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Weekend Box-Office Analysis (May 3-5, 2013)

The summer has arrived and gave the box-office a refreshing breath o fair after the miserable April slump. Ever since the beginning of the last decade, it is a common occurrence that a huge opener kicks off the summer box-office season on the first weekend of May. In fact, the opening weekend record has been broken three times on that very weekend (by Spider-Man, Spider-Man 3 and The Avengers). While it wasn’t quite enough for a new record, Iron Man 3 got out of the gate splendidly and made up 82.6% of the total cume of the entire Top 12, giving the Top 12 a 156.2% increase from last weekend to $210.9 million. Needless to say, it was the biggest weekend of the year, the biggest since last year’s July 20-22 frame (when The Dark Knight Rises opened) and the 10th-biggest on record! While it all does sound great (and it really is), it needs to be noted that the cumulative gross of the Top 12 was still down 15.5% from the same weekend last year when The Avengers demolished the opening weekend record with $207.3 million. It was expected that Iron Man 3, as huge as it could be, would not measure up to the tremendous opening of the superheroes mash-up, but it is still stunning to see a weekend as big as this still so much lower than last year’s. The total 2013 box-office is now 11.1% behind last year. While next weekend might still come in lower than last year (unless The Great Gatsby breaks out big time), at latest with Star Trek into Darkness’ opening on May 17th, things are bound to take a turn for the better and 2013 will start catching up on 2012 quickly. Fast & Furious 6 and The Hangover Part III are also likely to bring in more than $350 million, taken together, so that by mid-June 2013 might finally equal last year’s box-office.


Iron Man 3 was the weekend’s #1 movie with the second-biggest gap ever between the top spot and the #2-flick (Pain and Gain) - $166.6 million. Iron Man 3’s opening day alone, amounting to $68.9 million, would have been the years 2nd-biggest opening weekend (behind Oz The Great and Powerful). Around $15.6 million of that number came from early and midnight screenings. It was the 7th-biggest opening day gross ever. Only Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and three Twilight-flicks came in ahead of it.  However Iron Man 3 wasn’t nearly as frontloaded as most of those films and dipped mere 9.6% on Saturday, holding even better than The Avengers on its second day. It was the 2nd-biggest Saturday gross ever. In turn, it held slightly worse than expected on Sunday, dropping 30.9% to $43 million, the 3rd-biggest Sunday ever, behind The Avengers and The Dark Knight. On the whole, it opened with unbelievable $174.1 million from 4,253 theatres, averaging $40,946 per theatres for the third-highest PTA for a wide release of all-time. The opening weekend itself, beat Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and ended up being the second-biggest opening on record, only behind The Avengers’ monumental $207.3 million bow. For comparison, the first Iron Man broke out with $98.6 million back in 2008 (10th biggest opening weekend at the time), its first follow-up bowed to $128.1 million, which was the 5th-biggest opening back in 2010. Iron Man 3 crushed these openings. Even adjusted for inflation and the 3D and IMAX bonus (the latter played a much smaller role with Iron Man 2), Iron Man 2 still sold significantly less tickets opening weekend than the third film. It should be even moreso surprising, given Iron Man 2’s less-than-stellar reception, leading to an opening-to-total multiplier below 2.5.

And yet, it is not particularly surprising, if still impressive. Iron Man 3 clearly played more as a sequel to The Avengers (which was extremely well-received) than the third part of the Iron Man franchise. It helps that Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man is the biggest character among the Avengers and Robert Downey Jr.’s acclaimed performance made him a pop culture phenomenon. I expect Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier to benefit from The Avengers-effect as well, albeit on a much smaller scale. Obviously the upgrade to 3D and a much wider IMAX-exposure than its predecessor helped matters too. Iron Man 3’s 3D share was 45%, lower than The Avengers’ 52% and confirming the downwards trend of 3D for major movies. However, it also garnered a very impressive $16.5 million from IMAX theatres, up from $15.3 million delivered by The Avengers last year. Only The Dark Knight Rises scored an even bigger IMAX opening at $19 million. As for most Marvel movies, there was a clear gender split with 61% of the opening weekend audiences being men. Also, Iron Man 3 skewed a little older – 55% were over 25. The film’s future prospects are bright, as it scored a terrific “A”-CinemaScore. While not as amazing as The Avengers’ “A+”, it also promises unusual longevity for a movie that opened this well. It should be noted, though, that Iron Man 2 also had an “A”-CinemaScore. However, it certainly feels that Iron Man 3 will end up with better word-of-mouth as it also scored much more enthusiastic reviews so far. What will stand in its way is severe competition throughout May. In its third weekend, Star Trek into Darkness will not only take many of its IMAX screens away, it will also deliver it a strong blow by likely opening above $100 million. Just a week later, Fast & Furious 6 and The Hangover Part III will most likely make around $150 million put together over their opening weekends. The Avengers didn’t face this type of competition, with even the biggest May 2012 release not topping $200 million in total. The Avengers-type of legs would give it a domestic total of more than $520 million, Iron Man 2’s low multiplier would see it winding up with around $425 million. The actual numbers will lie somewhere in-between. Even in the worst-case-scenario, Iron Man 3 should approach $450 million with a finish somewhere in the $450-475 million range being the most likely outcome. With a little luck, it could end up at the #5 spot of the highest-grossing movies of all-time. It’d become the third comic book adaptation in that Top 5, along with The Avengers and The Dark Knight.


Hurt by Iron Man 3’s arrival and strong appeal to male audiences as well as its own mediocre WoM, Michael Bay’s Pain and Gain dropped like a rock, losing 62.9% of its opening weekend audiences. It occupied the 2nd spot of the chart with $7.5 million, bringing its 10-day-total to $33.8 million. At least the R-rated movie has already almost outdone the $35.8 million total of Bay’s big flop The Island. On the other hand, even though Paramount will see a healthy return on its $26 million investment, this has to go down as a minor disappointment for Bay and the actors involved. Afterall, not just Bay’s name, but also Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Mark Wahlberg give the film a much higher profile than for your usual end-of-April R-rated release.  After this harsh drop, there will be no recovery as it will swiftly lose most of its screens and theatres by the end of the month. At best, Pain and Gain is looking at a total somewhere around $45-50 million, though it is more likely to finish on the low end of that range. By comparison, The Rock’s Snitch is on track to finish with $43 million, despite being a much more low-key movie with less marketing, far less additional starpower and a release in almost 800 less theatres. I assume Bay won’t attempt a small movie anytime soon after this.


The baseball-themed biopic 42 stood its ground at #3 this weekend, taking in another $6.1 million, down just 43.2% from its previous frame. Although its hold wasn’t great, it was still the 2nd-best in the entire Top 12 among non-expanding films. After four weeks on release, the Harrison-Ford-starring Jackie-Robinson-film boasts a $78.2 million running total. That’s enough to be the 2nd-biggest baseball flick of all-time and puts it $20.5 million ahead of Moneyball after the same period of time. It will, however, not end up as the biggest baseball-themed film ever as that record still belongs to A League of Their Own with $107.5 million – a number that is now out of reach for 42. After its promising start and the “A+”-CinemaScore it looked like a possibility, but for some reason it didn’t hold up as well in the following weeks as its WoM indicated it would. Right now, $100 million is in danger, though at the very least it is now certain to end up as this April’s biggest release as well as one of the ten most successful sports dramas at the domestic box-office. It is guaranteed to make at öeast $95 million, but I still believe in a late push by Warner that will ensure it cracking $100 million, even if barely. At least, unlike most other holdovers, it will be able to benefit from targeting older audiences, not much interested in loud blockbuster fare.


Oblivion on the other hand, was obliterated by Iron Man 3, which took away all of nits IMAX screens and stole the vast majority of its potential audiences. Plummeting a horrendous 68.3% to $5.6 million, it dropped two spots to #4 at the box-office. In 17 days, the sci-fi film starring Tom Cruise brought in $75.8 million. With Star Trek into Darkness looming on the horizon, it won’t go much further and, in the end, will end up barely outgrossing the much more low-profile Jack Reacher. I doubt it’ll make more than $85 million as of now.


The Croods held very well in 5th place, managing a 37.5% drop to $4.2 million and bringing its total gross to $168.7 million. It passed DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda 2 and is now the animation studio’s 11th-biggest film ever and the 6th-biggest that is not a sequel. It should do really well over the next couple of weekends, still facing no direct competition, until Epic hits it hard over the Memorial Day weekend. On the other hand, the holiday effect might be able to offset the competition effect. Either way, The Croods is still on course to a $180 million finish.


The Big Wedding slid two spots down to #6, making $3.9 million (down 48.9%) over the three-day-period. Its total gross stands at $14.2 million, which is a pathetic number for a comedy with such an all-star ensemble. Despite not facing much direct competition, the film will vanish from theatres very soon, ending up with no more than $22 million.


Roadside Attractions expanded last weekend’s surprisingly successful opener Mud from 363 theatres to 576, which in turn led to a miniscule decrease of 2.5%. Making $2.2 million over the weekend, Mud rose from the 11th slot all the way up to #7. Its 10-day total amounts to $5.2 million, already making it the distributor’s 7th-highest-grossing release ever. It has also become their first film to enter the weekend Top 10. Roadside Attractions is not going to stop now either, a further expansion is planned this upcoming weekend. It is by now a lock to top their all-time biggest film, The Conspirator, which made $11.5 million back in 2011. Mud, Jeff Nichols’ follow-up to his acclaimed arthouse success Take Shelter, is looking at a significantly higher total. Right now, I could see it ending up anywhere around $15-20 million. I assume that the presence of Reese Witherspoon and Matthew McConaughey (which had some sort of a career resurrection last year with several acclaimed performances) helped Mud a lot.


Experiencing a typical studio-related boost that usually happens when a movie from the same studio opens to huge numbers (thanks to drive-in double features among others), Oz The Great and Powerful had a major resurgence at the box-office this weekend, as Disney’s Iron Man 3 opened. Rising five spots to #8, Oz delivered $2.1 million over the weekend, increasing 16.7% from the previous weekend, despite losing 450 theatres. Its current total amounts to $228.9 million and it will soon pass $230 million afterall, heading for a $232 million finish. It has been a spectacular performance overall, even though the legs left to be desired.


Things looked bleak for the rest of the Top 12. Scary Movie 5 placed 9th in its fourth round, pulling $1.4 million (down 58%) and bringing its total to $29.6 million. It will end up with around $31 million. Rounding off the Top 10, The Place Beyond the Pines lost 53.1%, bringing its total to $18.7 million. It’s a good running cume for a movie as ambitious and not so easily accessible as this, but after its hugely successful limited opening, one could have hoped for more. It will leave the theatres with $22 million in the bank. Leaving the Top 10 in its 6th outing, G.I. Joe: Retaliation made $1.3 million (down 65.7%). Like Oblivion, it was hit hard by Iron Man 3. So far it has made $118.8 million and will end up with $121 million in the bank. At last, Olympus Has Fallen suffered its worst drop to date, diving 58.3% to $1.2 million. Its running total stands at $95.4 million. I still believe FilmDistrict will push it all the way to $100 million. In another bit of interesting news, Jurassic Park 3D brought its total to $43.8 million, meaning that Jurassic Park’s lifetime gross has passed $400 million, making it the 16th movie to do so at the North-American box-office!

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