Box Office: 'The Wolverine' Tops With "Soft" $55 Million Debut Jul 28th 2013, 15:13
This is one of those weekends where a lot of context is needed, so I hope you'll bare with me for a moment. There have been six X-Men pictures released since 2000. Three of them, this weekend's The Wolverine (review), the original X-Men, and 2011′s X-Men: First Class, have opened at around $55 million. Two of them, X2: X-Men United and X-Men Origins: Wolverine have debuted with around $85 million while X-Men: The Last Stand earned $102 million over Fri-Sun and $122 million over Fri-Mon of Memorial Day 2006. So, first and foremost, the fact that The Wolverine debuted this weekend with $55 million merely means that it exists on the lower half of X-Men debuts. Inflation and the 3D-bump aside, it is still consistent in terms of the franchise history.
Also of note, while The Wolverine is opening at around 65% of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it also cost around 80% of what that picture cost. It also stands to gross exponentially more than the $373 million that X-Men Origins: Wolverine earned worldwide due to four years of overseas box office expansion and the invaluable 3D conversion. If 20th Century Fox thought a second Hugh Jackman-as-Logan adventure was going to return the franchise to X2 heights, they wouldn't have opened it in late July and they wouldn't have made it so cheaply. But they did and they did, so anyone who thought that Fox was expecting another $85 million debut is well, probably very wrong.
This solid B-movie action drama was merely the franchise placeholder to whet fans' appetites for next year's class reunion. Fox is biding its time, presuming that X-Men: Days of Future Past will play like Fast & Furious ("Hey, the whole band is back together!") and close out summer 2014 with a bang. While you'll be reading a few more X-Men comparisons, the real template for this one is basically G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Paramount rebounded from a disliked but somewhat financially successful first film by going cheaper and adding 3D to snag foreign grosses. The gambit worked, as G.I. Joe 2 had a smaller domestic opening and a smaller domestic gross than The Rise of Cobra but made noticeably more overseas for an overall higher worldwide gross ($371 million vs. $300 million) on a somewhat smaller budget ($130 million vs. $175 million).
The good news is that unlike G.I. Joe: Retaliation (and Fox's own 'do it on the cheap' A Good Day To Die Hard), The Wolverine doesn't feel small-scale and borderline direct-to-DVD and it's actually an improvement over its predecessor. Not that a quality upswing will matter for this film, as the X-Men franchise has the worst legs of any major franchise outside of the Harry Potter and Twilight films. X-Men had a 2.8x weekend-to-final domestic multiplier ($54m/$157m), X2 had a 2.5x multiplier ($85m/$215m), X-Men: The Last Stand had a mediocre 2.2x multiplier ($102m/$235m), Wolverine had a horrible 2.11x multiplier ($85m/$179m), and X-Men: First Class rebounded just a tad with a 2.6x multiplier ($55m/$146m).
So the final domestic gross for The Wolverine looks to fall over/under 2.5x, for over/under $140 million. Which isn't too bad when you acknowledge that the film had absolutely nothing to sell other than Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine for the sixth time. There was no marquee villain or major 'added value element' to entice moviegoers, just the pure drawing power of Jackman as Wolverine yet again. Sadly, the other wide release of the weekend, The To-Do List, failed to make much of an impact. The terrific Aubrey Plaza coming-of-age sex comedy earned just $1.5 million on 591 screens. On the plus side, the film cost just $1.2 million. Let's hope it becomes a cult film and/or a favorite for teen girl sleepovers right alongside Pitch Perfect.
In what may be the real "big news" of the weekend, Warner Bros. The Conjuring dropped just 47% in weekend two, a drop basically unheard of for a horror film in today's climate. For comparison, The Purge, Texas Chainsaw 3D, and The Devil Inside all dropped around 75% in weekend two while Evil Dead dropped 63%. Even Mama and The Strangers dropped around 55% in their second frame. For a horror film to open near the top of the horror record books and hold steady in weekend two ($22 million in its second weekend) is eye-popping. In ten days, the $20 million possession thriller has earned $82 million, making it already the seventh-highest-grossing R-rated supernatural horror films of all-time. It will easily cross $100 million and may even challenge The Blair Witch Project ($140 million) for the number two R-rated non-sequel horror film outside of The Exorcist.
It looks like Warner Bros. had its annual mid-July summer smash after all, it just wasn't Pacific Rim. Pacific Rim fell another 53% in weekend two, grossing $7.5 million for a $84 million 17-day total. It's crossed $200 million worldwide, so it may be an eventual break-even picture if it can cross $300 million and if all of the hard-cores bother to buy the Blu Ray when the time comes, but the picture is destined to be an example of 'just for the converted'. The world spins on. In limited release, Woody Allen's Jasmine Blue debuted with a scorching $102,128 per-screen on six screens. That's his highest per-screen average ever, and the third biggest such for a film playing on six or more screens. Of course, pretty much every Woody Allen film opens to gangbusters limited release figures, but time will tell if this is another Match Point or Scoop.
Fruitvale Station successfully expanded to over 1,000 screens this weekend, earning a solid $4.66 million for its troubles. The true-life drama about the wrongful death of a young black man at the hands of a beat cop has now grossed an impressive $6.34 million. Where it goes from here is a matter of keeping up the momentum into the Oscar season. Despicable Me crossed $300 million today, the sixth animated film to do so and the first for a non-Pixar/Disney or Dreamworks title. It surpassed Man Of Steel ($286 million as of today) as the year's second-biggest domestic grosser and it's burning up the overseas charts too with $660.9 million worldwide. However, it's not going to be playing in China (China is limiting the number of American animated films), so it can only fly so high at this point. Still, it's the third-biggest film worldwide of 2013 behind Iron Man 3 and Universal's own Fast & Furious 6, which debuted with $24 million in China this weekend, bumping its worldwide cume to $741 million.
The Heat is also hanging tough, with a $6.8 million weekend (-26%) for a robust $141 million total. The film just passed Identity Thief to become the year's highest grossing comedy. Wow, the star of Identity Thief is going to be pissed… Last weekend's mega-bomb R.I.P.D. dropped 54% for a $5.8 million second weekend. Frankly, I thought the drop would be worse, but the $130 million+ supernatural action comedy has now earned $24 million domestic. More troubling was the 48% drop for Red 2, which earned $9.4 million off of a $18 million debut weekend. The film has $35 million and won't come anywhere near the $90 million that the leggy Red finished with. That would be fine if the film cost the same $57 million as Red, but Summit had to go and spend $84 million this time.
Turbo earned another $13.33 million, down a not great 37% off a lower-than-expected $21 million debut. With $55 million in the can, this may be the first Dreamworks film not to cross $100 million since Flushed Away back in 2006. Now only Fox's foreign muscle can save it. The Way, Way Back expanded to 889 theaters and earned $3.3 million for its troubles. That brings the coming-of-age story's total to $8.9 million, or about what it could have made in one weekend with a decent semi-wide release. Monsters University now has $576 million worldwide while The Lone Ranger has $167 million worldwide. World War Z is now at $192 million, Star Trek Into Darkness still sits at $225 million, while Pain and Gain has been sitting at the $49 million mark for about a month now. Someone cut Paramount a check to get that one over $50 million!
And that's it for this weekend. Join us next time for The Smurfs 2: Smurf Into Darkness (Gargamel planned to get caught the whole time! Papa Smurf, look out behind you! Noooooooooo!) and the Denzel Washington/Mark Wahlberg action film 2 Guns (I have no jokes for that one).
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