Two Sequels and Warcraft Keep Box Office in its Funk
By John Hamann
June 12, 2016
Like the original, The Conjuring 2 had quality going for it, as the returning cast includes Vera Farmiga, and Patrick Wilson, with director James Wan (Saw, Furious 7) returning as well. The pedigree of the sequel was strong, as the original had a RottenTomatoes score of 86%. This time around, it’s a bit softer at 75%, but still solid for horror. On the Cinemascore side, it was the same as the box office and the reviews – the same as the original. Both films earned a very solid for horror score of A-, which is rare for the genre. Legs should be similar this time around as well, with lots of profit out of this smartly made thriller.
Second is Warcraft, which is a flop on the domestic side and a hit on the international side (aka China). Once upon a time, Warcraft was a popular video game in North America, but that was a few years ago, as new, shinier things have come along since. It does still have a strong following in China, which is evident by the box office slaughter there, but results were always expected to be muted in the US. Warcraft got started on Thursday night, taking in $3.1 million in previews, which would be devastating for a normal $160 million release, but this one is more Transformers than normal. The “Friday with Preview” number was reported at $10.7 million, which was a little higher than expected, but meh nonetheless. The weekend number couldn’t be saved by the kids, and comes in at $24.36 million. Universal didn’t even go ultra-wide like they would with a normal $160 million release, so instead of 4,000+ screens, this one gets 3,400. A meager effort was made in North America, and it was a good strategy.
Overseas, Warcraft is a monster. Prior to its China release, Warcraft opened in 28 territories, and had already amassed $70 million in sales over two weekends, prior to the China/North America release. Through Saturday, Warcraft had earned $145 million in China alone over opening week, and had an overseas total of $261.7 million. So, despite the domestic take looking like it won’t come close to $100 million, overseas its going to bail this one out, as it needs $500 million for a theatrical profit. I’m not sure how, as reviews were hateful with a 27% fresh RottenTomatoes score (20% from “top critics”). Surprisingly, the Cinemascore was decent at B+, but that’s likely coming from a lot of 12-year-olds.
Third spot goes to Now You See Me 2; however, like Reagen Sulewski said in the Thursday Preview at BOP, this should have been called Now You Don’t, as the Now You See Me, Now You Don’t Blu-Ray boxset would have made a great Christmas present. That’s about all the sequel to the summer 2013 release is worth, as reviews were worse than the original (which weren’t great to begin with). Now You See Me 2 earned $23.03 million over opening weekend, not reaching the same height as the original’s $29.4 million opening. While I enjoyed the first film, I didn’t think it was sequel worthy, and this one is going to the same pile as many others have so far in 2016.
The original Now You See Me had a certain wow factor, which accounted for its almost $30 million opening, $117 million domestic finish, and $350 million worldwide gross, all against a budget of $75 million. This time around, reviews are worse at 36% fresh, but the Cinemascore is the same at a healthy A-. I still feel like the wow factor has left Now You See Me, and think the legs are going to be much worse than last time, at least in North America. That’s not going to help a film that cost $90 million to make - $15 million more than the original. Overseas box office will need to see at least a repeat performance of the original’s $234 million result for Now You See Me 2 to stay effective for Lionsgate.
Surprise, surprise – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows does a nice impression of a kamikaze pilot, diving severely from last weekend’s underwhelming $35 million opening. This weekend, the unneeded Megan Fox film earned only $14.8 million, giving it an embarrassing drop of 58%. The 2014 reboot fell a much better 57% in weekend two, so I wonder if Paramount has figured out that positioning this the weekend before Warcraft opens is a bad idea yet. The $135 million Turtles sequel (I am not typing it every time, they aren’t worth it) has now earned $61.04 million stateside, and had picked up $35 million overseas before the start of the weekend.