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David Poland

By David Poland

20 Weeks Of Summer: 6 Weeks In

There have been 13 wide releases (over 1,000 screens) since May 2 this year.

Four of them have each grossed over $300m worldwide so far.

Two more are over $100 million… so far… with a third well on its way. And all three of these films are almost sure to be over $200 million worldwide when all is said and done.

Domestically, there has not yet been a $200 million grosser, though X-Men: Days of Future Past should be there by the end of this next weekend, passing the current #1 summer film, Amazing Spider-Man 2… which should get to $200m by June 23. Godzilla also still has a shot at the landmark.

There are also three more likely $200m domestic films coming in the next 5 weeks (Dragon 2, Trannies 4, and Apes Rise 2). So perhaps that particular concern can be put to bed by the media about now. However… there were two films over $350m domestic last summer… and it’s not clear at all whether we can hope for more than one this summer.

But gross is an external marker. Profitability is what this is all about. One thing we know for sure… the two current $600m+ worldwide grossers (Spidey & X-Men) will be profitable. Neighbors at $225m and The Fault In Our Stars (currently at $75m) will be very profitable. Maleficent is likely to get to black (perhaps better) and Japan will pretty surely put Godzilla into the black. The relatively inexpensive Million Dollar Arm should also find black ink internationally, when it finally lands in countries like India. Edge of Tomorrow was a bit soft opening domestically, but the international numbers are strong and word-of-mouth should be strong, so I expect that film to be profitable too. (And please note, I am taking non-theatrical revenues and marketing costs into account.)

So what’s going to lose money? Blended… even with a lower-than-usual budget for Adam Sandler. Money loser. A Million Ways to Die in the West… money loser.

That leaves the last 3 films, which are all non-studio wide releases: Chef, Mom’s Night Out, Legends of Oz… and without access to the deals involved with the distribution of these films, it’s impossible to know who will make money and who will lose money.

How does the first third of this summer compare to the same period last summer? Pretty even. There is no Iron Man 3 this year. That is the only legit argument against this early summer. But aside from that, pretty even. This year, we’ve had 2 more wide releases… but this year’s additions are at the bottom of the box office chart, so that variation is negligible.

2013 had seven $100m domestic grossers from this period… so will we.

Middle-grosssers, which used to be $80m or so and are now in the low 100s, are running a bit hotter this summer so far. The over-200m films will have similar numbers. But again, we’re missing the mega-smash at the top of the summer.

Seven of Summer 2013’s $100m+ domestic grossers happened in the 2nd third of the summer. I only count 5 (Jump 2, Dragon 2, Trannies 4, Tammy, Apes 2) that seem to be sure $100m grossers in the next 6 weeks… maybe Sex Tape too. But is there a Despicable 2/Monsters 2/Superboy triple play (over $900m dom) in there? I don’t think so. We’re short one.

In some ways, the box office is counting on Transformers 4 to be this year’s killer app… $400m domestic and a billion worldwide. And it may do just that.


Did the summer start on May 2 with Spider-Man?

Not so much.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier legitimately planted the flag on the first Friday of April.

But was it really the start of the summer movie season? No. Because even though Rio 2 also did well in April, there was not a rush to release expensive movies in April. The first great April push was The Scorpion King, which disappointed in 2002. The next landmark April release was Fast Five, which opened the weekend before May and did $209m domestic in 2011. We also saw 2 other $100m domestic grossers in April 2011 … which led to… traditional April silence (no $100m domestic grossers) in 2012 and 2013. And now, Captain America.

The answer seems to be that there is wide open space in April and if you treat it like an event opportunity and you have a movie whose marketing connects, there is big money there. (Cap will pass Lego this week, it seems, to become the #1 domestic grosser of 2014… until Transformers eats it alive.)

Fast & Furious 7 has plopped down on April 10, 2015. April 3 is still open for either Cap 3 or SuperBat.

Would the box office results change much for Cap 2, Spidey 2, and X-x is they shifted slots this year? No one can really know. Cap will probably win the domestic war against the other 2, but lose to both internationally. Would the Fox and the Sony films have done better domestically with more space?

That is the only question of the confrontation currently scheduled on Opening Day 2015. Yes, having both films on that date will hurt both films. Personally, I think that Cap would be much worse hurt than BatSupes. But as some have noted, Marvel can afford to take the hit more than the still nascent WB/DC superhero push.

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16 Responses to “20 Weeks Of Summer: 6 Weeks In”

  1. Geoff says:

    I honestly don’t know what to expect from Tranny 4….I wouldn’t be shocked if it opened to $70 million or $170 million, but there seems to be some breathing room for it to go big.

  2. Geoff says:

    As for the big superhero face-off, I have a feeling that Marvel could be in a much weaker position by then…..could be wrong, but I don’t see ‘Guardians being a smash judging by all of the “huh” reactions I see in theaters to the trailers and Ant-man just has a stink of failure coming off it now.

    My prediction is that Marvel will blink and move the Caps sequel to April 2016 – I don’t care how much smack-talk Kevin Feige is throwing out there….he’s not going to be able to convince his bosses at Disney to proactively take an opening weekend hit on a $200 million-plus tent-pole just to poke at his DC rivals.

    And let’s face it – Captain America was beautifully positioned this year, it completely cleaned up overseas in April. Why mess with something that already worked?

  3. jesse says:

    Release date shifts have really depleted this summmer’s prospects. F&F7 was originally slated for this July — even with two recent F&F movies, it seems like that would’ve been huge (though obviously they couldn’t make the date for outside reasons). Jupiter Ascending was more of a question mark, but without it July looks like June has in more recent years (sort of a “time out” between the bigger players where you put out some comedies and family movies). I know Trans4mers is the de facto July 5th movie even though it opens the weekend before, but Apes seems like the only BIG big movie actually released in July.

    I’ve been assuming Sex Tape will do pretty well, but pretty well for Segel and Diaz is the 80-100 range, not 150+. Lucy seems like it could do well, but again, can anyone see that doing well over 125? (The “Angelina Jolie cartoony action movie” number, featuring Scarlett as Jolie.)

    August looks light, too; I think Guardians will do well if only because it’ll be the first all-ages spectacle movie in almost a month when it comes out. As much as people think it might turn girls off, I dunno, it’s not like Ninja Turtles or Expendables 3 or even Sin City 2 are likely to be chick magnets.

    Almost odd, then, that Dragon and Jump Street sequels are squaring off this weekend. I know it’s not a huge audience overlap, but Jump Street could have easily hit 6/20 (when the other openers are both pretty niche-targeted)… or Fourth of July… or 7/18… or 8/8. Probably it makes its $150 million either way, but just seems like a bizarre release schedule this year — in part due to vacancies and in part due to the long-held notion that if you release a bunch of sequels, SOMETHING will just get huge. And I’m sure Trans4mers and Apes will both perform to expectations, but I doubt either of them will OUTperform expectations to the tune of $400 million. Maybe that’s Dragon 2 territory… though for my money, if it happens, it will be akin to Shrek 2’s insane $450 million: a lot of money made off the goodwill of a much better movie (though I’m not a huge fan of the first Shrek, the second one definitely felt like a redux in the same way that Dragon 2 feels like a redux of the first one).

    I’ve enjoyed a lot of movies so far this summer but I feel like for a lot of people it’s going to be the summer of “meh.”

  4. Mike says:

    Maybe it’s because I didn’t really like the recent one, but is the Apes movie really looking to be that huge? It seems like it could be a modest summer hit, but expecting it to be huge seems odd to me.

  5. movieman says:

    Imagine if John Ford had opted to direct “Bye Bye Birdie” instead of “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”
    Clint helming “Jersey Boys” makes about as much sense.
    I don’t “dislike” “JB” per se. It just wasn’t the movie I wanted it to be. Or the one I pictured in my head while watching the stage version (twice!)
    On film, it just seems superfluous. Especially if you’ve seen–and loved–“JB” on stage.
    The only time it truly comes alive is during the closing credits production number.
    Nobody loves Clint as much as I do (and this is very clearly an “Eastwood Movie”). It’s that his signature elegiac style (deliberate pacing; muted color palette; preference for medium shots over close-ups; etc.) is all wrong here.
    Since Marty Scorsese clearly wasn’t interested in tackling “JB” on film, why didn’t they ask David Chase?
    Chase proved as smart and intuitive about ’60s rock-and-roll in “Not Fade Away” as he did about New Jersey Italian-Americans on “The Sopranos.” Both skill sets would have served him well here.

  6. jesse says:

    Mike, maybe not huge, but the first Apes did $175 million or so, even with the last big Apes exposure being the mostly-disliked Burton version. Rise is pretty well-regarded, has been in rotation on cable/etc., and wasn’t crazy huge… so I’d expect this one at least matches it, and probably gets in the $200 million range. Then again, I thought 3D plus all-star line-up would be enough to get the X-Men movie to around 250 domestic and that’s not happening. So maybe there’s a ceiling for a lot of this stuff.

  7. YancySkancy says:

    movieman: I haven’t seen JERSEY BOYS (on film or on stage), but I just happened to watch NOT FADE AWAY a couple of days ago, and I’m not so sure Chase would’ve necessarily pulled it off. His film is, as you say, smart and intuitive about ’60s rock-n-roll, and it’s clearly a labor of love and a personal story, but it’s all over the place narratively and tonally. He makes some pretty odd choices, and it somehow doesn’t feel like a full movie to me. More like the pilot for a series, or even a compilation of key scenes from a completed series. I hope he makes more movies though, and I’ll admit his version of JERSEY BOYS would undoubtedly be worth a look, even if it didn’t quite work.

  8. Eric says:

    I thought both Captain America 3 and Batman v Superman were scheduled for 2016?

  9. Chad NdJ says:

    Million Dollar Arm already opened in India. Didn’t do well.

  10. Jermsguy says:

    Not since 2001 have we seen a summer where no film hits $300 million domestic. At this point Transformers 4 looks like the only one left who could do it.

  11. Hcat says:

    Thinking apes will overtake xmen domestically, and with fault and dragons 2 fox will be the clear winner for the summer.

    And I really think Lucy is going to be a big 175 to 200 domestic surprise. They moved it before guardians to give it some traction and I can’t help but think that factored in to Jupiter moving (though Warner’s might just be exhausted from their summer of tough sells, I bet they can’t wait to het back to easy pitches like potter and batman)

  12. movieman says:

    Yancy- Marshall Brickman (who wrote the book for the B’way musical) and Rick Elise (who coauthored the screenplay w/ Brickman) do such a terrific job of storytelling that all “Jersey Boys” really needed was a director more simpatico w/ the milieu (both rock-and-roll and New Jersey Italian-Americans) than Eastwood to make it soar.
    Chase proved he was both in “The Sopranos” and “Not Fade Away” (a movie I clearly like a lot more than you do, lol).
    As I said earlier, nobody loves Clint Eastwood more than I do. I truly believe he’s one of the greatest living American filmmakers. But his “Jersey Boys” felt oddly stillborn and inert. (Hell, he barely moves the camera.)
    Another director who might have finessed Brickman and Elice’s screenplay?
    Floyd Mutrux who hasn’t made a film in over two decades.
    “JB” could have used the same rush of adrenaline Mutrux brought to “American Hot Wax,” possibly the greatest rock-and-roll movie ever made.

  13. Lynch VanSant says:

    Yeah, CapAm3 and Sup v Bat are 2016. Avengers: Age of Ultron is next summer’s one to beat on May 1, so Fast & Furious 7 has 3 weekends before it’s decimated. What’s interesting now is the abundance of female targeted movies next May that are counter-programming: Don’t Mess with Texas with Reese Witherspoon, Mean Moms with Jennifer Aniston, Pitch Perfect 2 with Anna Kendrick and Spy with Melissa McCarthy. I’m sure some will move off that schedule since they will cannibalize each other but it’s good to see less of the testosterone action sequels of past years.

  14. YancySkancy says:

    movieman: We can certainly agree on AMERICAN HOT WAX. RIP the great Tim McIntyre, gone way too soon.

  15. movieman says:

    Yancy- Glad to know that somebody else shares my “American Hot Wax” love. It’s infuriating that it’s never been released on Blu-Ray or DVD.
    It must have something to do w/ licensing rights to the music.
    But still. “Hot Wax” is both a classic and a masterpiece. I think I must have seen it a dozen times during its (not terribly long) 1978 theatrical release.
    All I have today are my memories–and a fading-fast VHS copy I taped on HBO back in the early ’80s.

  16. cadavra says:

    Not that I’m defending the film–though it wasn’t as bad as I expected–but are you absolutely sure MILLION WAYS will be a money-loser? It looks to top out at about $45 million, which just happens to be the reported budget. So $23 million film rental. Domestic theatrical is normally 20% of a film’s eventual take, so $23 million times five is $115 million. Even if you deduct the tens of millions spent on marketing, MacFarlane’s cut of FDG, and drop some more because comedies don’t play well overseas (though the western/action elements may make up for some of that), that still seems like at least a break-even to me.

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So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

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So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

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