July 7, 2019
The rich got richer over the extended July 4 holiday weekend, led by Sony’s “Spider-Man: Far from Home,” which scored a terrific $185 million in six days. “Toy Story 4” (Disney) continued strong, totaling $300 million in 17 days. That means two out of four key franchise summer films have come through.
In the mix and graded on a different scale is Ari Aster’s smart horror entry “Midsommar” (A24), which yielded a divided response but benefited from a well-supported wide initial release. It should wind up a success.
Since “Avengers: Endgame” launched the expanded summer season, grosses are now equal to the same period in 2018. This does not mean that are no reasons for concern. The reality, of course, is that the year is still down a little under 9%. That’s better than the 10% deficit a week ago. But the shortfall remains at around $550 million. It will be whittled down in upcoming weeks, but happy days are not here again.
There are some signs of success, with numbers that argue for good things happening. But the movie world parallels the overall economy: the beneficiaries are uneven, with more of the bounty going to fewer folks. If that’s your definition of a good thing, then forget the grim first third of the year results and things are…OK. But if one looks at trends, then fewer players are reaping box-office rewards.
For the record, the three-day weekend was down in preliminary figures about $4 million from last year. However, the early week opening of “Far from Home” caused a spike not reflected in those numbers over 2018 and accounts for the improved overall net results for the annual comparison.
Marvel leads the winners. “Far from Home,” aided by the overlapping holiday and ideal post-4th weekend placement this year, posted a better first six days than “Homecoming” in 2017. It is not, however, best for the series. “Spider-Man 3” in 2007, with an early May debut, remains best in the series at (an adjusted) $231 million.
The uptick from two years back is terrific news for Sony, the franchise, and Marvel. Credit “Avengers: Endgame” for not only keeping the momentum going, but also the crossover use of key characters whose stories continue here despite the split between rival studios. The bounty is worldwide. With many countries opening earlier than domestic, and only Italy among the top markets yet to open, the combined number is already $580 million. As “Homecoming” topped out at $880 million, this has a real shot at topping that total.
These numbers along with “Toy Story 4” are good news. But also expected–had these not hewed close to this level, panic might have set in. Their success clearly is welcome, but this is not what is going to solve ongoing issues.
How to assess Ari Aster’s second outing, again with A24, after “Hereditary”? With his sophomore film, A24 continued the trend toward swiftly going wide with films that might have once considered better suited for a slow build.
The almost $11 million for five days is just decent. The in-house budget (not an acquisition) is reported to have been around $8 million. A24 sold rights to other countries, where “Hereditary” grossed $35 million. Though not reported, the sales almost certainly put this into profit before it opened.
The key next question is marketing costs. Amazon’s “Late Night” reportedly had a high $33 million total, which put it into a deep hole. A24 has developed a reputation for targeting their audiences (in this case younger and easily reached by cheaper digital and social media). Aster is paralleling Jordan Poole as a budding genre talent, with “Hereditary” gaining him a core following. So the ad costs were diminished.
The theatrical future five days in looks positive. Despite Friday’s semi-holiday status, Saturday showed an uptick in gross. That defies its (expected) C+ Cinemascore as well as a close to 150-minute running time, unconventional storytelling, Swedish setting, and lack of festival buildup. Figure “Midsommar” box office to end up close to $25 million. And then watch out for its life beyond theaters, where heightened awareness will boost its potential on other platforms.
Originality sells. Danny Boyle’s Beatles-themed romantic comedy “Yesterday” (Universal) fell only 37% its second weekend, with $37 million total in 10 days and a potential of as much as $70 million domestic. It follows “Rocketman” with similar appeal to older audiences. But in a period where comedies, particularly of the romantic kind, have fallen flat, that an off-beat original one is gaining traction in some ways is as encouraging as news of the great “Far from Home” results.
With a reported budget of $26 million, “Yesterday” falls in the mid-range that has been falling flat these days. Anything that encourages the imagination seen here, especially in the heart of summer, is positive news.
Disney might not be #1 this holiday (even though Marvel’s Kevin Feige assisted the top title), but the studio’s box-office domination remains impressive. Their two most recent releases each total over $300 million domestic. “Toy Story 4” passed that mark (it’s at $304 million), lagging behind the third 2010 installment by a small margin. But it hits its mark.
“Aladdin” shows how powerful Disney is with theater owners. Now totaling over $320 million, the live-action remake is down only 25% –on its seventh weekend–still at #5. It’s fourth all-time among the Disney live-action makeovers of their animated hits, with its great hold likely to get it close in adjusted numbers to “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Jungle Book.” It looks to be a huge career reinforcement for Will Smith, bringing him back to his heyday 20 years ago –this in adjusted terms is his third biggest hit, behind “Independence Day” and “Men in Black.”
“Rocketman” (Paramount) was the best of the rest of the Top Ten holdovers, down 29% and now at nearly $90 million. With this level of hold, it still has a chance to top out close to $100 million. Same weekend opener “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” (Warner Bros.), with four times the budget and a much bigger foreign take, will fall a bit under $110 million. Score another win for team original.
The second weekend of “Annabelle Comes Home” (Warner Bros.) dropped 51%. It still for the three days topped “Midsommar,” but with the advantage of a strong franchise base. This has been a disappointment for what has been a strong horror series.
“The Secret Life of Pets 2” (Universal) still has legs with only a 35% drop. “Men in Black: International” (Sony) and the gimmicky added footage late dates of “Avengers: Endgame” (Disney) dropped in the 40-50% range.
The Top Ten
1. Spider-Man: Far from Home (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 69; Est. budget: $160 million
$93,600,000 in 4,634 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $20,199; Cumulative: $185,056,000
2. Toy Story 4 (Disney) Week 3; last weekend #1
$34,300,000 (-42%) in 4,540 theaters (-35); PTA: $7,555; Cumulative: $306,588,000
3. Yesterday (Universal) Week 2; last weekend #3
$10,750,000 (-37%) in 2,614 theaters (+11); PTA: $4,112; Cumulative: $36,883,000
4. Annabelle Comes Home (Warner Bros.) Week 2; last weekend #2
$9,750,000 (-52%) in 3,613 theaters (no change); PTA: $2,699; Cumulative: $50,157,000
5. Aladdin (Disney) Week 7; last weekend #4
$7,600,000 (-25%) in 2,758 theaters (-477); PTA: $2,756; Cumulative: $320,790,000
6. Midsommar (A24) NEW – Cinemascore: C+; Metacritic: 73; Est. budget: $9 million
$6,562,000 in 2,707 theaters; PTA: $2,424; Cumulative: $10,902,000
7. The Secret Life of Pets 2 (Universal) Week 5; last weekend #5
$4,760,000 (-35%) in 2,846 theaters (-507); PTA: $1,673; Cumulative: $140,743,000
8. Men in Black: International (Sony) Week 4; last weekend #6
$3,635,000 (-46%) in 2,716 theaters (-947); PTA: $1,338; Cumulative: $71,990,000
9. Avengers: Endgame (Disney) Week 11; last weekend #7
$3,100,000 (-49%) in 1,985 theaters (-40); PTA: $1,562; Cumulative: $847,863,000
10. Rocketman (Paramount) Week 6; last weekend #9
$2,775,000 (-29%) in 1,409 theaters (-594); PTA: $1,969; Cumulative: $89,170,000
Source: IndieWire film