Ugly Fails to Describe the Post-Labor Day Box Office
By John Hamann
September 7, 2014
How low can the box office go? I think we have just found out, as the top 12 films at the box office earned only $51.9 million this weekend. Thank goodness the NFL is back.
With studios steering extremely clear of the Labor Day weekend and the black hole weekend that follows, moviegoing grinds to a halt, and we are left with a very similar top 12 grouping that has been in place for the last few weekends. The only new release this weekend, The Identical, only reinforces the point about not opening films over the first two weekends of September. It flopped badly, as not even the faith-based audience it caters to came out to see it this weekend. We are left with one of the slowest moviegoing weekend in years, with the top 12 films barely mustering $50 million in combined sales. Averaged out, that’s $4.2 million per picture, and at that rate, one might think it’s cheaper to close theaters that to leave them open. There is simply no audience coming out this weekend.
That means that once again, for the third weekend in a row and fourth in its six-weekend run, Guardians of the Galaxy is our number one film. While all those number ones look good on paper, this is a post-stat holiday weekend, which means that scores tumble compared to the previous weekend. The Labor Day Sunday acts more like a Saturday, and therefore this weekend suffers even more. That means that Guardians, which earned $17.1 million over three days last weekend, dropped 41% this weekend, leaving the Marvel film with a weekend take of only $10.2 million.
For Guardians of the Galaxy, the result may not be newsworthy, but it does keep the Marvel product at the top of the heap for another weekend and will only work to further cement this name and these characters into North America’s consciousness. These "wins" will help to push the sequel forward and assist the Marvel brand. Marvel now has had seven number one weekends this year between Captain America 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy. It also pushes the Guardians total closer to $300 million, as the picture has now pulled in $294.6 million on the domestic front, It should cross the $300 million mark somewhere over the next week. Its current take is $292 million, and it debuts in Japan next weekend and in China on October 10th. With these two big markets remaining, Guardians could still pad its overseas take by $100 million plus, especially if it does Winter Soldier type business.
Despite trailing early in the weekend, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles still holds on to second place. The Paramount/Nickelodeon release earned another $6.5 million, dropping 46% from its $11.9 million gross last weekend. Ninja Turtles, with its $125 million budget, has now earned $174.6 million at the domestic box office and has pulled in $112 million overseas.
If I Stay, which continues to hold at number three, earned $5.8 million this weekend, falling 38%. Warner Bros. made a smart move releasing If I Stay over the August 22nd weekend, as it has managed to earn $39.7 million since opening, as it wasn’t tossed after its opening frame. The small, $11 million film could finish with as much as $50 million at the domestic box office, and additionally earn a few dollars overseas. For studios, the positive side to the lack of choice at movie theaters is that these sub-par releases tend to tread water for a few weekends, much like The Butler and We’re the Millers did last year.