Uh oh, the box office is down about 45% from last year’s July 4th weekend. The sky is falling! OK, maybe not so much, but a malaise has certainly kicked in with audiences and they aren’t connecting with these films. This time last year, the July 4th weekend sold $220 million worth of tickets (a 12% increase from 2012). It did so on the backs of “Despicable Me 2” and even the flop of the “Lone Ranger” (which couldn’t crack $30 million in its opening weekend). Fast forward to 2014, and it’s not looking hot in comparison at all. Why is? that Well, despite those that actually love Michael Bay/love to hate-watch Michael Bay, “Transformers: Age of Extinction” fell a rather substantial 64% in its second week.
It sounds like some people finally read those negative reviews, and the explosion-happy audience already went last weekend. Of course, ‘Age Of Extinction’ has earned $401 million overseas. That means, in two weeks of release, the 4quel has grossed $575 million worldwide. With international markets still to open, at this pace, close to $1 billion isn’t outrageous. Bay’s picture has grossed an insane $213 million in China alone (there’s no way U.S. numbers can outpace that).
All of this sluggishness is really because North Americans didn’t feel like they had good options in the theaters this weekend. Adding to the massive ‘T4’ drop was vehement apathy towards Melissa McCarthy’s “Tammy,” the first real blow to her comedy hot streak. McCarthy’s become such solid gold, studios are clamoring to give her deals and green light projects – they all want their own “Bridesmaids” or “The Heat.” But both of those projects had co-stars like Sandra Bullock, or ensembles starring Kristen Wigg. Whereas “Tammy” – a vanity project co-written and directed by her husband Ben Falcone, a comedian who has never helmed a feature before – was essentially a starring vehicle with the main co-star being Susan Sarandon, a terrific actress, but not much of a comedic box-office draw.
For comparison, even "Identity Thief" in February of 2013 opened up to $34.5 million, about 38% higher than “Tammy.” McCarthy is supposedly bigger than ever with a July 4th opening weekend, but the film couldn’t track (deeper context: even the 5-day “Tammy” total was below the three-weekend total of “Identity Thief” and “The Heat”). Maybe Rex Reed is getting his way. And at the end of the day, with a C-grade Cinemascore, it appears audiences just didn’t find this one very funny (much like critics) and word of mouth spread fast.
Not moving the needle at all were other July 4th alternative programmers, “Deliver Us From Evil” and “Earth to Echo.” The former cracked the top 3 but couldn’t hit the $10 million mark in its debut, and the latter couldn’t even crack the top 5 (an underwhelming performance for a film that’s supposed to be a four-quadrant family film). Relativity Media (who released ‘Echo’) hasn't had a major hit since "Immortals" in 2011 and even that one failed to crack $100 million at home. Then again, maybe the studio is content with its modest successes: low-budgeted movies that make relative bank ("Safe Haven," "Act Of Valor" and "Limitless"). But they’ve got a lot of duds in their wheelhouse too so one has to wonder how long it can last.
Still holding and performing rather well were Fox & DreamWorks’ “How to Train Your Dragon 2” and Sony’s “22 Jump Street.” The bromantic spoof ‘Jump Street’ has even hit the $158 million mark at home, making it the highest grossing comedy of 2014 (even outgrossing the successful run of “Neighbors”). In fact, the comedy sequel has outgrossed “21 Jump Street” both domestically and internationally. Would they dare do a third even though they essentially blew up the sequel at the end with its outrageous and hilarious sequel-mocking end credits? 'Dragon 2' is doing slightly better than its doomsaying early predictions. It’s grossed $240 million worldwide in three weeks. But yes, it's costly, and hitting the almost $500 million of the original is going to be very tough.
Rounding out the top 10, you have "Maleficent" (now having crossed the $625 million mark worldwide, it took the #1 slot in Japan unseating “Frozen” from its unprecedented 16 week #1 run in that country), “Jersey Boys” (only dropping 27% percent from last weekend), “Think Like A Man Too” (definitely a underwhelming sequel performer) and “Edge of Tomorrow.” Tom Cruise’s sci-fi vehicle has earned $90 million in five weeks, and before all is said and done it should be able to crawl to $100 million. The movie has grossed $325 million; that’s $34 million higher than “Oblivion” which couldn’t get past the $300 million mark globally in 2013.
In the limited-release field, the Roger Ebert film “Life Itself” grossed $140k in 25 venues for a good $5,600 per screen average, especially for a doc. Expanding into almost 175 theaters, “Begin Again” earned a good $7,520 per screen average earning about $1.3 million for the long weekend. Lionsgate's jingoistic doc "America" opened up on $1,105 screens and took in a solid $2.7 million. On 250 screens, the Weinstein Company's "Snowpiercer" delivered about $1 million in receipts, a 4k per screen average.
Falling out of the top 10, Jon Favreau’s “Chef” actually went up 1% from last weekend and now has grossed $22 million. Also out of the top 10 are "The Fault in our Stars" and "X-Men: Days of Future Past" that latter of which doesn’t look like it has enough in the tank to outgross the $234 million domestic record of “X-Men: The Last Stand.”
All numbers are 3 day weekend estimates
1. “Transformers 4” — $36.4 million ($174.7m)
2. “Tammy” — $21.7 million ($32.9 million)
3. “Deliver Us From Evil” — $9.5 million ($15m)
4. “22 Jump Street” — $9.4 million ($158.8m)
5. “How to Train Your Dragon 2” — $8.7 million ($140m)
6. “Earth To Echo” — $8.2 million ($13.4m)
7. "Maleficent" — $6.1 million ($213m)
8. “Jersey Boys” — $5.1 million ($36.7m)
9. “Think Like A Man Too” — $4.9 million ($57 million)
10. “Edge of Tomorrow” — $3.64million ($90.8m)