July 2019 Box Office Recap

By Steven Slater

August 19, 2019

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Konnichiwa BOPers! Apologies for missing the recap for June, but I’ll have a brief summary of that month at the end of this article. Now, on to July, the pinnacle of the summer season! Ironically, this past month had the fewest wide releases I can recall within a given month, so the box office moolah all went to just a few new properties as well as some lukewarm leftovers. You can probably guess which studio absorbed the lion’s share of profits, but I won’t spoil the ending. Each weekend had an interesting story to tell, and unlike a lot of movies this year, just about every film opening this July did as well or better than expected.

1)The Lion King (2019)

Opening Weekend:$191.8 M
Monthly Total:$385.1 M

Dumbo came and went with a wheeze. Aladdin opened tepidly, yet held on strong. This month all eyes were on the big live-action version of a Disney classic, which in modern times is defined as CGI that looks like live action. In the end, The Lion King met sky high expectations, as it opened huge and has shown continued staying power. With the largest opening weekend of all Disney’s reimagined properties, beating Beauty and the Beast’s $174 million bow, Lion King also has the eighth largest opening of all time, and the second largest of 2019. The 60% drop in weekend two is a little worrying, but king lion should still be able to reach around $500 million domestic, and perhaps three times that amount worldwide. In fact, counting this as an animated title, it could beat Frozen’s mark as the highest grossing international animated release, set at $875 million in 2013. It will not beat Incredibles 2’s domestic mark, although being the biggest film of the year behind Avengers is a stellar feat. There were questions going in, once the split reviews began setting off warning bells, but just like Aladdin the draw of nostalgia is too deep to be beaten by something as banal as quality. I wonder if the remake of Lion King 2 will be straight to video.

2)Spider-Man: Far from Home

Opening Weekend:$92.6 M
Monthly Total:$351 M

Spider-Man broke all the rules, and decided he was going to open on a Tuesday this month, mostly to gain as much momentum as possible from the 4th of July holiday. While depreciating the opening weekend number, the fact is that this outing of the webslinger should become his second largest domestic earner, behind only the original-original Spider-man way back in 2002. This is actually great news, as every time Spider-Man has debuted with a new leading man, the sequels trend downward with regards to box office. For the first time that trend has reversed, as Far from Home is outpacing Homecoming by about 15%. This is doubly surprising since a Spider-Man film technically came out a few short months ago, yet double dipping did not affect this Marvel superhero as it has other franchises. Give webby about $375 domestic and over a billion and change worldwide, and Tom Holland’s future looks good.

3)Toy Story 4

Monthly Total:$162.8 M
Running Total:$401.5 M

Now that we got that pesky Sony film out of the way, let’s get back to the bread and butter. Nothing tastes better than a meal from Disney, Pixar, Buzz and Woody. Perhaps surprising, then, is the fact that Toy Story 4 is not doing any better than Toy Story 3, ending a streak where each successive sequel was reaching higher than the last. The reviews were stellar, the schedule was relatively open, and Pixar’s pedigree was on fire after The Incredibles 2’s smashing success. Maybe a story about toys come to life is a little quaint, if refreshing. Either way, the fourth outing of this cowboy remains in the top tier of animation titles, having Pixar’s third highest opening weekend, and it will soon surpass the domestic total of Toy Story 3. It may have a little longer to surpass number 3’s worldwide total of $1.07 billion. This means adjusting for inflation fewer people are seeing this fourth outing, so maybe this is the swan song.

4)Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Opening Weekend:$41.1 M
Monthly Total:$55.3 M

When you think box office, you don’t necessarily think of Quentin. When you imagine big budget original filmmaking, Tarantino is not the first name to pop into your head. Yet despite what our brains tell us, Tarantino and Christopher Nolan have more in common than you think. They are filmmakers telling original stories with nine figure budgets, and worldwide grosses in the hundreds of millions. Q’s tenth feature will likely achieve these lofty aims as well, seeing as it has achieved his largest opening weekend, and is holding about as well as Inglourious Basterds. That movie also opened in late summer, and earned $120 million domestic and over $300 worldwide. I expect Once will hit those marks almost exactly, or maybe a few dollars more. This is Tarantino’s first film not to be distributed by Harvey Weinstein, and with Sony he’s off to a good start.

5)Yesterday

Monthly Total:$48 M
Running Total:$65 M

Outside of his surprise hit Slumdog Millionaire, which was nearly released straight to video, Danny Boyle is not a very successful filmmaker, at least where box office is concerned. Though his stamp on cinema is quite bold, most of his films struggle to emerge from the morass. Yesterday has easily become his second largest film, able to take a broadly appealing premise and spin something not quite golden from it. I suppose this qualifies as counter-programming during the summer, earning a tidy sum with small weekend drops that are probably accountable to older audiences. This has earned Yesterday a big profit, as the budget was fairly small at around $26 million. Expect it to have decent legs and get just over $75 million over the next few weeks.

6)Aladdin (2019)

Monthly Total:$41.3 M
Running Total:$347.9 M

Abracadabra, LET HER RIP!!! Oh wait, *poof*, wrong Genie, wait, *poof*, wrong Genie, wait *poof*, there it is! Blue Will Smith! I guess I never have had a friend like that. Somehow I want a movie where Robin William’s Genie is pestering Will Smith’s Genie with crap for two hours. I just cannot help it, I see Will Smith as the straight man in a movie, and the role of Genie is the opposite of that. Yet the curse of Dumbo was nowhere to be seen, and Aladdin has actually had the best legs of the summer. Consider the fact that in week six Aladdin was earning more than Avengers: Endgame! Perhaps audiences were staying away before word of mouth spread, and then eventually everyone snuck in to see it. Parlaying a meager $91 million opening, Aladdin has managed to zoom past $300 million and is approaching a 4.0 multiplier, becoming the sixth biggest film of the year. Much like Lion King, this reimagining has managed to outgross the original (albeit not adjusted for inflation), showing that as long as the property is from the early 1990’s, Disney has the Midas touch. With a great domestic showing and over a billion worldwide, this is yet another massive hit for Bob Iger and company.

7)Annabelle Comes Home

Monthly Total:$39.4 M
Running Total:$70.5 M

Warner Bros. brought home the Annabelle bacon, with their first summer title since Pikachu and Godzilla expended the multiplexes of their appetite for Japanese icons. The sixth film of the six year Conjuring franchise, the unfortunate news is that this outing had the lowest opening by far, and will have the lowest domestic total as well. The only reason it scored so high on the list this month is simply due to the lack of new titles. While this branch is dying, The Conjuring and The Nun are still apparently viable, and new sequels of those will be arriving in the coming years. Annabelle, however, has come home to roost.

8)Crawl

Opening Weekend:$12 M
Monthly Total:$33.5 M

I feel like in these modern times, Crawl would have done better to appear on Netflix for late-night watching at home, maybe during a bad storm. As it is, Sam Raimi is getting back to his roots with B-movie horror, producing a film where alligators serve as the predator dining on man flesh. Already earning a profit off it’s $13.5 million budget, Crawl did exactly what it wanted to do. This is also Paramount’s first release since Rocketman, so they really needed something to fill in their coffers. Expect Crawl to...limp it’s way to about $40 million.

9)Midsommar

Opening Weekend:$6.6 M
Monthly Total:$24.7 M

Every summer has its counter-programming, and this July it’s Midsommar. A film from the director of Hereditary, Ari Aster has found his shtick with folksy horror. Midsommar unfortunately had about half the opening and gross of his first flick, but then again $25 million is pretty good for a little horror film set in Sweden. Given that the critical response has been higher than the audience’s for both his films, expect Aster’s films to become cult favorites. Expect around $26 million total, as it has flamed out pretty quickly, and word of mouth to lead to some cheap DVD sales.




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10)The Secret Life of Pets 2

Monthly Total:$23 M
Running Total:$154.5 M

Toy Story: toys come to life when you’re not looking. Secret Life of Pets: pets come to, uh, more life when you’re not looking. I think there are a few too many films about what’s going on behind my back in theaters this month, thank you very much! Pets 2, long story short, is doing much worse than the original. With an opening less than half of the original, it will finish far short of number one’s amazing $368 million. Somehow international audiences also got wind, as it will be lucky to earn half the original’s haul of $875 million from 2016. Believe it or not, that film is Illumination’s biggest hit, by about $300,000. Let us hope, given their acquisition of Dreamworks Animation, that they do not follow the same route. Dreamworks had a heyday for about a decade, then their box office gradually declined. Can Minions 2 save the day?

Just outside the top ten are Stuber with $21.1 million, Avengers: Endgame finally surpassing Avatar with $15.1 million, Men in Black International with $13.8 million, Rocketman with $11 million, and John Wick 3 with $8.5 million. Even with those fifteen titles, the list only includes six films that opened wide during July. To squeeze out ten openers, add the 30th Anniversary of Kiki’s Delivery Service, the 40th Anniversary of The Muppet Movie, a huge title I will not type, and Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story. Okay, that huge title is: Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?: Arrow of the Orion. I have no idea, all I know is those titles were all part of Fathom Events, which keeps about 700 theaters a week screening something different. All told, this July saw earnings of $1.288 billion, which is about average for the past decade. The Lion King also happened to earn more money than any other film has during the month of July (limited to earnings only accrued within the month). Disney has also won the crown for each of the five previous months, which is a pretty remarkable winning streak considering they really only released six films this year (plus Penguins).

At this, the close of the official summer season, something striking is apparent. The changing of the guard appears to be complete. The only truly large blockbuster films from this summer were from Disney, or Sony’s Spider-Man (kind of co-owned by Disney). Universal only had one big summer movie, The Secret Life of Pets 2, and it fared far worse than the original. Warner Bros. had Detective Pikachu, which may very well be the greatest video game film ever made, and yet...it earned less than Lion King’s opening weekend, and Godzilla flamed out pretty quickly. Paramount’s entry for the summer was the decidedly non-summer film Rocketman, which luckily had great reviews to propel it to minor box office glory. Fox, of course, is out of the picture. Have the big studios all but given up on the major tent pole in the summer? Is it simply no longer worth the expense and risk, when everyone assumes the oxygen will be sucked out by Disney? Or do old-school tentpoles look weak these days, as they have simply gone out of fashion. Perhaps Godzilla or Men in Black International would have done much better ten years ago. Perhaps Dark Phoenix would have stood out more, without a dozen other superhero films buffeting it around. The conclusion is the same either way; every studio other than Disney seems to be flailing and unable to figure out how to earn money in the current movie climate. Perhaps that is a little hyperbolic, and certainly I do not foresee Warner Bros. or Universal closing up shop anytime soon, but the sea change that has been forecast for a while seems to have occurred. The domestic numbers bear it out, even if some titles are saved by international grosses. Disney has about a 38% market share, followed by Universal, WB and Sony barely staying in double digits, with a combined share of about 36%. Not that things cannot change, as Universal had a 21% market share in 2015, and Paramount had 19% in 2011. In the United States, the only movies earning over $200 million are Disney films and Spider-Man. Worldwide, those are the only films earning over $1 billion. After those blockbusters, the competition is not even close. To see what the future holds, look to the success stories, I say. Disney, comic book films, and producers like Jason Blum. There will always be a Nolan or Tarantino to spice things up, but by and large the story in the multiplex has simplified.

Hey, what about June? Here’s how that month stacked up:

1)Toy Story 4

Opening Weekend:$120.9 M
Monthly Total:$238.7 M

2)Aladdin (2019)

Monthly Total:$152.1 M
Running Total:$306.6 M

3)The Secret Life of Pets 2

Opening Weekend:$46.7 M
Monthly Total:$131.4 M

4)Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Monthly Total:$87.2 M
Running Total:$106.7 M

5)Rocketman

Monthly Total:$75.1 M
Running Total:$84.2 M

6)Men in Black International

Opening Weekend:$30 M
Monthly Total:$65.2 M

7)Dark Phoenix

Opening Weekend:$32.8 M
Monthly Total:$63.7 M

8)John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

Monthly Total:$43.8 M
Running Total:$161.4 M

9)Ma

Monthly Total:$37.5 M
Running Total:$44.8 M

10)Avengers: Endgame

Monthly Total:$32.1 M
Running Total:$841.9 M


     


 
 

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