5 Ways to Prep - Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
By George Rose
June 21, 2018
Before we start talking about Jurassic World 2, let’s talk about the pink elephant in the room. By now we all now know Incredibles 2 crushed animated records last weekend with a $182 million debut and is big screen entertainment at its finest, but did you know A Wrinkle in Time jumped up the charts with almost $1.7 million in 11th place? Two weeks ago (June 8-10) it was 30th with $101,661 in its 14th week of release, totaling $98,141,968. This was even after the June 5 DVD release date, which suggested it’s run in theaters was basically over. So what happened?
This past weekend (June 15-17), while Incredibles 2 was distracting the world breaking records, nobody seemed to notice Wrinkle work it’s way back up to 11th on the chart with just under $1.7 million, bringing its new total to $99,906,924. It will now reach $100 million by the time this article is released. Oddly enough, practices like this aren’t new. We’ve seen Disney take an older film that may still be in theaters and tag it onto a new release as a “double feature” to help siphon some funds to the dying film in need. It happening doesn’t shock me; nobody talking about it shocks me. For all we know Disney held a gun to John Lasseter’s head and demanded he dump $1.7 million into a garbage bag inside a Wrinkle theater. I wouldn’t put it past them.
Technically, the move makes sense. How can Hollywood honor Ava DuVernay as history’s first black female director given a $100 million budget and then not help her with success? They can’t and they shouldn’t. Now DuVernay goes from being the first black woman with blockbuster budget to being the first black woman with a $100 million “hit”. History needed this to happen so we don’t go back to the Stone Age of Cinema. This new milestone is to help keep progress moving forward and board meeting members happy, but Disney basically pulled an Ocean’s 8 by conning within a con. You thought you watched Incredibles 2 break records but, really, Wrinkle was quietly sneaking off with some of that cash to make its own mark on history.
I mention these facts for two main reasons. First of all, I’ve never met a pink elephant I didn’t love pushing into oncoming traffic. Disney has an unprecedented run of monster blockbusters with Marvel, and most of Pixar and Star Wars. Power that big cannot go unchecked. I’m not saying they shouldn’t help important films reach important milestones; they just shouldn’t do it in the shadows. Full disclosure, you know? In that vein, my second purpose arrives. With Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom we are about to enter a weekend of news coverage that is sure to tell you what Universal wants you to hear, not necessarily what you have the right to know. So, here we go, down the rabbit hole into preparation for the release of Jurassic World 2.
#1) JURASSIC WORLD (2015)
Fallen Kingdom marks the fifth film in the Jurassic franchise that started 25 years ago. Though the events of the original trilogy are briefly mentioned in Jurassic World, it is essentially a reboot/relaunch of a legendary franchise and the world has seemingly changed enough to warrant an update. Two decades was deemed enough time to learn from prior mistakes with regards to dinosaur creation and containment. The park is bigger, shinier and more fan friendly. There are three times as many dinos as before so the entire world is interested in attending, despite prior mishaps. There’s obviously no way history can repeat itself, right?
Hollywood seldom learns its lesson and the movie characters they create don’t either. A new park is made, dinos escape, people die. Chris Pratt is an animal lover, Bryce Dallas Howard is an uptight boss lady and boatloads of other pre-#MeToo moments litter the film with unnecessary sexism and sexual harassment. But, look, dinosaurs!!! In all honestly, I did look and I mean to look again with Fallen Kingdom. Outside of Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars, there’s little big screen entertainment worth the price of admission and even a bad Jurassic Park/World film should be seen in the theater. Not only do we need to view Jurassic World before Fallen Kingdom to help with continuity, but we need the numbers to help us compare the sequel: $209 million debut, $652 million domestic, $1.67 billion worldwide. Now, let’s look at some comps.
#2) JURASSIC PARK (1993) VS THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK (1997)
Jurassic World was just like Jurassic Park; dinos are created, then put in a park, then escape a park, then they eat the people, then there’s lots of action. Jurassic Park broke all sorts of records and World did the same. Then came sequels. Lost World and Fallen Kingdom seem similar in that they are darker than their predecessor, which may deter the families with young kids that made the first in each series successful. Early reviews aren’t helping either. In Lost World, there was a second island of dinos that people wanted to capture which later turns into dinos destroying the mainland. In Fallen Kingdom, a volcano is about to blow on the island so people try to get the dinos off which then turns into dinos destroying the mainland. Soooo World was just like Park, and now Fallen Kingdom is just like Lost World. Wash, rinse, repeat history.
If that’s the case, let’s look at some numbers. First of all, opening weekend habits were different in the 1990’s. Movies were able to have final totals that were several times larger than the opening weekend. Nowadays, it’s hard enough for movies to earn three times their opening weekend. Also, international audiences didn’t join the club until after the millennium so those numbers are no good. Let’s look at the domestic totals. Jurassic Park earned $357 million (before re-releases) and Lost World earned $229 million. No, we’re not going to dive into the inflation game right now as a simple percentage is all I need. Despite opening higher, Lost World earned 35% less than Jurassic Park. If the same holds true for the Jurassic World franchise then Fallen Kingdom is set to earn about $418 million. Let’s look a bit deeper.
#3) AVENGERS (2012) VS AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015)
Avengers was the first film to break the $200 million opening weekend barrier with $207 million in 2012. That list now includes six titles. Of those six films, only two that opened above $200 million have had sequels so there are only two franchises that Jurassic can be compared to. It basically mirrored Avengers’ earnings so let’s start there. Avengers numbers: $207 million debut, $623 million domestic and $1.52 billion worldwide. Ultron’s numbers: $191 million debut (-7.7%), $459 million domestic (-26.3%) and $1.40 billion worldwide (-7.9%). Using those same changes, Fallen Kingdom should expect: $193 million debut, $480 million domestic and $1.54 billion worldwide. Sadly, though, early tracking suggests much smaller numbers than this.
#4) STAR WARS: FORCE AWAKENS (2015) VS STAR WARS: LAST JEDI (2017)
Star Wars: Force Awakens is the only other $200+ million debut feature that has had a sequel and it’s just like all the others. Fallen Kingdom, Lost World, Age of Ultron and Last Jedi are all darker entries in an otherwise family friendly global blockbuster series. There seems to be a pattern forming: the first film shocked with its success, then the sequel goes in a darker direction and loses about 25-35% domestically. Force Awakens numbers are: $248 million debut, $937 million domestic and $2.07 billion worldwide. Last Jedi’s numbers: $220 million debut (-11.3%), $620 million domestic (-33.8%) and $1.33 billion worldwide (-35.7%). If Fallen Kingdom falls the same we can expect a $185 million debut, $431 million domestic and $1.07 billion worldwide.
#5) DINOSAUR (2000) VS THE GOOD DINOSAUR (2015)
There are six movies that have earned more than $200 million domestically on their debut weekend and five of them belong to Disney via their Marvel and Star Wars brands. The other is Jurassic World. For all the movies that Disney has taking over the galaxy at any given time, there is one genre they simply can’t seem to get a handle on: dinosaurs. After Pixar helped launch computer animation in the late 90’s, Disney tried to make their own computer animated movie in 2000 called Dinosaur. Nobody cared and it earned a sad $138 million domestically. Fifteen years later and adding the Pixar brand didn’t help, as the studio had their worst performance ever when Good Dinosaur earned only $123 million despite 15 years of inflation.
Avengers and Star Wars both had sequels open about 10% less than their predecessor, so Fallen Kingdom should land somewhere between $185 - 200 million. It’s domestic total should be between 25% to 35% less, which means between $420 - 490 million. Then why, WHY, are some sites predicting an opening as “low” as $130 million? $150 million seems to be the average guess but, still, this is a much higher percent drop than other mega franchises. Should we be concerned? Disney hasn’t had a dino tale top $150 million and yet Fallen Kingdom will be a failure for opening to that level. If only there was a way the studio could spin this positively.
Oh wait, there is! In 2015, Jurassic World had a global debut of $524 million which was the biggest at the time. There was no way a darker film with worse reviews was going to to that number, not with Avengers and Star Wars sequels failing to top their predecessors. So what did Universal do instead? They opened internationally before domestically, allowing for almost $400 million to be added to the total before stateside even sees a dollar. Add a “soft” $130 million debut to that number plus another $100 million next weekend from international audiences, and you have Fallen Kingdoms “opening weekend” bringing in $130 million here and almost $650 million worldwide. That’s how you make lemonade from lemon covered dino crap!
I hope it’s a hit and I hope we get another. We need films outside the Disney brand to bring in the dough or Hollywood will crumble. I just wish full disclosure was a given. I wish Disney didn’t hide the fact - a fact we’ve been expecting for weeks - that they intend to get A Wrinkle in Time over the $100 million barrier. As of the end of last weekend, Black Panther is in 27th place on the charts where it earned $144,983 for a total of $699,613,337. Without help, steady declines have it ending below $700 million since it’s already on DVD. With the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp able to lend a helping hand with double features, we all know Panther is destined for that seventh century mark. Everybody needs help sometimes and that’s what friends are for, but honesty is key. I’m sure Fallen Kingdom will be huge but I’m also sure worldwide numbers next weekend will be the bigger deal. Right now, Hollywood can only afford good news.