For the ninth time out of the last 11 years, a Marvel superhero movie will feasibly dominate the second weekend of the summer box office: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is currently expected to earn $66M-$73M in first place, repping a 50%-55% decline during its sophomore session. Should GOTG2 gross near the top of that range, it will be close to Captain America: Civil War‘s $72.6M second weekend a year ago.
Yesterday, GOTG2 logged $12M, a 22% jump from Disney’s final Monday figure of $9.86M, and the fourth best Tuesday in May after The Avengers ($17.6M), Civil War ($13.76M) and Avengers: Age of Ultron ($13.1M). GOTG2 also beat GOTG‘s Tuesday of $11.9M.
Given the stamina of Marvel product at this point during May, rival distributors brace for this. Either they counterprogram and take advantage of the female audience on Mother’s Day weekend, which is what 20th Century Fox is doing with Chernin Entertainment’s Amy Schumer-Goldie Hawn R-rated comedy Snatched on track for a mid-teens opening at 3,488 locations.
The majors can also program a slightly bigger tentpole than a Marvel movie, which doesn’t happen often; one of the more successful times being in 2009 with Paramount’s Star Trek ($79.2M opening) following in the wake of 20th Century Fox/Marvel’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Lastly, a major can put their most expensive gambles on this weekend when its arguably less crowded than deepest summer. That’s what Warner Bros. is doing with its Village Roadshow co-production King Arthur: Legend of the Sword which at a very expensive $175M production cost before P&A won’t provide any Camelot at the B.O. with a deadly stateside debut of $25M in 3,650 theaters.
In earnest, WB jumped King Arthur around the calendar four times, trying to get the best date: First the Guy Ritchie-directed movie was dated on July 22 of last year, then Feb. 17 of this year. It was moved during those times due to the fact that the film wasn’t ready. King Arthur landed on March 24 but in December, WB relocated it away to this Friday in order to flee from Sony/Skydance’s Life. That movie for a second looked promising, but fizzled greatly.
King Arthur will also trot into 51 overseas territories including China, but it’s questionable whether overseas will be its almighty savior; one of its being foes is 20th Century Fox’s Alien: Covenant. Even if this antique IP beats its domestic projections and miraculously opens to $40M, it’s still not enough to be considered profitable. Keep in mind Warner Bros./Village Roadshow’s The Legend of Tarzan lost an estimated $40M per Deadline film finance sources and that had a similar negative cost to King Arthur, but with a $46.6M four-day domestic debut, $126.6M U.S/Canada final tally and $356.7M worldwide total. WB Insiders assert the movie broke even.
In the past, Warner Bros. has opened some of its most expensive titles during the second weekend of May with varying results: Speed Racer ($120M production cost, $93M global B.O.) and Dark Shadows tanked ($150M cost, $245.5M global), while Troy ($175M cost, $497M global) and The Great Gatsby ($105M cost, $351M global) where arguably redeemed by foreign results.
Currently, reviews for Ritchie’s King Arthur make his previous artistic bomb The Man From U.N.C.L.E. look like Citizen Kane with respectively 21% rotten to 67% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. U.N.C.L.E., an antiquated brand based on the 1960s TV series, opened to $13M domestic with a final $109.8M global tally off a $75M production cost. Previews start tomorrow night at 7PM for King Arthur, and the film will look for help from 3D and PLF pricing.
On Fandango, Snatched is currently beating Amy Poehler-Tina Fey’s Sisters in advance ticket sales. That R-rated comedy opened to $13.9M, but in the shadow of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If reviews click upward for Snatched (currently at 35% Rotten), it could potentially overperform. This mom-daughter road comedy was written by Katie Dippold who was responsible for Paul Feig’s The Heat and Ghostbusters. Schumer’s previous R-rated romantic comedy Trainwreck was written by the stand-up and directed by Judd Apatow. Originally that movie was projected to land in the mid-teens to $20M and smashed those forecasts aside with a $30M debut. Trainwreck cost an estimated $35M before P&A and Snatched is only slightly more with a $42M pricetag. Previews begin tomorrow at 7PM.