By David Shane
Well that was nice, wasn’t it? A few months of blockbuster after blockbuster, starting of course with The Avengers in May ($207.4 million opening, $618 million domestic box office to date) and culminating in July with the final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy ($160.9 million opening, $414 million domestic box office to date). Avengers now stands at third place all-time in both domestic and worldwide box office, behind only Avatar and Titanic, at one and two, respectfully. In contrast, The Dark Knight Rises is deceptively disappointing, as it’s falling well short of The Dark Knight’s $533 million domestic gross from 2008, though its international box office total is so far eclipsing its predecessor by $19 million and counting, an amount that can be attributed to stronger sales more so than ticket price inflation.
Those two films alone made the summer a success, but other major releases held their own, even if they won’t go down as all-time blockbuster champs, such as The Amazing Spider-Man aka Spidey 4, which has grossed $257.8 million to date. It’s well off the pace of any of the previous entries into the franchise (I know I skipped it) but nobody can say it wasn’t some sort of a hit. A few other films did a respectful amount of business, such as Men in Black 3, Will Smith’s first film in four years. Despite troubling script problems, massive plot holes and a strange, disjointed production schedule, when all was said and done, Big Willie retains his box office supremacy with $178 million domestic and $621.6 million gross worldwide on a budget totaling an exorbitant $320 million. Profitable is profitable, though.
There were also some gigantic misses from Hollywood’s most bulging coffers, with the $250 million price-tagged Battleship sinking at just $65.2 million domestic and Johnny Depp’s $150 million period vampire comedy Dark Shadows doing only marginally better with $79.7 million domestic. At least people saw those films, even if they fell well short of expectations. There’s no white washing the box office results for Rock of Ages, That’s My Boy, The Watch, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and a few others, many of which cost close to $100 million or more, but stalled in the $35 million domestic box office range. The Expendables 2, budgeted at $140 million, had a disappointingly soft $29.5 million opening, but as it’s less than a week old, its legs and final tally are yet to be determined. It’s still possible it could become a sleeper hit of sorts and eke out a profit in the long run. Stranger things have happened.
The box office hopes and expectations are coming back down to earth now, with modestly budgeted and often long delayed films being dumped, as usual, in the final two weeks of August, starting this week with the arrival of Hollywood’s go-to blockbuster screenplay polisher David Koepp’s Manhattan bike messenger thriller Premium Rush, starring newly anointed Hollywood darling Joseph Gordon-Levitt. With an uneven ad campaign and no faith by the studio, Premium Rush has moved around its release date numerous times and thus no consistent ads have come out, keeping audience awareness quite low. Hit and Run, on the other hand, could do quite well for its modest beginnings. Written and directed by goofball actor Dax Shepard, formerly of Ashton Kutcher’s original Punk’d team and co-starring his fiancée Kristen Bell as well as his friend and popular star Bradley Cooper, Hit and Run’s viral marketing campaign has gained enough to attention to possibly give it legs, despite a somewhat limited release. Finally, the Ashley Greene led ghost thriller The Apparition opens in a limited theatrical run, coinciding with a VOD release. Expect it to open at the bottom of the top ten with $1-3 million.
TOP FIVE PREDICTION:
- The Expendables 2 $13 million
- The Bourne Legacy $10 million
- Premium Rush $9 million
- ParaNorman $8.5 million
- The Campaign $8 million