The Very Big Opening of Transformers: Age Of Extinction did nothing to lift the box office for the first half of the year. It’s basically flat when compared to 2013, down .8%. The box office summer — which semi-officially begins the first Friday of May — is way off, down 14.9% from 2013, when the box office was plumped up by such films as Iron Man 3 and Monsters University. We have neither a $300M grosser nor do we have a $100M opening weekend yet. It would be great to see Fox’s The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes pull it off, but expectations are that we won’t see it until November, when Lionsgate bows its adaptation of the first part of the last book of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games‘ trilogy, Mockingjay.
Last year was a record year at the box office. “Comparing to last year’s record, you have to keep up and hit it of the park every time and that’s difficult to do. It’ll happen next year, but it a cyclical business,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media anaylst with Rentrak. “People can talk about all these external forces going on like The World Cup and weather, but when you have the product, it delivers.”
Right now, Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures Godzilla is the only picture in history to have had an opening weekend larger than $90M that has yet to cross $200M mark for its domestic cume. This past weekend Sony dragged The Amazing Spider-Man 2 across that threshold and family audiences gladly pushed Disney’s Maleficent to that distinction. What’s funny is that Disney stealthily added 97 theaters this past weekend, 53% more of what it was holding onto (going from 184 theaters to 281) to squeeze out just enough additional gross revenues — another $403K — to block Warner Bros’ The Lego Movie, the leader at the clubhouse turn before this weekend to take the half-year derby bragging rights. Let’s take a look:
So why is the year flat and the summer down 14.9%? “It comes down to the product,” said Dergarabedian. “Last year, we kicked off with Iron Man 3, and then the summer movie season was hit after hit after hit. Last summer, there were these pictures that exceeded expectations and this summer, the wealth has been spread. We had superhero movies already, we had R-rated comedies, and we had the unexpected with The Fault in Our Stars. Next year, I can already tell you what is going to be huge. This is more of a normal summer. It’s not like we kicked off with an Avengers this summer, but next year we’re going to have that.” Next year, moviegoers will have another Fast and Furious, Avengers and Ted movie in the summer and then Star Wars and the second Mockingjay, to name a few in the holiday season.
The list of best weekend openers for 2014 so far, even minus the inflated numbers that Paramount Pictures put out, is still topped by Transformers: Age of Extinction with what everyone else in the industry says had a three-day gross of $97.5M. That bested Disney/Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier by $2.5M. Only three of the top openers of 2014’s first half debuted before summer, and it comes as no surprise that seven of the top 10 big openers are big-budget sequels of some sort (however you want to define Godzilla). Only The Lego Movie, Maleficent and Divergent are new properties (again, depending on how you like to define “new,” given that all are based on existing intellectual property licenses). Given their successes, sequels are already planned for two of the three. Anyway, take a look at the Big Openers Top 10 below: