This weekend gave us a glint of the summer blockbusters to come, if only just that. It’s the first Earth Day weekend in many years not to see the release of a new DisneyNature documentary, and there’s a touch of irony in the only mainstream film releasing this weekend takes place on an Earth ruined by war, natural disasters, and nuclear catastrophe, the ultimate trifecta of destructions. It gave audiences plenty opportunities to catch up with more pleasant fare from past weeks. You’ll notice The Croods, 42, and Oz the Great and Powerful all held nicely with less than 40% drops, indicating a consistent health of family friendly options as we head into a long stretch empty of kid-pleasing fare, until Epic arrives Memorial Day weekend.
The Place Beyond the Pines, too, held focus (and Focus Features) in the top ten, though it’s wider expansion didn’t turn as many heads as some hoped. That said, it’s been an outstanding box office presence in the indie landscape this spring. Just burgeoning on the limited release circuit, meanwhile, is Francois Ozon’s In the House, which you may soon notice I’m a bit obsessed with. It appears that wise audiences reciprocate, giving the film a healthy $11,748 per theater average. It may be dreaming too big to expect audiences to take to this the way they did to the much more publicized Amour, but there’s always time for wishful thinking.
One’s got to be a little worried about Tom Cruise at this point. A decade back and he was an exciting onscreen presence with ample box office draw, so far as being the highest paid actor in the business. Then he became an exciting off-screen presence, and perhaps too exciting for some. Now past the age of 50, though clearly not looking it, the bright star of his more youthful days might be on the wane. Bare in mind, Oblivion represents his highest opening weekend since Mission: Impossible III, but it’s a far cry from his glory days. Both his vehicles last year, Jack Reacher and Rock of Ages, opened well under $20 million, and mild audience reaction to Oblivion doesn’t bode well for ongoing business. Cruise’s next film, sci-fi actioner All You Need Is Kill (That’s a nurturing title to hear after this week, isn’t it?), doesn’t come out till March of next year, but it’s already foreboding of an actor stuck in action hero mode, desperately in need of a change. He’s a winner this weekend, but for how much longer?
I’m honestly not entirely sure where this mini-hits come from. Sure, they rarely struggle their way into the top ten, but debuting over $1 million in under 400 screens is often something of a slight anomaly, especially for films we haven’t really heard much about. Get through the first few words of each film’s synopsis, though, and you’ll see where the interest comes from. Filly Brown ($1.3 million): “A promising hip-hop rhymer from Los Angeles…”. Home Run ($1.6 million): “A pro ball player with a substance abuse problem…”. Beyond that the descriptions go blurry, in that I had no interest in even continuing on reading about the films, but you see what I’m getting at. Inspirational stories win out, while Rob Zombie horror film The Lords of Salem opens to just $.6 million.
So kids, what have we learned about horror films? That they’re bad? No, that’s not it. That should be common knowledge by now, since we haven’t gotten a really good, scary h0rror film from the mainstream for a while now. No, what we’ve learned is that they’ll do really well the first weekend, but after that nobody cares about them anymore. Evil Dead and Scary Movie 5, in particular, come from franchises that have long since run their course, so while there’s some sustained interest in the former – die-hard fans will persevere, as always – the latter is quickly becoming a tired relic, even in the mainstream mind. Some franchises were meant to die, so others could find room to live. On that note, both The Croods and Pitch Perfect have been given the go-ahead for sequels. Funny enough, I’m not cynical about either.
Box Office History
As stated above, this weekend offered less options for moviegoers than last year. After four weekends of The Hunger Games dominating the Top 10, the colossal franchise starter was finally supplanted by… Think Like a Man? It still startles me that a film with that title succeeded as well as it did, and for the life of me, I cannot remember what that film was about. It worries me that filmmakers can so easily tap into the black community by simply filling their films with black actors. Perhaps people just assumed it was from Tyler Perry? I almost did. In any case, the film nearly tripled it’s $12 million budget in it’s first weekend. By the end of it’s run, it reached just above $90 million. A sequel is on the way, obviously.
It wasn’t the only film to profit in that frame last year, with Zac Efron romance The Lucky One filling the Nicholas Sparks quota with a $20+ million debut, later going on to $60 million. Disneynature also charmed Earth Day audiences with their adorable little movie about (and titled) Chimpanzee, garnering the brand it’s highest opening gross to date with $10.7 million. Next year brings them back into the fold with Bears, because… bears can be cute, right? This year proved far less profitable than the last, and it goes to show that multiple options can help spread the wealth for any given weekend.
Box Office Top 10 – April 19-21, 2013
Weekend Results via BoxOffice.com
1. Oblivion (1st Weekend: $38.1 million)
2. 42 (2nd Weekend: $18 million | Total: $54 million)
3. The Croods (5th Weekend: $9.5 million | Total: $154.9 million)
4. Scary Movie 5 (2nd Weekend: $6.3 million | Total: $22.9 million)
5. G.I. Joe: Retaliation (4th Weekend: $5.7 million | Total: $111.1 million)
6. The Place Beyond the Pines (4th Weekend: $4.8 million | Total: $11.5 million)
7. Olympus Has Fallen (5th Weekend: $4.3 million | Total: $88.6 million)
8. Evil Dead (3rd Weekend: $4.1 million | Total: 48.4 million)
9. Jurassic Park 3D (3rd Weekend: $4 million | $38.2 million)
10. Oz the Great and Powerful (7th Weekend: $3 million | $223.7 million)