Weekend Wrap-Up

Monsters and Zombies: Summer Box Office Style

By John Hamann

June 23, 2013

Is Sully playing soccer with Mike Wazowski as the ball?

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The box office is on a roll like we’ve rarely ever seen. Iron Man, Star Trek, Gatsby, Fast & Furious 6, Now You See Me, The Purge, Man of Steel and now Monsters University and World War Z have added up to big, big dollars. This is our third weekend where the top 12 have exceeded $200 million, and last weekend missed the mark by $3 million. We are having a May/June for the ages at the box office.

This weekend, Monsters University and World War Z combine for a one-two punch of $148 million, easily outgrossing last weekend’s huge opening for the Man of Steel ($116.6 million). The totals for a first and second place film aren’t often this big, because Hollywood has too much on the line to risk putting demographically similar movies out on the same weekend unless they are massive holidays. My memory takes me back to Christmas 2009, when Avatar was on top with $75.6 million in weekend two, but was followed by big openers like Sherlock Holmes 2 ($62.3 million), Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel ($48.9 million), and It’s Complicated ($22.1 million). It also reminds me of Memorial Day weekend in 2004, when Shrek 2 spent its second weekend at $72.2 million, and The Day After Tomorrow opened to $68.7 million. This weekend is about the openers, though, like the weekend The Dark Knight opened to $158.4 million and Mamma Mia! still somehow found $27.8 million, or when Twilight: New Moon opened to $142.8 million and The Blind Side still took in $34.1 million. Probably the best example though happened this summer, when Fast & Furious 6 opened to $97.4 million, Hangover Part III took in $41.7 million and Epic took in $33.5 million – all from opening weekends. Did I mention how awesome of a summer it’s been so far?


Our number one film of the weekend is Monsters University, as more kids and families came to theaters this weekend than Brad Pitt and zombie lovers. Pixar is back after Brave ($66.3 million opening) and Cars 2 ($66.1 million opening) were a little softer in their first weekends than previous Pixar releases like Toy Story 3 ($110.7 million). Monsters University posts the second biggest Pixar debut of all time at $82 million, which includes the $2.6 million earned through Thursday previews. It opened to a very wide 4,004 venues, and carried a venue average of $20,480. The prequel is the fourth widest release in Pixar’s history, behind Toy Story 3, Cars 2 and Brave – which leaves me thinking the studio has learned something from the somewhat disappointing Brave and the downright awful Cars 2.

Monsters University got started on Thursday night, earning that $2.6 million, a figure that’s not at all bad for a kids movie that only had showings after 8 p.m. The Friday number was an astounding $30.5 million, but was more like $27.9 million once those midnight showings were removed. Toy Story 3 earned $41.1 million on its first Friday, but had $4 million from Friday showings. It went on to drop 10% on Saturday to $37.1 million and down to $32.1 million on Sunday. For Monsters University, the trend was similar, as it earned $28.8 million on Saturday, down 6% from the inflated Friday number. Over the entire weekend, Monsters University had a weekend multiplier (weekend gross divided by "true" Friday gross) of 2.9, a number expected for a film with this target, especially with a lot of kids out of school on Friday to start summer vacations. Over most of the year, multipliers for kids films can be quite high (3.8-4.0) as kids are less available on a Friday, thus running the multiplier up because the Friday gross is lower. With summer holidays in play, the multiplier evens out, drastically reducing it towards 3.0. The original Monsters, Inc. opened to $62.6 million back in November 2001, and had a multiplier of 3.51.

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