At long last, for the first time this year the box office top ten marked a bump up from last year, thanks to three big performers taking in most of the gross. The top 10 this weekend came to about $158 million. Last year, which saw two disappointing openings ("Battleship" and "The Dictator" followed weak "Dark Shadows"), came to $134 million. "Star Trek Into Darkness" leads the way--while nonetheless failing to meet high expectations--and "Iron Man 3" and "The Great Gatsby" continue to draw audiences. This is an important achievement after a weak 2013 so far.
Next week brings three major new films: Warner Bros.' "The Hangover Part III," Fox's animated "Epic" and Universal's "Fast and Furious 6," which opened to large numbers in the U.K. this weekend. Six strong films in the market brings heavy competition, but Memorial Day weekend should see a major boost in totals and continue the strong May so far.
1. Star Trek Into Darkness (Paramount) NEW - Cinemascore: A; Criticwire grade: B; Metacritic score: 73
$70,555,000 in 3,868 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $18,241; Cumulative: $84,091,000
J.J. Abrams' second stab at the long running "Star Trek" series came in with a strong gross just $5 million below what his first film did, and $5 million total (this opened a day earlier) than after the first weekend last time.
Why then is there a sense of concern? First, with 3-D surcharges this time, it means overall fewer people went to see the film by a sizable margin. Second, educated advance expectations were for this to be at $100 million by this point. Third, unlike most expensive films, this likely will do a majority of its business in the U.S., so it needs to get to at least $250 million here. Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, in a summer heavy with sequels and franchise films, and after the first two big openers met or exceeded expectations, an early mild disappointment raises the fear level that the summer might not deliver.
This is Abrams' fourth film out of four that will easily pass the $100 million mark. The problem for Paramount is the $190 production cost and the question of how well ultimately foreign will do, despite early positive results. The worldwide total is $164 million, with multiple new countries opening this weekend after seven got the jump last week. Overall, the international grosses are up 33% from last time. But a 82% increase in foreign would mean an eventual total of $250 million, which combined with likely domestic numbers would mean around $500 million worldwide, putting this in the danger zone with all the production and marketing costs involved.
What comes next: With the three new openings next weekend, even with a normal 50% falloff this might be no better than #4. This needs strong word of mouth to hold against newcomers and get to the needed $250 million final total. Stay tuned.
2. Iron Man 3 (Buena Vista) Week 3 - Last weekend: #1
$35,182,000 (-51%) in 4,237 theaters (-16); PSA: $8,303; Cumulative: $337,073,000
Still very strong. The only quibble would be that its third weekend gross is $20 million less than "The Avengers" last year, with the total domestic gross about 70% of what last year's #1 film grossed. But with these huge numbers and the total worldwide take over $1 billion already, this takes "quibble" to absurd levels.
What comes next: Though this won't top last year's Marvel entry, this still could be the #1 film of 2013. Next weekend provides greater competition than did last year's Memorial Day releases (at least on paper), so this could fall to #5.
3. The Great Gatsby (Warner Bros.) Week 2 - Last weekend: #2
$23,415,000 (-53%) in 3,550 theaters (+15); PSA: $6,596; Cumulative: $90,159,000
The mixed news is that this took a big drop. The better news is it came from a bigger than expected opening, and $23 million marks a strong second weekend. This is headed to over $125 million in the U.S./Canada.
What comes next: Three big films opening Friday should accelerate the drop next weekend.
4. Pain & Gain (Paramount) Week 4 - Last weekend: #3
$3,100,000 (-38%) in 2,429 theaters (-874); PSA: $3,547; Cumulative: $46,574,000
A very weak gross to be #4 - we won't see anything like this until late August at the earliest. Still, with its relatively low under $30-million budget, this sustained OK performance, with all international yet to come, looks like a minor success.
What comes next: This won't add that much more, but this should end up in the mid 50s, not great but still better than a lot of male action-star films this year.