Good reviews and a phenomenal marketing campaign did their job this weekend. No number of foot-in-mouth moments from Matt Damon could harm the opening weekend of The Martian, which opened in the number one spot at the box office. After a surprisingly robust September, this is another sign that we may very looking at one of the bigger fall movie seasons in quite some time.
Summer is officially over, September is here, and the movies stink. While the big releases and heavy-hitters of the fall movie season make the festival rounds or rev up their marketing campaigns, audiences have to tough it out and wade through a lot of not-so-good movies. Welcome to September. It’s like this every year. Get ready for an excruciating month at the movies and at the box office.
A few weeks ago, tracking for Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation was supposedly in the toilet. Early reports suggested that Tom Cruise’s fifth outing as super-spy Ethan Hunt was not getting people excited. This would be the end, the experts said, of a franchise that has kept Cruise’s career surging forward for the past two decades. Well, that was apparently a big load of crap because Rogue Nation opened well and opened in the same ballpark as the rest of the franchise. Even with inflation differences, this series keeps on hitting the same box office sweet spot.
When Universal scheduled Ted 2, they surely had no idea that Seth MacFarlane’s swearing teddy bear sequel would be squaring off against one of the biggest box office juggernauts of all time...a juggernaut that they themselves had created. So it’s not surprising that Jurassic World topped the box office again and it’s not surprising that Pixar’s Inside Out held onto second place. What is a little surprising is how low Ted 2 opened, falling significantly short of its predecessor’s opening weekend.
Everyone knew that Jurassic World was going to open big, but no one saw this coming. The fourth film in the beloved dinosaur-centric franchise had the second biggest domestic opening of all time, the biggest June opening of all time, and, with $511 million worldwide, the biggest international opening of all time. It also broke a bunch of records that we’ll get to in a few minutes. This was supposed to be the summer of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Unless something goes horribly wrong, this is officially the summer of Jurassic World.
Tomorrowland may have taken the top spot at the box office in its debut weekend, but things still look awfully grim for the George Clooney sci-fi vehicle. Not only did the film open far below expectations, it faced serious competition in Pitch Perfect 2, which continued to kick aca-butt in its second weekend. And it wasn’t the only new release to under-perform, with the Poltergeist remake also falling short of early predictions. If you were a new release this weekend, things were awfully rough.
For the third week in a row, Furious 7 took the top spot at the box office and made it look easy. Not even a trio of newcomers could slow down the latest entry in the crowd-pleasing action series, which has become the fastest film to reach $1 billion worldwide. On the domestic box office, it’s equally impressive. It’s a juggernaut. A cultural event. At the end of the day, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 may make some money, but it’s making that money in the shadow of a genuine phenomenon.
What does a movie studio want out of its sequels? Is a sequel a failure if it simply matches its predecessor or does it need to make more money? That’s the big question that’s swirling around Insurgent, which made almost exactly as much as Divergent did one year ago. Seriously: there’s only a $500,000 difference in their opening weekends. So is Insurgent a success or a disappointment?
With some of the year’s biggest movies only a month or two away, the box office seems to have entered a holding pattern. Some of the new releases are minor hits. Others crash and burn. Right now, Hollywood just seems to be crossing their fingers and hoping for the sweet, sweet summer movie season to come along and save them (or at least the April release of Furious 7). In other words, every new release underperformed this weekend.
ScreenCrush wraps up the latest in movies and TV you might have missed. Today, Frozen finally makes its move to Broadway, a Space Invaders movie (!) gets a writer, and a ranking of all of Djimon Hounsou’s sidekick roles.
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