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Weekend Box-Office Analysis (May 10-12, 2013)

Traditionally, the second weekend of May fares worse than the first due to the summer-opening-movie usually being the biggest opener of May. This year was no different. However, coming off the 10th-biggest weekend of all-time, it is surprising that the Top 12 was down just 27.9% to $152.1 million. That was thanks to the extraordinary opening of The Great Gatsby, which has surpassed even the wildest predictions. Nevertheless, even with two movies making more than $50 million over the weekend the number were still down 6.3% from the same weekend last year, which saw The Avengers delivering a record-breaking second-weekend gross.


Coming off the second-biggest opening weekend of all-time, Iron Man 3 held firm at the #1 spot of the box-office, dipping 58.4% to $72.5 million. With that, it can now also claim to have the 4th-biggest second weekend on record, only behind The Avengers ($103.1 million), Avatar ($75.6 million) and The Dark Knight ($75.2 million) and just ahead of Shrek 2’s $72.2 million. With $284.9 million in the bag by the end of the weekend, it also has the 4th-highest 10-day-total ever, behind The Avengers, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. Even though these are mind-bogglingly huge numbers, they just go on to show, how immense The Avengers was at the box-office. After the same period of time, it made around $88 million more, standing at $373 million! One of the reasons for that is that The Avengers had little competition in its second weekend and thus dropped just 50.3%, whereas Iron Man 3 was hit harder by The Great Gatsby’s gigantic opening than anyone could have expected. At least the hold was a little better than Iron Man 2’s 59.4% drop, but it was also vastly inferior to the first film’s sub-50% decline. Still, given the competition and the likely frontloading, its hold indicates positive word-of-mouth at work. However, Star Trek into Darkness’ arrival won’t allow for a good hold next weekend either, as it will face a likely $100+ million opener that will also take away many of its IMAX-screens. Any drop below 55% should be considered good in that scenario.

On Friday, at latest, Iron Man 3 will reach $300 million, tying Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and Avatar for the fifth-fastest film, to get above the milestone. If it manages to get there by Thursday, it’ll be the 4th-fastest to do so, together with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. All these stats inevitably point to a final gross above $400 million, even with stiff competition courtesy of Star Trek into Darkness and Fast & Furious 6. However, this weekend’s harsh drop and next weekend’s likely similarly harsh decline will prevent it from getting to $450 million afterall. This year’s May is just way too stacked with major releases for any of them to realize their full potential. Therefore, Iron Man 3 will go on to finish with $415-430 million, making the domestic all-time Top 10 with some luck.


Iron Man 3 might have retained the top spot in its second outing, but the true winner of the weekend was the second-placed adaptation of The Great Gatsby by Baz Luhrman, which opened to a humongous $50.1 million from 3,535 venues for an incredible per-theatre-average of $14,168. It’d be an impressive number for many movies, but for a 140-minutes-long romantic period drama set in the 1920s, it’s an insane number and speaks volumes of the successful marketing efforts. Delayed from December 2012 to this May, The Great Gatsby has long seemed like a troubled project for Warner Bros. that could have easily turned into a big-budget bust. Afterall, a $105 million investment is always risky for a film like this and Baz Luhrman hasn’t exactly made a name for himself as a bankable director. His last effort, Australia, was produced for $130 million and flopped domestically with just under $50 million. Even his biggest film, Moulin Rouge!, didn’t exactly set the box-office on fire with its $57.4 million gross back in 2001. The Great Gatsby’s opening weekend alone makes it Luhrman’s 2nd-highest-grossing film ever. Interestingly, the film’s 3D-share was abysmal even by nowadays standards. Only 33% of its weekend total came from 3D screenings. However, once you start looking closer into the circumstances of The Great Gatsby, it becomes more and more apparent, why the film broke out in such a huge fashion.

First of all, it is the popularity of the novel by Scott F. Fitzgerald. Being one of the greatest American novels ever written, it has been part of the high school curriculum for many years. On top of that, Warner Bros. mounted a tremendous marketing campaign, making the film look appealing not only to older demographics, who might be more fond of the novel, but also to younger audiences through its eclectic soundtrack, produced by Jay Z and heavily featured in the TV spots. They made the period flick look hip and more accessible. Furthermore, the movie’s tragic love story appealed heavily to female audiences, which have been neglected for a long time now. In fact, The Big Wedding is the only other strongly female-oriented movie in the marketplace right now that is playing wide. In fact, 59% of the film’s opening weekend audiences were made up of women. To round it off, the film’s main star, Leonardo DiCaprio, has by now become one of the biggest draws in Hollywood. While J. Edgar disappointed with just $37.3 million, his other three films in the past three years all opened above $30 million and finished above $125 million. At last, the buzz of being the movie to open the Cannes film festival this year certainly didn’t hurt either.

As big as the movie’s opening was, it did not receive an overly warm welcome by its audiences. On average, it was awarded a “B”-CinemaScore. It has also proven itself to be rather frontloaded over the weekend, dropping 9% on Saturday. Even without much direct competition, it is bound to suffer a harsh drop at least in its second weekend. It might recover later, but I don’t expect it to become particularly leggy. In the worst-case scenario I see The Great Gatsby finishing with $120 million, but a total in the $125-140 million range is much more likely. It might very well become one of the five biggest romantic dramas of all-time.


As the biggest opener skewed primarily female, Pain and Gain recovered somewhat in its third round, dipping just 33.4% to $5 million and #3 at the box-office. After 17 days, the Michael Bay-directed film can claim a running total of $41.6 million. It looks like it still has a shot at $50 million afterall. That wouldn’t’ make it great, but at least less of a disappointment that it looked to be before.


As much as The Great Gatsby positively surprised this weekend, Tyler Perry Presents Peeples shockingly disappointed at the 4th spot with $4.6 million from 2,041 venues for a PTA of $2,259. It was by far the worst opening weekend for any movie associated with Tyler Perry. His previous low was Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls which opened to $11.2 million on its way to a $31.4 million finish. Peeples, however, will struggle to make in total what that film made in its first three days. It is a really surprising disappointment and one that is not easy to explain given the lack of other movies in the marketplace appealing to urban audiences. It might be because Peeples is the first movie produced by Perry that he did not write or direct. Even then, the results are simply awful. With a “B”-CinemaScore to boot (worse than for most Tyler Perry-flicks), it doesn’t have much of a future either. It won’t make more than $10 million in total. With a price tag of $15 million, it’s not a major bomb for Lionsgate, but it shows that even Tyler Perry’s name is not always safe.


The baseball drama 42 dropped two slots down to #5, decreasing mere 24.2% to $4.6 million over the three-day portion. It has brought its running total to $84.7 million after five weeks on release, entering the all-time Top 10 for sports dramas. 42 is also tracking $21 million ahead of Moneyball in the same time frame and keeps slowly but surely widening that gap. The film’s chances at $100 million are still looking shaky, even though, at the same time it is a near-lock to at least get to $95 million. I believe that it will get close enough to the $100 million mark for Warner Bros. to do their best and push it beyond.


Oblivion fell two spots to #6 in its 4th weekend, grossing $4.1 million (down 27,1%) and bringing its running total to $81.9 million. While it managed to finally stabilize, Star Trek into Darkness will surely hit it hard this upcoming weekend by taking away its remaining IMAX screens and targeting its audiences even more directly than Iron Man 3. I still don’t expect it to hit $90 million. It should wind up with roughly $88 million instead.


Among non-expanding holdovers, The Croods once again delivered by far the best hold, dropping just a tiny 14.1% to $3.6 million. That was enough for #7 of the chart. After eight weeks The Croods’ total cume stands at $173.2 million. It should have another good, competition-free weekend before the arrival of Epic, the first animated feature since The Croods’ release back in March! I expect The Croods to finish with $182 million in the bank, am splendid number that only few have expected.


Roadside Attractions has given Mud yet another expansion in its third weekend, this time adding 276 theatres for a total theatre count of 852. It is now the widest release ever for the studio. Thanks to the expansion, the flick rose 17.3% to $2.5 million and brought its total to $8.6 million, already making it Roadside’s 2nd-biggest film ever. It will soon pass The Conspirator’s $11.5 million and will become their biggest success by a landslide. Currently, Mud is looking at a total gross above $20 million when all is said and done.


The Big Wedding survived the competition from The Great Gatsby surprisingly well, declining just 35.8% to $2.5 million. It has accumulated $18.3 million in 17 days and should wrap up its run with $23 million in the bank.


Oz The Great and Powerful dropped 49% to $1.1 million and #10 at the box-office, passing the $230 million mark on its 10th weekend. So far the Sam Raimi-directed fantasy adventure has grossed $230.3 million and should wind up with $233 million by the end of its run.


Olympus Has Fallen improved one spot from #12 to #11, dipping just 37.9% to $0.7 million and bringing its gross to $96.6 million. I still firmly believe that it will crawl to $100 million, even though it might take another two months. The Place Beyond the Pines rounded off the Top 12 with $0.7 million (down 44.9%). It should bow out with $22 million.

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