Top 12 Film Industry Stories of 2007: #2:
Summer of Three-quels Does Not Disappoint
By Kim Hollis
January 1, 2008
In the beginning of 2007, when we started really closely eyeing the movie release schedule, a notion came to us. The summer season had a grand total of six third-in-a-series films set to see theaters during that time frame, along with a number of additional sequels and outstanding original material. Summer 2007 had a chance to be huge. Would it hold up that way, or would audiences be tired of unoriginal ideas and stay home in protest?
Those of you who read this site on even an infrequent basis know how it all played out. The summer of 2007 was simply massive, producing $4 billion in revenue and establishing that crowds would still come out to the theater if the right projects were there. In fact, the only bona fide disappointment during this time frame was Evan Almighty, a movie that earned $100.3 million against a massive budget of $175 million. I think the lesson we can all take from that performance (as well as Son of the Mask and Dumb and Dumberer) is that Jim Carrey declines to do sequels for a reason.
It all started in May, which has come to be the de facto beginning of the Summer season for Hollywood. If you have been following along this week, you will know that in its first weekend, Spider-Man 3 set the box office records for biggest Friday, Saturday and Sunday of all-time, which naturally added up to an opening weekend that blew the previous record-holder out of the water. $151.1 million in three days was nothing short of a whomping of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, which had debuted to $135.6 million about ten months earlier. It seemed that the web-slinger was ticked that the record from the original Spider-Man had been broken, and as such, went after his mortal enemy Jack Sparrow with a vengeance.
In the end, though, Spider-Man 3 turned out to be the least successful of the Spider-Man films, which can surely be attributed to questionable word-of-mouth that came from $151.1 million worth of ticket holders from weekend one. After the first two movies in the series were extremely well-received by audiences, they simply weren't ready to buy a dancing Spider-Man or the combination of villains he took on in this installment. The end result was $336.5 million domestically, which is nothing to sneeze at but slightly disappointing in comparison to the performance of the first two films. Of course, if we compare world wide box office, Spider-Man 3 is a champ, with $885.4 million in receipts compared to Spider-Man's $821.6 and Spider-Man 2's $791.4.
The second of three third-in-a-series films to open in May was Shrek the Third, which also got off to a blazing start. The big green ogre found an opening weekend total of $121.6 million, which is particularly glorious when compared to Shrek 2's first frame of $108 million. Like Spider-Man 3, though Shrek the Third had a problem. Audiences (and critics) simply didn't like it as much as the first two films, or perhaps a bit of fairy tale malaise had set in. Shrek the Third's final domestic tally was $321 million, which was far beneath the $436.5 earned by the second film in the franchise. Still, with worldwide totals that approach $800 million, no one is crying for DreamWorks/Paramount. And, by the way, that's two $300 million films that were released before we even hit June.