Box Office Labors Badly Toward Summer Finish
By John Hamann
August 31, 2014
Ugly does not begin to describe this Labor Day weekend at the box office.
As expected, the box office hit its lowest point since February over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of the Labor Day weekend, as both openers were soft, leaving it up to the Guardians-led holdovers to keep things from getting really ugly. The non-starter openers this weekend were As Above, So Below, the low-budget horror effort from Legendary and Universal, and The November Man, the Pierce Brosnan-led actioner that was a cheap pickup for Relativity Media. There wasn’t a lot of risk for the newbies, which leaves us to celebrate – once again – the power of Marvel and Disney as Guardians of the Galaxy rules for the third time, in its fifth weekend.
Yes, our number one film for the second straight weekend is Guardians of the Galaxy, the Marvel release that has spent three of its five weekends in release at number one – and will likely have another next weekend. Guardians is one of the few good news stories in the top 10, as it earned another $16.3 million and dropped 5%. That hold is good considering this is weekend five, and also given the fact that the film has already earned more than $250 million coming in to the weekend.
The performance of Guardians of the Galaxy over the last two weekends (and the next) further reinforces the smartness of the release strategy. Disney and Marvel released it during the first weekend in August (after pumping advertising all summer) and didn’t have the blockbuster competition to face immediately after their opening weekends like X-Men: Days of Future Past or Godzilla (just to name a few). With the softer competition, Guardians, after opening to $94.3 million, has seen drops of 55%, 40%, 32% and now 5%. Godzilla, another $90 million plus opener, saw drops of 67%, 61%, 49% and 46%. This shows that while opening weekend is important, what happens afterward shouldn’t be dismissed, as Godzilla topped out at $200 million, whereas Guardians of the Galaxy is going to approach $300 million.
Guardians of the Galaxy becomes the biggest domestic earner (so far) of 2014, as it leapfrogged another Marvel title, Captain America: The Winter Soldier this weekend. Captain America 2 earned $260 million at the domestic box office, a number Guardians usurped on Friday night when it earned $3.8 million to bring its total to $262.1 million. Guardians has a long way to go still to win the worldwide battle, as Captain America 2 pulled in $454 million overseas for a global total of $714 million. So far, Guardians has earned $245 million for a global total of $547.7 million. Groot and friends still have yet to appear in some key markets like China and Japan, and the film debuts in Germany this weekend. Those three markets alone were worth $135 million to the Winter Soldier, and if Guardians does similar business, it would put it in the ballpark of the previous Marvel release for a worldwide total. So far, Guardians of the Galaxy has earned $274.6 million domestic, and unless something strange happens, it will be number one again next weekend.
That puts Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in second place, so after two weekends at number one, it spends two weekends at number two and will likely add a third weekend in the runner up spot next weekend. This weekend, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles earned another $11.8 million, declining a not bad 30% in its fourth weekend. The $125 million Paramount/Nickelodeon combo has now earned $162.4 million stateside and is approaching $100 million overseas, which unfortunately means we will be navigating around TMNT sequels for years to come.
Third place goes to If I Stay, last weekend’s young adult weeper, with Chloe Grace Moretz having an out of body experience. After finishing a close third last weekend with $15.7 million and an A- Cinemascore, If I Stay has done better than some other YA novel adaptions, earning $9.3 million in its second frame. That gives the Warner Bros. Kleenex-puller a drop of 41%, and will push the $11 million picture toward profitability, with a gross so far of $29.8 million. No one will get hurt with this one, and If I Stay proves to be another decent choice for Moretz, who appears next in Denzel’s version of The Equalizer, which opens in late September.