Studios played it safe this weekend with two sequels opposite the start of the World Cup, whose early summer timing is more damaging to overall box office internationally. Both films -- "22 Jump Street" (Sony) and "How to Train Your Dragon 2" (DreamWorks Animation & 20th Century Fox) -- were elevated to summer playtime after the first films in these franchises scored strong March performances. Both also received better-than-average critical response to enhance already strong audience interest, with the result that the two films look headed to over $50 million for the weekend, a rare occurrence for more than one new film.
"Jump Street" grossed $25 million between strong Thursday evening shows and Friday to place #1 for the day and likely for the full weekend with "Dragon," which scored $18.5 million possibly outgrossing it for the rest of the weekend. The combined strength of the two films placed the day (and likely the weekend) slightly behind last year, when "Man of Steel" by itself grossed $116 million (with "This Is the End" adding another $20 million for its start).
With the combined production budgets of both films coming in close to "Steel"'s cost alone, this is a good result for their studios. Compared to a weekend with a film opening bigger than any of this season's blockbusters, this steadily holding total gross is a decent result overall. (The $145-million"Dragon" is more expensive, and will need major foreign box office to propel it into profit).
The ongoing weakness for the summer so far -- the lack of any film that shows above-average holds over multiple weeks -- held down the rest of the top 10. Number three "The Fault in Our Stars" (20th Century Fox) at $6,350,000 fell more than 60% from its initial single day Friday even without premium-price night-before figures. Number four "Maleficent" (Buena Vista) continues to hold better (a less than 50% drop) at $5,844,000 for the day. The second weekend for Tom Cruise's "Edge of Tomorrow" also looks like it will be down a disappointing close to 50% with Friday coming in at $4,560,000 for #5, with hoped-for, strong word-of-mouth not saving the domestic side of the film's take (foreign is stronger).
Number six "X-Men: Days of Future Past" (20th Century Fox) took in $2,625,000 and will pass $200 million today. None of the rest of the Top 10 -- in order: "A Million Ways to Die in the West"(Universal), "Godzilla"(Sony), "Neighbors" (Universal) and"Chef" (Open Road) managed to gross even $1 million for the day.
A24's "The Rover" looks to be the best new limited film, but with around $27,000 in five theaters looks to have a PSA of under $20,000 for the weekend -- decent but not a standout.