Friday Box Office Analysis
By David Mumpower
August 24, 2013

Also, make sure someone gets our picture in focus.

The lucrative summer box office season is approaching its final stop. As kids and college students prepare for the start of fall classes, Hollywood attempts to launch a final few movies. The goal is to eke out every final bit of potential revenue during this record-setting summer frame. Alas, the three titles released into theaters this weekend were introduced to a collective yawn from consumers.

Once again, Lee Daniels' The Butler and Jennifer Aniston’s We’re the Millers will finish in first and second place. The Butler grossed another $4.8 million on Friday, falling a respectable 42% from last Friday’s $8.3 million. Daniels' latest movie has already grossed $40.1 million worldwide and will surpass Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire’s $47.6 million by tomorrow afternoon.

Meanwhile, We’re the Millers experienced tremendous holdover appeal from last Friday, falling only 27% from $5.4 million last week to $4 million yesterday. We’re the Millers has earned $82.2 million already. Interestingly, a potential There’s Something About Mary scenario is developing wherein the comedy could surpass the Oscar contender next weekend if both films demonstrate that same holding pattern. On the very slight chance that the One Direction movie pulls a Jonas Brothers, We’re the Millers could become the number one movie in its fourth weekend in release. This is exactly how the scenario played out in 1998 when all of the end of summer movies failed to impress while There’s Something about Mary remained constant in its demand. Still, I give the odds of this less than 20% since I have seen the look in my niece’s eye when the subject of One Direction is broached.

The most popular new opener this weekend comes with a lingering sense of déjà vu a couple of different ways. The World’s End is thematically identical to the early summer hit, This Is the End. And The World’s End also features BOP favorites Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright performing the same shtick that caused us to fall in love with them back before anyone in North America had heard of Spaced. Audiences continue to embrace the “subtle blend of lateral thinking” and sophomoric humor that has carried Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead to strong worldwide box office receipts, especially with regards to return on investment.

The World’s End will be no different as the $20 million production has already earned roughly $16 million internationally. Its $3.5 debut in North America on Friday is indicative of a total weekend take of $9.8 million, which will fall a bit short of the most recent Pegg/Frost buddy movie, Paul, which debuted to $13 million. Still, Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg have demonstrated a dazzling ability to create quality action comedies at fiscally conservative costs. The World’s End is an immediate financial success domestically after already accomplishing this feat internationally.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones became the latest Hollywood attempt to fill the void left in the wake of The Twilight Saga’s conclusion. As has been the case with other such attempts, The Mortal Instruments was determined to be an obvious fraud or, at the very least, far too lacking in vampires. The $60 million production garnered only $3.1 million on Friday, bringing its three-day gross to a disastrous $7.9 million. By the end of the weekend, City of Bones should total $13.2 million, which places it slightly ahead of Beautiful Creatures on the Twilight Imitators Scale. There are six Mortal Instruments books thus far. Based on the box office behavior of City of Bones thus far, there will be only one movie adaptation.

You’re Next had been the darling of box office tracking heading into the weekend, but reality struck on Friday. The Lionsgate purchase grossed only $3 million on Friday, thereby confirming its status as the most disappointing opener of a trio of sub-$10 million performers. Nobody wants that title. The horror film was positioned as a Strangers clone, but apparently animal masks are nowhere near as enticing as Joker and Scarecrow masks. Cosmetically, there is little different between the two movies save for the quality of the trailers. Audiences deduced that You’re Next was derivative, and dismissed it out of hand as inferior. A weekend take of $7.8 million is still a dazzling accomplishment for the filmmakers, who produced the movie for less than a million in 2011. During the Toronto Film Festival that year, Lionsgate acquired the rights for under $2 million, so You’re Next will probably wind up as the most profitable of the three next releases this week, at least domestically.