Soft Openers Cool Box Office Momentum
By John Hamann
July 26, 2015
Pixels got started on Thursday night at previews, earning a sad $1.5 million, which was a distant second to the $2 million that Paper Towns took in. Obviously, moviegoers were not stoked to see Pixels, and the writing was on the wall for the rest of the weekend. The Thursday/Friday combo was $9.2 million, or $7.7 million with the Thursday removed. The question became whether kids would show up for the CG action, or if Sandler’s dwindling fanbase had already seen it - leaving Pixels to wane over the rest of the weekend.
Over the three-day portion of the frame, Pixels earned $24.8 million from a massive screen count of 3,723. The Sony release cost $88 million to make, so this is not enough of a domestic start for a film with big special effects. Those effects will help sell it overseas, along with Sandler, but it will need to make up some serious ground. Pixels will need to make $270 million worldwide to recoup production and marketing costs; it should make $70 million stateside (the awful Jack and Jill earned $75 million domestic with a similar debut), which means it will be a long shot bet at finding a profit.
Pixels could have been a good film. Scott Pilgrim vs The World proves that, with its 80’s gaming concepts made fun on the screen. However, the mistake here is making this an Adam Sandler/Happy Madison film, all the way to having Kevin James play the President and a bunch of members of Sandler’s family having small parts. This concept would work with a more solid script and if Sandler had played against his usual type. It would also help if he'd stop using expensive films as family reunions (Grown-Ups). As the producers chose to bow to Sandler, Pixels finished with a B Cinemascore. Unless the film is embraced heavily in Asia, Sony should prepare for a decent sized write-down. This is another good idea wasted.
Minions, the most economical blockbuster of the summer (it carries a cost of only $74 million - $14 million less than Pixels), sees another steep drop this weekend as the rarified air it is in already ($240 million prior to the start of the weekend) makes it hard to keep momentum going. This weekend, those cute little evildoers earned another $22.1 million, giving Minions a drop of 55%. That follows a drop last weekend of 57%, which came after the film's stunning opening frame at $115 million. Minions surpassed the domestic take of the original Despicable Me this weekend ($251.5 million), crossing the $250 million mark in only 16 days, the same amount of time it took Despicable Me 2. It joins Furious 7 and Jurassic World in Universal’s top 10 biggest films ever, with a gross to date of $261.6 million. Overseas, it is huge as well, has it is approaching the $500 million mark from international venues.
Trainwreck is fourth, and despite Thursday’s tragic shooting, it has one of the better holds in the top five. That's the perfect "FU" to the shooter. The Amy Schumer comedy earned another $17.3 million in its second frame, off a decent 43% compared to its $30.1 million debut. With the drop, Trainwreck is on pace to earn $90 or $100 million, but it will have to deal with Vacation next weekend, and Ricki and the Flash in the following session. Trainwreck cost only $35 million to make, so it will have Universal whistling again, thanks to the low budget, although it will also experience a historical footnote due to the events in Louisiana. Its total so far is $61.5 million.