By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood May 4, 2014 at 1:13PM
This year the official summer season launches, as did last, with a Marvel comic sequel.
Sony's costly "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" opened $2 million ahead of the expected gross of $90 million. But that is no better than other recent Marvel entries from other studios, and considerably below last year's "Iron Man 3," which launched a terrific three months of stellar grosses with $174 million.
The result is a 3-day Top 10 take of around $142 million, down almost $70 million from last year, and by far the weakest weekend-to-weekend comparison in many months. "Spider-Man"'s performance hints that the upcoming season might not be up to last year's standard.
"Iron Man 3" also kicked off a terrific month of May last year, quickly followed by "The Great Gatsby," "Star Trek Into Darkness," "Epic," "Hangover Part III," and "Fast and Furious 6." This year isn't bereft of promising titles for May - "Neighbors," "Godzilla," "Million Dollar Arm" and "Maleficent" are among entries with potential coming up. But the 9% year to date jump seen through the first four months could quickly recede.
1. "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" (Sony) - Cinemascore: B+; Criticwire: C; Cinemascore: 53
$92,000,000 in 4,324 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $21,277; Cumulative: $92,000,000
Any opening weekend gross of $92 million is terrific, and a worldwide total (with many early international openings) at $370 million is nothing to sneeze at. Sony is on its way to modest returns for their sequel to the reboot of the superhero franchise, due to a risky combined production/marketing budget clocked at over $400 million.
Not all the comparisons are great -- "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," coming off a weaker series reboot and opening in less-prime April, had a slightly better opening weekend. And with the opening May weekend established as a go-to slot for top superhero films (the last two years, "The Avengers" grossed $207 million and "Iron Man 3" $174 million), this doesn't compete on their level. But the decent Saturday number is down only slightly from the first day number (which includes Thursday evening shows), in line with similar films. This suggests strong family weekend matinee attendance, crucial for both initial and ongoing success.
Comparisons to the previous "Spider-Man" are tricky since it opened on a Tuesday of a July 4th weekend. For the record, that film grossed $62 million its first weekend and $137 million its first six days on its way to $262 million domestic and $752 million worldwide haul.
International -- where the last "Spider-Man" soared far above its domestic take -- is already at $277 million. China opened Sunday with a reported $10.4 million tally, ahead of "Captain America 2"'s first day gross. India's opening weekend of $6.5 million is the best ever for a Hollywood-produced film, and other new territories show continued success.
This production suffered the loss of producer Laura Ziskin, who passed away in 2011, but saw the return of director Marc Webb ("(500) Days of Summer") and leads Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. The writing team was all new, culled from other successful sci-fi/fantasy movies and TV efforts: their efforts took the brunt of the criticism from mixed reviews.
What comes next: The second weekend will be critical in determining real audience reaction. Warner Bros.' "Godzilla" should prove significant competition when it opens May 16.
2. "The Other Woman" (20th Century Fox) Week 2 - Last weekend #1
$14,200,000 (-43%) in 3,238 theaters (+33); PSA: $4,385; Cumulative: $47,345,000
A decent hold for Nick Cassavetes' female-centered comedy led by Cameron Diaz. Weekday grosses suggested some strength for this beyond the hints from last weekend's #1 opening, and this weekend's 26% jump Saturday suggests this is getting more couples attending, critical to sustaining a run for a few more weeks. This now has a chance to more than triple its opening, the usual standard for a good performance.
What comes next: This does face the challenge of well-reviewed raunch comedy "Neighbors" opening next Friday.