What's often thought of as a prime summer box office weekend hits a quirk of the calendar this time around, leaving the July 4th holiday as a minor dead zone. Two fairly inessential sequels lead the way for new films, with one of them likely to win by default. And here we thought the box office had turned around.
Weekend Forecast for July 3-5, 2015
By Reagen Sulewski
July 3, 2015
Both films opened on Wednesday, giving us a fairly good insight into what they should make on the weekend, and it's not particularly pretty. Magic Mike XXL grabbed a little over $9 million on Wednesday to lead the way in what's ultimately going to be a bit of a soft (flaccid?) opening. Three years ago, just before Channing Tatum became CHANNING TATUM!, Steven Soderbergh made the curious decision to direct a romantic comedy about male strippers, starring the previously mentioned hunk of beef. Tapping into a relatively underserved market, it opened to about $39 million and finished with $113 million domestic. Because it had the Soderbergh touch, it actually had a higher-than-average degree of thought into its screenplay, having more than a little to say about gender politics and the effect of the Great Recession.
True to form for sequels, however, XXL just focuses on the stripping part, with Tatum's character coming back for One More Big Show, turning this into essentially a Step Up movie (of which Tatum is certainly familiar with) except with a lot more male nudity. Several of the dancers from the last film return, including Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez, Joe Mangianello and Kevin Nash, but notably not Matthew McConaughey (who could have had a great little routine with an Oscar all worked out) and Alex Pettyfer, nor any of the female leads or supporting actresses. Without all the pretense, this may just be the most female focused movie in history (Sex and the City 2 thinks this film could do a little better to attract men), and thus we'll probably see a bit of a decline from the first film's opening, despite Tatum's better fame and the high-profile release slot. With July 4th falling on a Saturday, films could expect to lose as much as a third of their business on that day as people choose BBQs and fireworks over films, turning what can be a great box office day into a poisoned one. Just ask Armageddon. I'd look for just around $32 million over three days here.
Terminator Genisys goes back to its very beginnings in an attempt to give what may be one last recharge to the 30-year-old franchise if the reviews are right. Playing with time travel in a way that probably has Shane Carruth nodding in appreciation, it sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke, aka Khaleesi) from the incoming time traveling Terminator, and oh, also to impregnate her so that John Connor (Jason Clarke) exists to fight Skynet after Judgment Day. Essentially erasing away all of the last three movies, we find that a T-800 had been sent back years ago to protect Connor, enlightening her to the dangers years and years ago. She's already in peak T2 form, while the T-800 is still chugging along despite looking like nearly-70-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger. A vintage model shows up to kill Sarah Connor, while a T-1000 (played by Korean star Byung-hun Lee) complicates things even further. Try not to think about it too hard lest you go cross-eyed.
Despite receiving the James Cameron official Seal of Approval (notable, since he was none too happy about the last two Terminator films (3 was pretty good, Jim!), Genisys has receiving middling-to-terrible reviews and hasn't been able to escape the deterioration of the brand. That's not even to mention some pretty terrible ads that rely on wink wink nods to the earlier films as well as stunt nostalgia (new Ahnuld vs old Ahnuld! Come and see the CGI circus!). Starting with a little under $9 million, that's another foreboding figure, and with the anti-weekend ahead of us, this could mean just $30 million for the three-day figure.
That's probably big enough to beat our returning films, with Jurassic World just managing a third weekend at the top spot, earning $54 million and hitting the $500 million milestone on Sunday. Returning films are a little less vulnerable to the July 4th effect, and it should still earn about $26 million this frame.
Inside Out failed to take away top spot last weekend, but still brought in $52 million in its own right, a fine figure for a second weekend, as it crosses $200 million in its mid-week take. The competing effects of strong word-of-mouth and front loading mostly balanced out, but the holiday effect should take a little bite out of it, dropping it to $27 million.
Ted 2 suffered significant fallback from its original film, earning just $33 million after the $50-plus of Ted 1. Seth MacFarlane's shtick definitely seems to have a limited shelf life, and that first film may have been his one and only home run swing cinematically. I'd expect this to take a heavy hit this weekend, dropping to $14 million.
Pre-teen boy and his dog film Max exceeded expectations ever so slightly, earning $12 million, but this is likely the last time we'll end up talking about it, as it earns about $7 million this weekend on its way to about $35 million total.