Hollywood’s latest super hero offering took command of the box office as Hugh Jackman’s return to Adamantium action in The Wolverine resulted in a number one opening. The popular Marvel character took in an estimated $55M from 3,924 locations for a solid $14,016 average. The debut was almost identical to the $55.1M debut of the franchise’s last film X-Men: First Class which opened in June 2011. That summer’s Thor and Captain America films bowed to about $65M a piece.
It can be argued that Wolverine could have attracted a slightly larger audience given its more well-known character and marquee star. However, every action film this month has debuted at or below expectations following an endless number of action titles since the first week of May. The clawed hero did deliver the biggest live-action opening in over a month. The character’s last full feature was 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine which opened to $85.1M, but against zero competition. Bad will from that poorly-received film may have taken part of the fan base out of the equation this time around.
Set mostly in Japan, The Wolverine played to an expected crowd that skewed towards adult males. Studio research showed that 58% of the audience was male and 58% was 25 and older. Reviews were generally positive and paying moviegoers liked the PG-13 film giving it a good A- CinemaScore grade.
A massive global roll-out this weekend led to a big $86.1M international opening weekend from 101 territories for a powerful $141.1M worldwide launch. Most key markets opened this weekend though Japan will not release until September. The Wolverine cost a reported $120M to produce and had no expensive players outside of the lead actor.
Horror smash The Conjuring followed its spectacular opening with a terrific second weekend with an estimated $22.1M boosting the ten-day total to an incredible $83.9M. Off only 47%, the Warner Bros. release enjoyed an unusually low decline for a fright film and continues to benefit from strong audience buzz. A final domestic gross of about $140M is likely – among the best in history for a scary movie. Conjuring cost only $20M to produce.
Mega-toon Despicable Me 2 eased just 36% in its fourth round and cracked the triple-century mark with an estimated $16M for a cume to date of $306.4M for Universal. Gru’s audience love and longevity has taken some of the speed out of rival animated offering Turbo which nonetheless held up well in its sophomore lap with an estimated $13.3M, off just 38%. With $55.8M in 12 days, Fox’s final domestic total might end in the $90-100M range. Kid competition will ramp up starting this Wednesday with Smurfs 2.
Sequels for grown ups followed. Adam Sandler’s Grown Ups 2 fell 42% to an estimated $11.5M for Sony putting the total at $101.7M – the bankable star’s 14th $100M+ domestic grosser. Lionsgate saw its action pic Red 2 take in an estimated $9.4M, down 48%, resulting in a $35.1M sum.
Hoping to reach nine-digit territory, the sci-fi monster jam Pacific Rim collected an estimated $7.5M, down 53%, giving Warner Bros. $84M thus far on its way to $100M.
Leggy cop comedy The Heat dipped only 26% to an estimated $6.9M raising the total to $141.2M for Fox. Universal’s R.I.P.D., Hollywood’s umpteenth action offering this summer, fell apart in its second weekend with an estimated $5.9M falling 54%. The pricey flop has banked a miserable $24.4M and should end with a dismal $35-40M, one of the most memorable failures of this year.
Indie hit Fruitvale Station expanded nationwide and jumped into the top ten with a decent, but not spectacular showing. The Weinstein Co. release about the final day in the life of a young unarmed man shot and killed by the police grossed an estimated $4.7M from 1,064 locations for a mediocre $4,377 average. Total stands at $6.3M. Based on a true story, the urban drama attracted publicity for its similaritires to the killing of Trayvon Martin which has been a major news story over the last two years. But as with mainstream films, indie pics with dark and serious tones can often struggle to find a large audience in the summer when people crave lighter, more upbeat fare.
Making a major splash on the specialty scene was Woody Allen with his latest comic creation, Blue Jasmine starring Cate Blanchett, which grossed an estimated $613,000 from only six theaters for a jaw-dropping $102,167 average per site. Sony Classics will continue to roll out the well-reviewed film in the weeks ahead as the actress attracts Oscar buzz.
Opening to soft results was the indie comedy The To-Do List with an estimated $1.5M from 591 locations for a weak $2,597 average. The CBS Films release stars Aubrey Plaza as a high school nerd trying to lose her virginity.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $152.3M which was up 23% from last year when The Dark Knight Rises remained at number one with $62.1M; but off 9% from 2011 when Cowboys & Aliens opened in the top spot with $36.4M.