Despicable Decent, Baby Driver Revs It Up
By John Hamann
July 2, 2017
The Despicable Me series now looks a bit like Shrek. That franchise started with $42.3 million, rose to $108 million with the second film, and then the third film opened to $121.6 million. The comparison works if we compare Shrek the Third to Minions, and Shrek Forever After to Despicable Me 3. Forever After dropped sharply to $70.8 million, losing $50 million between the third and fourth films, and film quality might have been to blame. The third Shrek film fell sharply from the second at Rotten Tomatoes (88% for both Shrek and Shrek 2, Shrek the Third was 41% fresh), and that quality did not recover enough with the fourth film (58% fresh). The Shrek Cinemascores show the same problem, as Shrek the Third dropped two spots from the A's the first two films received, and the franchise couldn't recover. Despicable Me 3 earned a 62% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, well down from the first two Despicables at 81% and 73%, but was up from the 56% rating that Minions received. On the Cinemascore front, the Despicable franchise has always had A's and A-'s, and this one is no different, recording an A-.
Overseas, Despicable Me 3 has been out in a few markets prior to this weekend, and expanded further this frame. The overseas total has already hit $116.9 million, as it will seek to match the second film's $600 million international total. If it can get there, DM3 will look to best Minions $823 million international total. For Universal and Illumination, cost control continues to serve this franchise. Despicable Me 3 was made for only $75 million, half of the cost of the last two Shrek films, which came out in 2007 and 2010 at a cost of $160 million and $165 million respectively. Should the overseas result prove similar to Despicable Me 2, there should be another $1 billion in earnings from the one picture. Keep in mind that for about the cost Disney paid to make Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ($300 million plus, BEFORE marketing), Universal and Illumination have put out four films, and if the fourth earns a billion, the running total will be $3.7 billion – and those are just the theatrical revenues. Forget the massive merchandise sales.
Second is Baby Driver, Edgar Wright's latest and most critic-friendly film to date as Shaun of the Dead's 92% fresh rating is forced to second. Baby Driver, which has an eclectic cast that includes Ansel Engort (The Fault In Our Stars), Kevin Spacey, Jon Bernthal (Shane from The Walking Dead), Jamie Foxx, Lily James (Cinderella), and Jon Hamm, combines music and fantastic car chase scenes to potentially become the must-see of the summer. Sony chose to give Baby Driver a heads start against the competition, opening the film on Wednesday. The Tuesday preview alone told us Baby Driver was catching on, as it earned $2.1 million on a lonely Tuesday, which pushed the Wednesday up to a very strong $5.7 million. The Thursday came in at $3.3 million, not far off the standalone Wednesday, which would have been $3.6 million without the previews. Baby Driver had more than $9 million in the tank before it got to its opening Friday, all against a tight budget of only $34 million.
The Friday was reported at $6 million, which guaranteed a mid-$20 million five-day opening, a big success for a flick like this. Often these types of films have a ton of buzz heading into release, but still fizzle at the box office. The biggest weekend for Quentin Tarantino's Hateful Eight was a mere $15.7 million despite a year's worth of buzz, and Edgar Wright's own Scott Pilgrim vs The World was a flavor of the week (for a solid month), yet it opened to only $10.6 million in 2010. Given the Friday, Baby Driver was not only going to be the biggest opener of Wright's career, it was going to be in the mix with his biggest earners, as Scott Pilgrim was the biggest to date at only $31 million. The question was whether Baby Driver would be front-loaded due to the critical word and buzz surrounding it. The Saturday number was reported at $7.7 million, and the three-day at $21 million, which meant a $30 million five-day total for Baby Driver and a huge leap forward for Edgar Wright.