Two Sequels and Warcraft Keep Box Office in its Funk
By John Hamann
June 12, 2016
A year ago, Jurassic World opened to $208.8 million. This year, two sequels and an expensive video game adaption can’t earn half that – combined.
Yes, the sequel onslaught continues this weekend, as 2016 has now had 16 sequels released, and since Batman v Superman opened in April, 11 more have been forced upon us. Of the 16 sequels, only seven have opened at number one, and really only one – Captain America: Civil War – has made a whole bunch of money for its studio. I don’t include Batman v Superman as a hit, as that cost $250 million to make and needs three times its budget worldwide to see a profit. So, at a worldwide gross of $873 million, Batman v Superman is more of a push than a profit. Same goes for Kung Fu Panda 3, which cost $145 million, so it needed $435 million worldwide to see a profit, and earned $518 million worldwide.
Profitability was more in reach for at least one of our sequels this weekend, as The Conjuring 2 cost a neat $40 million to make, so if it could match the original’s domestic gross of $137 million, it would be profitable; however, with a litany of sequels left to die on the side of the road, no one is safe. Speaking of not safe, Lionsgate releases our other sequel this weekend, Now You See Me 2, at a cost of $90 million, which means it needs $270 million worldwide to see a profit. The original earned $350 million worldwide, so it will have to see a repeat performance to earn a theatrical profit. Out last opener is not a sequel, but it’s not an original idea either. That film is Warcraft, based on the once popular video game. Warcraft cost a scary $160 million to make, which means a half-billion worldwide gross needs to be in play. Given that Warcraft earned $145 million through Saturday in China, Warcraft has an ally in the middle kingdom it is definitely going to need to depend on.
Our domestic number one this weekend (Warcraft is the worldwide winner) goes to the correctly budgeted horror sequel, The Conjuring 2, follow up to the July 2013 original that opened to a surprise $41 million and finished with $137.4 million domestically, along with $318 million worldwide. The original cost a mere $20 million to make, which means the sequel could earn nothing, and despite a doubled budget to $40 million, the original would still easily pay for everything. This is the only situation where a sequel should be greenlit – as there have been so many box office mistakes with sequels lately. Studios have spent too much on unnecessary sequels. The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Ninja Turtles 2 and Alice Through the Looking Glass had an average production budget of $140 million, so the $40 million cost for The Conjuring 2 is tiny in comparison.
The Conjuring 2 was hoping to find the lightning the original did, and while it performed similarly, there was less surprise this time, so less excitement with the result. The Conjuring 2 earned $3.4 million from previews, tying the first film, and if there was true excitement for the sequel, it certainly didn’t show up in the preview results. Viewers who are truly excited for a sequel will show up on Thursday, and in this case, it looks like the same people that showed up for the original, showed up for the sequel. The “Friday with Previews” amount came in at $16.4 million, about a half-million off from what the original did. So while it certainly wasn’t going to break out, signs were pointing to it matching the production budget with the first weekend domestic gross, something that hasn’t happened at the box office since April when Barbershop: The Next Cut opened to $20.2 million, against a $20 million budget.
Following the Friday number, it looked like the James Wan film was going to finish about $1.5 million behind that of the original, but it still had two days of play. Over the weekend, The Conjuring 2 earned $40.35 million, $1.55 million less than the original, which opened to $41.9 million. The original Conjuring opened on 2,903 screens, while the sequel had 3,343, so it had the opportunity to overtake the original, but failed. The opening hit the tracking number on the mark, and this should end up as a good earner for Warner Bros. and New Line, as the original was embraced by overseas audiences as well, to the tune of $180 million.