August 9, 2015

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 8/9/15


OPENINGS:  As expected, FANTASTIC FOUR (20th) plunged 25% on Saturday as word of mouth caught up with it (by comparison, Ant-Man lost just 14% on its 2d day of release), giving it a sad $26.2M weekend.  Things didn’t get any better when international was factored in, as the franchise-killer managed just $34.1M in 43 territories.  Although that doesn’t include China and some other major markets, there’s nothing to suggest any chance of foreign appeal bailing out the movie’s domestic flop.  That failure will have other repercussions:  the sequel already put on Fox’s schedule for summer 2017 is almost certainly DOA, and since this was already a reboot, the characters themselves will probably be gone for years.  On a larger scale, given Fantastic‘s epic fail and the reports that Fox and Marvel have been in discussions about a potential X-Men TV series (which Fox can’t do under its currently licensed rights), one wonders whether Marvel will seize the opportunity to bring the Fox-controlled characters into its Avengers universe, much as Sony agreed to do when it needed to reboot Spider-Man again.  At this point, Fox may be open to the idea, even though it would be a coup for Marvel’s owner Disney.

THE GIFT (Blumhouse/STX) gave its fledgling studio a very respectable start in the distribution business with a $12M weekend, rave reviews, and the chance to turn a profit on its modest investment.  It was particularly noteworthy that The Gift climbed 10% from Friday to Saturday, almost unheard of for a cheapie Blumhouse production, and testament to the thriller’s older-skewing audience and strong word of mouth.

RICKI AND THE FLASH (TriStar/Sony) was a soft $7M starter for Sony’s newly revived TriStar label, although the 13% Friday-to-Saturday bump was encouraging.  Ricki will increase its theatre count by 25% to 2000 next week and hope for positive word of mouth.  (The film’s tonal confusion may hold it back, although the crowd-pleasing ending could help.)

SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE (Lionsgate) trudged to a $4M weekend ($5.6M including Wed-Thurs receipts), and may have been better aimed at the home market.

IRRATIONAL MAN (Sony Classics) expanded to 925 theatres this week, and its studio probably regrets the expense that required.  Woody Allen’s latest barely stirred to less than $900K for the weekend, with a per-theatre average under $1000.  It’s unlikely to get beyond $5M in total US box office, not much better than the $3.2M earned by You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, which never got past a 402-theatre release.

HOLDOVERS:  Probably helped by the collapse of Fantastic Four, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION (Skydance/China Film Channel/Alibaba/Paramount) had a very strong 2d weekend, holding onto its #1 ranking and falling just 47% to $29.4M–even better than the 48% drop for Mission 3, the only other entry in the series to have a conventional Friday opening.  Rogue is at $108.7M in the US, and although it has a face-off with the directly competing The Man From UNCLE next weekend, it should continue to thrive.  The Mission movies have always been hits overseas, and Rogue took in another $63.5M in 58 markets (but not yet China, as well as France, Brazil and Italy) for $156.7M.  Although the $694.7M worldwide gross for Ghost Protocol will still be a stretch, Rogue will have the advantage of being able to retain more of its China box office than previous installments, due to its local co-producers.

Although the 38% Weekend 2 drop to $9.1M for VACATION (Warners) is somewhat misleading–it had opened on the previous Wednesday, which held down its first Friday number–that’s still a very good hold, and suggests a decent if unexciting $60M US total.

The weakness of the weekend’s openings helped the longer running titles, and with one exception, everything in the Top 10 that followed Rogue Nation fell 40% or less.  That included ANT-MAN (Marvel/Disney) down 39% to $7.8M for a $147.4M US total (plus $9.2M in 50 foreign markets for $178.9M); MINIONS (Illumination/Universal) down 40% to $7.4M for a $302.8M US total (plus $18.2M in 64 foreign markets for $609.8M, making it the highest-grossing title of the Despicable Me franchise overseas); TRAINWRECK (Universal) down 34% to $6.3M for a $91.1M US total; and SOUTHPAW (Wanda/Weinstein) down 38% to $4.8M for a $40.7M US total.  The outlier was the woeful PIXELS (Columbia/Sony), down 48% to $5.4M and a US total of $57.6M (plus $73.6M overseas).

LIMITED RELEASE:  Despite critical acclaim, THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL (Sony Classics) had an undistinguished $14K per-theatre average at 4 NY/LA theatres.  THE END OF THE TOUR (A24) expanded to 36 with an OK $7K average.  PHOENIX (IFC) widened to 27 with a $5K average.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The last big action movie of the summer is THE MAN FROM UNCLE (Warners), of which not much is expected.  It could find itself paced by STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (Legendary/Universal), a much less expensive piece of work.  Sundance continues to set the art-house agenda, and two more festival titles arrive in limited release:  MISTRESS AMERICA (Fox Searchlight) and PEOPLE PLACES THINGS (Arcade).


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."