Friday Box Office Analysis
By David Mumpower
August 10, 2013
We’re The Millers was produced for a paltry $37 million, so it will be in the black in a matter of days. Apparently, the tactic of selling North America on the idea of receiving a lap dance from Jennifer Aniston was a shrewd marketing ploy. Of course, the grim news for Ms. Aniston is that her latest attempt to recreate the popularity of Marley & Me and The Break-Up forced her to become 2013’s answer to Stifler’s Mom.
Unquestionably the most divisive release of the weekend is Planes, which finished in third place with $8.1 million on Friday. Originally announced as a straight-to-DVDe title, Planes was a blatant by Disney to expand the world of Cars beyond the core concept. Many hysterical columns have been written about the disturbing dystopian society that has borne witness to the extinction of humanity in favor of sentient vehicles. All of that is irrelevant to the franchise’s target audience, young boys. Cars has become the most popular toy brand since Star Wars, and I say that without hyperbole. Any time toy sales are measured in the billions, even Disney’s bottom line can be positively impacted.
Of course, the flip side of the coin is that Planes embodies every negative aspect of shameless commercialism. From a creative perspective, there was absolutely no need for a Cars sequel in 2011. A Planes movie in 2013 is begging for incendiary critical analysis. None of that matters to Disney, though. If Planes merchandise proves to be even 10% as popular as Cars, they have expanded the brand by 10%, which is again no small feat since the franchise’s toy sales ARE measured in the billions. As such, any revenue Planes grosses worldwide is like more gold in a dragon’s den. How much is enough? Only Disney accountants know. Planes is headed for a weekend total of $25 million, which will allow it to overtake We’re The Millers for second place. In the end, the primary determinant in the success or failure of Planes is toy sales, though.
Over the past two years, the unwelcome sequel has been a phenomenon debated to death in our industry. Perhaps no 2013 title represents the concept better than Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, the follow-up to 2010’s Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief. While I credit Fox for streamlining the title from an unwieldy eight words to a slightly less awkward five, the existence of this project still leads to more questions than answers.
The original Percy Jackson movie grossed only $88.8 million domestically against a production budget of $95 million. The overseas revenue of $137.7 million was barely enough to switch the title from bomb to box office draw. Despite this lackluster performance, Fox forged ahead with their intended plan to create a franchise from Rick Riordan’s five book series. To their credit, they did reduce the budget by $5 million to minimize risk, but I have to believe that there were better uses of $90 million than this particular sequel.
North American audiences were predictably indifferent to the new product. The movie grossed $4.9 million on Friday, bringing its three-day total to $13.8 million. For comparison, the first film earned $31.2 million in its first three days so this is a Narnia situation developing. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters should gross $15.2 million this weekend with a grand total of $24.1 million. The project will once again require overseas revenue to save it from being a bomb, presuming that lightning strikes twice. I refuse to make a pun/joke about lightning thieves here but you are warmly encouraged to do so.