spain and Japan (unlikely), it would only get to around $500M, an awful 42% plunge.  This is how franchises die.  (See also Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, down 30% in the US, and also down 28% overseas.)

LIMITED RELEASE:  LADY MACBETH (Roadside) had an OK start with a $14K per-theatre average at 5 NY/LA arthouses (boosted in part by in-theatre appearances by the star).  A GHOST STORY (A24) widened to 20 theatres and averaged a soft $7300.  THE LITTLE HOURS (Gunpowder & Sky) expanded to 105 theatres with a $3K average.  MAUDIE (Sony Classics), now in 99 theatres, averaged $2600.  LOST IN PARIS (Oscilloscope) averaged $2100 at 38.  The documentary CITY OF GHOSTS (IFC) averaged $2400 at 11.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The final true blockbuster weekend of summer has a pair of intriguing openings, Christopher Nolan’s WWII epic DUNKIRK (Warners), and Luc Besson’s phantasmagorical VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS (Europa/STX).  They’ll be counterprogrammed by the R-rated comedy GIRLS TRIP (Universal).  Limited releases include Sundance veteran LANDLINE (Magnolia).


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."