Despite lackluster reviews which concentrated on the film’s thin story line and overabundance of special effects, Disney’s Maleficent with Angelina Jolie was, as expected, No. 1 this weekend with $70 million which was $10 million more than what had been predicted. It beat out last week’s No.1 film X-Men: Days of Future Past which dropped off 64% with a weekend gross of $32.6 million.
Which brings up something a few people, including myself, have been noticing this summer film season so far. Yes, all these films are making huge amounts of money, and when you add in those all important overseas numbers which really determine if a film is successful or not, the studios are doing very well so far this season.
But what is noticeable, which is of concern to many people in the business, are the huge second and third week b.o. drop-offs, which are always expected, but this year so far are larger than usual, dropping on average 60% like X Men’s dropoff of 64% or Godzilla’s 62%.
What does this mean? Perhaps despite all the hype for this year’s films people are disappointed with them. Or perhaps the audience for these films is actually getting smaller as the audience ages, which some box office analysts have been saying for some time.
In other words most of the people who really want to see Godzilla or the latest Spider Man movie come out the first week and then add to that the unenthusiastic word of mouth, the audience drops off sharply during the following weeks.
But as I’ve just mentioned the studios are still making so much money from them that they’re not concerned too much about that for now. But if the trend continues there are going to be a lot of very nervous studio execs trying to figure out what to do next.
And remember what Steven Spielberg predicted literally a year ago - that the studios are headed for major trouble soon. That some ideas by filmmakers "are too fringe-y for the movies” and "that's the big danger, and there's eventually going to be an implosion — or a big meltdown. There's going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen mega-budget movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that's going to change the paradigm."
The last time I recall that happened was in 1969-70 after a slew of big budgeted films crashed at the box office and Hollywood was forced to retrench and rethink what kind of films they wanted to make. The result was, during the 1970's to early 80's, perhaps the greatest, and most risk taking era of American filmmaking ever. Maybe Hollywood does need another serious implosion.
As for Seth MacFarlane’s very disappointing second feature A Million Ways To Die in The West, after his hysterical 2012 film Ted, it came in third with $17 million, though it was expected to do $25 million this weekend. However the film’s relatively reasonable $40 million budget also guarantees that, with its overseas b.o., it will make a nice profit, but nowhere remotely near the $550 million worldwide that Ted grossed.
And of course, as for Belle, the film jumped up another spot up to 11th place now playing on 525 screens for a weekend total of just under $1.3 million, and a total so far of $6.2. million. The film had the second lowest dropoff of any film in the top 12 with just 22%.