Weekend Box Office (May 23 - 26, 2014)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Wolverine and his mutant friends conquered the Memorial Day holiday weekend box office with the number one debut of X-Men: Days of Future Past which opened to $110.6M over the long Friday-to-Monday span, according to final studio figures, the second best showing ever for the seven-film franchise. The Fox release averaged a muscular $27,672 over four days from 3,996 locations and was helped by 3D and large format ticket prices.

Future collected $90.8M and averaged $22,729 over the three-day Friday-to-Sunday period which would make it the fifth best launch ever over this lucrative holiday frame. 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand debuted over the same session but was stronger with a $122.9M four-day debut, and was 2D only. But conditions were different. That film followed on the heels of two very well-liked X-Men movies and was seen as the closing chapter of a trilogy.

On the other hand, Future follows a series of films in the franchise which had mixed results creatively so some fans have lost interest in recent years. Plus Last Stand faced virtually no action competition on its opening weekend whereas the new mutant movie had last week's monster hit Godzilla to deal with. The new film uses a time travel plot to bring together characters from the original trilogy with those from the origin story First Class which was well-received in 2011.

But the road ahead looks promising for the new X-Men, as far as front-loaded tentpoles go. Reviews for the Bryan Singer-directed film were terrific and fans polled by CinemaScore gave the combo pack of old and new mutant casts a glowing A grade which is also what Captain America: The Winter Soldier earned in April. Plus next weekend sees no new action movies of the same type opening. Studio research showed that males made up 56% of the crowd which was encouraging as super hero films usually witness gender splits of 60/40. 59% were over 25.

Days of Future Past kicked off its release on Friday with $35.5M (including $8.1M from Thursday night shows starting at 10pm). Saturday fell 18% to $29.3M and Sunday dropped only 11% to $26M. It is the fourth big-budget tentpole in eight weeks to open north of $90M over three days, and third based on Marvel super heroes.

The new X-Men opened day and date in most of the world this weekend and delivered a sensational $171.1M weekend through Sunday for a worldwide opening of $262M. Japan and Spain are the only major markets that did not launch this weekend. Globally, Days of Future Past is on a trajectory to become the highest-grossing film in the fourteen-year-old X-Men franchise and the next installment Apocalypse is already on the calendar for this same weekend in May 2016.

With another effects-heavy action tentpole entering theaters, last week's champ Godzilla crashed in its sophomore frame falling 67% (comparing three-day periods) to $38.4M despite Sunday business being better than normal given the Monday holiday. That was almost identical to the 68% fall that 1998's Godzilla suffered in its second weekend when it was coming off of its Memorial Day weekend opening. With its built-in audience of fans, the radioactive lizard was always expected to take a big fall in its second round.

Warner Bros. has banked an impressive $155.8M for Godzilla in the first 11.5 days which is ahead of the $148.5M of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 from a few weeks ago which did not have holiday help. A domestic final of around $200M seems likely.

Overseas, steep declines were also witnessed on the second weekend. Godzilla fell by roughly two-thirds to an estimated $35M for an international sum of $167.7M bringing the global haul to $323M and counting. With China and Japan still to open, a final worldwide gross of over $500M is still possible.

Adam Sandler's fading career suffered another flop as his latest entry Blended failed to get anywhere near his usual levels and stumbled into third place with $17.7M over four days and $14.3M over three days. That was the lowest opening weekend for Sandler in a PG-13 broad comedy (his specialty) in 18 years. 1996's Happy Gilmore bowed to $8.5M which at the time was considered solid for a film like that. Opening wide in 3,555 theaters through Warner Bros., Blended averaged a lackluster $4,989 per location over four days.

The reteaming of Sandler with Drew Barrymore came nowhere near the first weekends of their previous partnerships. 1998's The Wedding Singer bowed to $18.9M while 2004's 50 First Dates launched twice as big with $39.9M. Sandler has headlined 13 comedies that have opened north of $30M and had been one of the most reliable box office stars around.

As usual, film critics hated the comedian's latest effort. His movies, instead, sell based on concept and Blended did not excite audiences with its single-parents-on-an-African-safari plot. A poor title didn't help either. Also, moviegoers looking for a big-screen spectacle had plenty of big-budget tentpoles to choose from and those wanting a laugh had Neighbors which grossed almost the same amount of money even though it was in its third weekend. Studio research showed that the audience breakdown was 56% female and 71% over 25. Sandler's audience has aged with him and today's teens have almost no connection to him.

Joining the century club, the raunchy comedy Neighbors enjoyed a moderate hold in its third lap dropping to $17.1M over four days. Universal has captured a stellar $116.8M so far from North America and a sensational $184M worldwide with 22 more international markets to open. The global box office for the frat house flick is already more than ten times its budget of $18M.

In its fourth weekend, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 once again saw more than half of its business vanish. The sequel to the webslinger reboot (and fifth installment in the overall franchise) declined by 53% (comparing three-day periods) to $10M boosting the domestic cume to $187.1M. A final of about $200M in North America seems likely. But overseas keeps on shining. The new international tally of $489M sent the global cume to $676M with 73% coming from offshore markets. The new Amazing has now surpassed the worldwide final of last summer's Man of Steel and is on course to finish up matching Captain America: The Winter Soldier near the $720M neighborhood. China is by far the most successful overseas market on both films.

The baseball film Million Dollar Arm dropped an encouraging 34% in its second weekend to $9.2M putting the total to date at a respectable $22.7M. The $25M-budgeted film may end its domestic run with around $40M. Fox followed with $4.5M for the comedy The Other Woman and $3.4M for the animated film Rio 2. The Cameron Diaz hit dropped 41% and has collected $78.6M to date. Off 34%, the bird toon has banked $122.5M so far.

Low-budget films from outside the studio system rounded out the top ten. The indie comedy Chef from director Jon Favreau expanded from 72 to 498 locations in its third weekend and grossed $3M for a decent $5,975 four-day average. Open Road's cume is now $4.3M. Sony's faith-based hit Heaven Is For Real fell 54% to $2.8M in its sixth weekend for a new total of $86.6M.

The top ten films grossed $216.7M over the four-day holiday weekend which was down 29% from last year when Fast & Furious 6 opened at number one with $117M; but up 19% from 2012 when Men in Black III debuted on top with $69.3M.

Compared to four-day projections, X-Men was on target with my $110M forecast while Blended opened below my $26M prediction.

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Watch the NEW trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy.

For a NEW review of X-Men visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Maleficent and A Million Ways to Die in the West both launch.

# Title May 23 - 26 May 16 - 18 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 X-Men: Days of Future Past $ 110,576,604 3,996 1 $ 27,672 $ 110,576,604 Fox
2 Godzilla 38,437,298 93,188,384 -58.8 3,952 2 9,726 155,785,665 Warner Bros.
3 Blended 17,735,205 3,555 1 4,989 17,735,205 Warner Bros.
4 Neighbors 17,123,730 25,065,895 -31.7 3,266 3 5,243 116,803,595 Universal
5 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 10,010,639 16,803,227 -40.4 3,160 4 3,168 187,111,831 Sony
6 Million Dollar Arm 9,168,641 10,515,659 -12.8 3,019 2 3,037 22,703,446 Disney
7 The Other Woman 4,505,727 6,307,823 -28.6 2,154 5 2,092 78,604,149 Fox
8 Rio 2 3,410,700 3,739,890 -8.8 1,701 7 2,005 122,508,740 Fox
9 Chef 2,975,784 708,690 319.9 498 3 5,975 4,264,083 Open Road
10 Heaven Is For Real 2,790,006 4,380,052 -36.3 1,720 6 1,622 86,590,084 Sony
11 Captain America: The Winter Soldier 2,271,098 3,664,058 -38.0 1,373 8 1,654 254,112,096 Disney
12 Belle 2,184,190 940,446 132.3 453 4 4,822 4,383,950 Fox Searchlight
13 Moms' Night Out 1,017,226 1,773,470 -42.6 861 3 1,181 8,983,072 Sony
14 Divergent 898,285 1,164,742 -22.9 644 10 1,395 148,108,206 Lionsgate
15 The Grand Budapest Hotel 830,756 1,041,698 -20.2 360 12 2,308 56,763,202 Fox Searchlight
16 The Railway Man 729,505 305,568 138.7 600 7 1,216 3,620,898 Weinstein Co.
17 Kochadaiiyaan 657,727 161 1 4,085 657,727 Eros
18 Legends of Oz 630,656 1,957,456 -67.8 674 3 936 7,863,934 Clarius
19 The Immigrant 568,777 44,064 147 2 3,869 639,117 Weinstein Co.
20 The LEGO Movie 541,317 499,641 8.3 323 16 1,676 255,055,805 Warner Bros.
Top 5 $ 193,883,476 $ 151,880,988 27.7
Top 10 216,734,334 167,395,914 29.5
Top 20 227,063,871 174,139,550 30.4
Top 20 vs. Memorial Day 2013 227,063,871 310,889,302 -27.0

Last Updated: May 28, 2014 at 4:30PM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Thursday at 6:40pm ET.

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