And thus we reach the summer movie season, where every weekend is designed, at least in theory, to bring us at least one blockbuster. Where April's numbers were eye-popping and anomalous, now May's numbers are eye-popping and expected.
Weekend Forecast for May 2-4, 2014
By Reagen Sulewski
May 2, 2014
With the 10th anniversary of Mean Girls recently, it seems appropriate that this summer's superhero movies are the equivalent of trying to make fetch happen. 2012 saw the relaunch of the Spider-Man franchise after Sony forced out Sam Raimi for making the bad Spider-Man movie they told him to make. Not that I'm bitter or anything *cough*. The lower-key, less heightened reality version for The Amazing Spider-Man worked to some degree, but seemed less special and failed to really make the case as to why it needed to exist, even if Andrew Garfield did make a better Peter Parker than Tobey Maguire. With about $260 million domestic and around three-quarters of a billion internationally, the inevitable sequel has arrived, and seems to be falling into the same old superhero pattern.
Yes, it's Villainpalooza time, with not just Green Goblin, but Electro and The Rhino (the *worst* Spider-Man villain ever), plus a couple more that you probably aren't familiar with thrown in for good measure. For the villains, it's a strange mix of well-known (Jamie Foxx and Paul Giamatti) and the lesser-known (Dane DeHaan, looking extraordinarily creepy), although there's never been any kind of evidence that the person playing a superhero/villain role actually makes much difference to the box office just in terms of star power (appropriateness, yes. Star power, not even). This is all in service of the larger plot they seem to be developing where Peter's parents (played by Campbell Scott and Embeth Daivitz) are still alive and on the run from Oscorp, and its secret plans for world villainy/domination or some such.
In a positive development over the first film, the action seems to be much improved, with the larger scale of the film resulting in larger set pieces. Emma Stone is still around as Gwen Stacy, with their easy chemistry (as even people in Deepest Africa know now, these two are an item in real life) making the film that much better and grounding the film as a realistic teen romance (despite the pair being 31 and 26 in real life). So there are positives here. It is hard to shake, however, the notion that this franchise doesn't have a lot of reason to exist. Going through the motions again on Green Goblin doesn't make for awesome cinema, and that storyline likely appeals to only hardcore comic fans. Then again, that demographic is larger than it used to be, particularly when it comes to movies, and comic books have been telling the same stories for 50 years, so what do I know? There is a particularly large portion of the audience that just says “Ooh, shiny, Spider-Man!” so it's not like they're going to be going hat in hand.
The first Amazing Spider-Man grossed an underwhelming $62 million in its opening weekend, though it suffered a bit from an extended five day bow (seriously, why do these anymore?). Sony is undoubtedly hoping that it gets the same treatment here as the other Marvel movies, in that the proof of concept leads to a much better result for the second movie. That seems relatively assured, but to what extent is still up for debate. Reviews for the sequel are not great, missing the near universal acclaim of the first two Raimi Spider-Man films. Previous Marvel films have jumped $20 to $30 million upon sequelization, and Amazing Spider-Man 2 seems like a candidate for the lower end of this, if not out the bottom end of that. Of course, we have to calibrate some for the extended opening of the last one, so on over 4,300 venues, it should open to around $90 million.
No other new films open this weekend, leaving The Other Woman to finish second after its surprisingly strong opening weekend. The female-targeted film started with $24 million, and ought to see some level of legs, as this demo is not known for rushing into theaters. Give it $15 million in its second frame.
Captain America: Winter Soldier faces up against another Marvel film, but with $225 million in the bank, anything it might lose from direct competition isn't very significant at this point. Add another $10 million to its coffers this weekend.
Heaven is For Real adds a few hundred screens in its third weekend, but we're past the point where this could really make much of a difference to the bottom line. Give it $9 million this weekend, on its way to around $90 million.
Rio 2 should see about $8 million in its fourth weekend, falling square in the middle of most modern animated features in terms of final potential, with around $125 million. International totals are already above $250 million, so the chances of a Rio 3 are surprisingly high.