And so we finally have the true start of the summer movie season, and we may be starting off with the overall champion. But that it's not a guarantee tells us just how loaded May is, in which four films might top $100 million in their opening weekend.
Weekend Forecast for May 3-5, 2013
By Reagen Sulewski
May 3, 2013
Last year's summer season started off with The Avengers, which set nearly every important plausible box office record, except for the ones held by Avatar. Marvel's multiple movie project in building to that movie was executed to perfection, and that made for a $200-plus million opening weekend, over $600 million domestically, and $1.5 billion worldwide. Now, with that portion of the project wrapping up, it's time to start building towards The Avengers 2. And so we have Iron Man 3 this season.
I don't think anyone would have predicted ahead of time that Iron Man would be the highest value property of the Avengers lead-ins; Tony Stark is kind of a second-tier character in the comics, and one might have thought that Captain America would have led the way. But thanks in part to Robert Downey Jr.'s tremendous magnetism and the spectacular action sequences, it's quickly become the anchor of the story. It's also important to not overlook the fact that these films have been just plain fun, and are essentially a gimme for audiences.
The first Iron Man opened up to a then astonishing $102 million, with the second one managing $128 million two years later, despite not being very good, and not making a lot of sense. Those script issues may have been fixed by the introduction of new director and screenwriter Shane Black, who you may remember from every awesome action movie of the '80s and '90s. Black brings his “manliest manly man” reputation and aesthetic to this franchise, which is already filled a bit with testosterone. You may grow a beard just from watching it.
Robert Downey Jr. is of course back, as is Gwenyth Paltrow, with Ben Kingsley brought in to play The Mandarin, a sort of culturally questionable villain, but one of the most intimidating and effective of the comics. Here, he appears to be trying to teach Tony Stark a precise lesson in humility via explosions. Also returning is Don Cheadle as Col. Rhodes, Stark's best friend and sometimes rival, as well as James Badge Dale as an attempt by the government to build their own Iron Man, who will do their bidding.
In essence, the film's promotion has done a good job of hitting these touchstones that are important to super fans, but also just look really cool for casual fans. Everything is leading up to a truly massive opening weekend, one that could rival The Avengers' weekend, but should stay a bit behind it. The hype machine hasn't quite ramped up for this one, as it's “just” a new Iron Man movie. We should be headed for a three day (plus Thursday evening showings) of $161 million.
Nothing else has dared to challenge Iron Man 3, leaving us with a fairly bare list of returning films that will be significant in the box office. About three-quarters of the people who go to the movies this weekend will be seeing Iron Man 3. Pain & Gain leads the films just hoping to survive, as it opened last week to a mediocre $20 million. That's well below the expectations for Walhberg and Bay, although not necessarily for Johnson in non-car chase movies. Action movies with satirical elements just don't play, I guess. Look for this to drop to about $11 million.
Tom Cruise's Oblivion fell 50% in its second weekend, which is going to significantly limit the final total of this film. Where as $125 million was a good possibility prior to that, it's now more likely to have a final total of about $110 million. It should earn about $10 million this weekend.
42, the Jackie Robinson story, earned a solid $11 million in its third weekend, and itself seems to be headed toward $110 million or so. This would be a significant figure in that it's close to the total of A League of Their Own, which would make it the highest grossing baseball film of all time. That it's been 20 years since that feat is maybe something we should overlook, but a record is a record.