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  1. 'Girls Trip' Has Best R-Rated Comedy Opening in 2 Years

    Moviegoers wanted to get rowdy this weekend -- just look the success of "Girls Trip."

    The funny flick exceeded box office expectations this weekend and ultimately had the best opening for an R-rated comedy since 2015. With Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall, and Tiffany Haddish as stars, "Girls Trip" bowed to more than $30.4 million, according to THR. It topped Amy Schumer's "Trainwreck ($30.1 million) and came close to Mark Wahlberg's "Ted 2" ($33.5 million), both of which opened in 2015.

    Notably, "Girls Trip" is another example for studios that yes, people will go see female-driven films as well as movies with diverse casts, especially if they are done well. The movie, which centers on long-time friends who head to New Orleans for a crazy weekend, has been getting solid reviews from critics and audiences alike. "Girls Trip" currently has an 88 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes' "Tomatometer" and a 90 percent audience score.

    We'll see what kind of momentum the film has, but for now, the movie's opening has already made a strong showing, surpassing its production budget of $19 million. Universal Pictures certainly can't complain about that.

    If you're ready for raunchy, R-rated fun, "Girls Trip" is in theaters now.

    [via: THR]

  2. Here's How 'Dunkirk' and 'Girls Trip' Crushed Expectations at the Box Office

    The way industry insiders were talking about "Dunkirk" before it opened well this weekend, you'd have thought it was a little independent art film, not a major studio's $150 million action epic with decent Oscar prospects.

    Predictions for the combat tale's premiere were all over the map, from as low as $24 to as high as $38 to $40 million, though most guesses were in the 40s. After all, "Dunkirk" belongs to a genre that doesn't do well among young audiences (World War II films), addresses an event few Americans know about (since it took place before we entered the war), and features a cast of British actors known more for their prestige than their ability to sell tickets. So Warner Bros. deserves to boast that "Dunkirk"'s estimated opening weekend of $50.5 million came in above expectations.

    That's an especially good number considering that "Dunkirk" faced competition for the male audience from sci-fi spectacle "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets," which debuted on a similar number of screens, as well as an unexpectedly strong turnout for ensemble comedy "Girls Trip," which opened with an estimated $30.4 million, about $10 million above expectations.

    How did "Dunkirk" and "Girls Trip" succeed, while "Valerian" pretty much bombed with an estimated $17 million? The reasons why reinforce some lessons the box office has been teaching us all summer.

    1. Brand Value
    More than any of the stars of "Dunkirk," the biggest box office draw attached to the film was surely director Christopher Nolan.

    After the massively successful and acclaimed "Dark Knight" trilogy and "Inception," he's one of the few directors who's a household name, one whose distinctive style promises strong visuals, epic scope, and brainy storytelling -- but with mass appeal. Even his mind bending sci-fi saga "Interstellar," which many viewers found disappointing, still made a profit while offering substantial food for thought. So Nolan's name alone may have been enough to overcome the movie's arcane topic and modest star power.

    Will Packer isn't as familiar a name, but the "Girls Trip" producer also has a signature style, one that has resulted in a long string of successful, modestly-budgeted comedies with predominantly black casts. After the "Think Like a Man" and "Ride Along" movies, Packer has a loyal core audience but also attracts crossover viewers as well. Add on director Malcolm D. Lee, known for the "Best Man" movies, and African-American viewers had a solid idea of what to expect from "Girls Trip."

    French director Luc Besson may be an even less familiar name here, despite such stateside hits over the past quarter-century as "The Professional," "The Fifth Element," and "Lucy." Besson fans know his reputation for butt-kicking heroines, fanciful plotting, and sensory-overload visuals. That's what he delivers in "Valerian," but Besson and the movie may have been simply too exotic to have had much impact on domestic viewers.

    2. Originality
    There's been a lot of talk about viewers' franchise fatigue this summer, though much of that can be chalked up to just bad movie fatigue. This week's new wide releases, however, weren't typical franchise fare. Well, "Valerian" is based on a French comic book series, but it's one that almost no one in America has heard of. The other two movies are original stories, one drawn from history but still unfamiliar to Americans. So "Valerian" can't blame sequelitis. What mattered more was...

    3. Execution
    Critics loved "Dunkirk," giving it some of the year's best reviews to date and a high 92 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences agreed, with the film earning an A- CinemaScore.

    But ticket buyers liked "Girls Trip" even better, giving it a rare A+. (Critics liked the comedy nearly as much, giving it an RT score of 89 percent.) "Valerian," however, scored a weak 54 percent among RT reviewers and a similarly meh B- at CinemaScore. So it seems fair to say that "Dunkirk" and "Girls Trip" did what they set out to do. "Valerian," maybe not so much.

    4. Genre Is a Major Draw
    "Dunkirk" and "Girls Trip" were both surprisingly successful for their genre. World War II movies haven't done well as historical memory of the conflict recedes; the biggest recent hit in the genre is Marvel's "Captain America: The First Avenger." Similarly, R-rated comedies have done poorly all summer. So execution and brand value were especially important for these two hits.

    Sci-fi, however, is often a crap shoot. Besson minimized the risk by spreading out the film's reported $180 million cost among multiple financiers in several countries. Still, when creating massive futuristic fantasy universes, the line between the next "Avatar" and the next "Jupiter Ascending" can be awfully thin.

    5. Social Media
    For a teen icon, Harry Styles is surprisingly inactive on social media. Not like, say, "Girls Trip" star Queen Latifah, who can claim tens of millions of online followers. To the extent that movies are depending on stars' social media presence to drive interest, especially among younger viewers, that made a difference.

    6. Visuals
    The one element of "Valerian" that critics raved about was the way it looked. But as they say about Broadway musicals, no one ever goes home humming the scenery. Then again, "Dunkirk" may have stolen its visual thunder.

    Nolan got a lot of attention for his panoramic cinematography, much of it shot in IMAX and other wide-screen stock. The director also strived to create massive battle scenes the old-fashioned way, without CGI and with a literal cast of thousands. As a result, "Dunkirk" earned an impressive $11.7 million, or about 22 percent of its premiere gross, from IMAX venues.

    7. Timing Is Key for Nolan's Summer Movies
    Besson staked out "Valerian's" release date two years ago, perhaps unaware that he'd be up against Nolan. By the way, you'd think Warner Bros. would wait for a fall date for an Oscar-hopeful movie, but he likes July, since his Batman movies did well during the summer month. (In fact, the filmmaker insisted on the July slot, opening in a corridor similar to the one "Saving Private Ryan" used in July 1998.) Since no other Oscar-chasing movies are out now, Nolan had the field to himself.

    "Girls Trip" also had no real marketplace rivals, though its makers couldn't have guessed it would benefit from being the one well-liked R-rated comedy after a string of disappointments in the genre.

    8. Domestic Audiences Have Weight
    "Valerian," like most of this summer's mega-budgeted movies, was not really made with domestic viewers in mind. Like those films, from "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" to "Transformers: The Last Knight," "Valerian" should make the bulk of its money overseas -- though don't count on it. It could ultimately earn a profit and justify its international financing despite proving a dud here.

    "Girls Trip" may not do as well abroad, since comedies tend to translate poorly. But like Packer's other comedies, as well as such recent films as "Get Out" and "All Eyez on Me," it should prove that there's profit to be made from movies that smartly target African-American viewers, and that such films can become crossover hits as well.

    As for "Dunkirk," there may not have been much in the subject matter or the casting to interest American audiences. Still, the film's opening weekend shows that we'll go see a movie about an obscure (to us) wartime event as long as it's well-made, shot by a director we like, in a manner that justifies seeing it on a (very) big screen.

  3. 'Wonder Woman' Has More Box Office Magic Than Harry Potter in North America

    In a battle between "Wonder Woman" and Harry Potter at the domestic box office, the superhero has the wizard stupefied.

    As of Sunday, the Gal Gadot-starring film had earned more than $380.60 million in North America since its June 2 opening, according to Box Office Mojo data. With that being the case, the film was poised to overtake the final Harry Potter film, which is the top-grossing installment in the film series based on J.K. Rowling's beloved books. Released in 2011, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2" brought in more than $381.01 million at the domestic box office.

    It is worth noting that the first Potter film, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," is actually the best-performing of the series when ticket sales are adjusted for inflation; the film's approximately $317.58 million in 2001 becomes more than $494.27 million, per Box Office Mojo. Still, "Wonder Woman" hasn't left theaters yet, and Forbes projections in late June indicated the movie could crack $400 million.

    Interestingly, in spite of the fact that the superhero flick has also knocked the likes of "Deadpool" and "Furious 7," among other hits, down the domestic charts, its international box office performance hasn't been quite as dominant. The film's $765.90 million worldwide is far from shabby, but "Wonder Woman" has a ways to go if it is going to top the whopping $1.34 billion total of "Deathly Hallows - Part 2." Whether or not that happens, this latest accomplishment is another big one.

    [h/t: THR]

  4. Six Reasons Why 'Planet of the Apes' Suffered Franchise Fatigue at the Box Office

    You'd think the folks at Fox would be going bananas over the box office victory this weekend for "War for the Planet of the Apes."

    After all, this was supposed to be the first truly close competition of the summer, with "War" battling the still-strong second weekend of "Spider-Man: Homecoming." In the end, however, "War" was far and away the winner, earning an estimated $56.5 million -- slightly-less than what was projected -- while Spidey also fell behind expectations with an estimated $45.2 million

    And yet, by the franchise's own standards, it's hard not to see "War" as a disappointment. It opened in more theaters than the first two films in the prequel trilogy, 2011's "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and 2014's "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." Still, it opened well below "Dawn" (which debuted with $72.6 million) and barely a hair above "Rise" (which premiered with $54.8 million). It was also riding good reviews (95 percent at Rotten Tomatoes) and excellent word-of-mouth (it earned an A- at CinemaScore, just like the two previous "Apes" films).

    Domestically, "War" could well end up the lowest grossing of the current "Apes" trilogy," failing to beat the $208.5 million "Dawn" earned in North America or even the $176.8 million that "Rise" earned here. Plus, the movie cost $150 million to make. For Fox to earn a profit, after production costs, marketing costs, and the theater owners' share of ticket sales, "War" will have to earn about $600 million worldwide, so its global gross of $102.5 million so far suggests that breaking even will be a long shot. How did this happen? Here are a few reasons to factor in:

    1. Superheroes > Apes
    Even with the disappointments this summer of such sequels as "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales," "Transformers: The Last Knight," and "Despicable Me 3," Hollywood's shrugging assessment that moviegoers were suffering from franchise fatigue rang hollow. After all, these films earned terrible reviews and weak word-of-mouth. Some franchise movies with good reviews and positive word-of-mouth were succeeding, like "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," "Wonder Woman," and "Spider-Man: Homecoming."

    But what if it was just that these movies all featured DC and Marvel comic book heroes? Individual moviegoers may claim to be getting tired of superheroes, but as a group, we still flock to see them, even when the movies earn terrible buzz, like "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" and "Suicide Squad." Maybe what "War" needed was an ape with a cape.

    2. Rotten Tomatoes Scores Matter to a Point
    The studios have been complaining all summer that poor scores at RT have been discouraging customers, especially since those scores appear right in front of the virtual box office window at Fandango. As this column noted last week, there is some research that suggests that weak RT scores do affect online buzz. However, that research also showed that high RT scores do little to improve buzz. Which means, as good as the reviews were for "War," they didn't really help sell tickets.

    3. "War" Looked Too Much Like "Dawn"
    Conventional Hollywood wisdom has it that mass audiences want to see something familiar and comforting. That's the logic behind having so many reboots, remakes, sequels, and universe-building films, and it's the reason why so many sequels seem to deliver the same experience as previous installments. If there really is franchise fatigue, this is what causes it, and it's one reason why audiences responded so well to "Wonder Woman" and "Spider-Man: Homecoming": even though they told familiar stories, they felt fresh and different in their approaches.

    Looking at the trailers for "War," however, its scenes of gorilla guerrilla warfare looked a lot like those of "Dawn." Also, if you think about it, "War" is not just the third movie in a trilogy that started six years ago; it's the ninth movie in a franchise that's been around for 49 years and which also included multiple spinoffs in other media.

    Ticket buyers who saw "War" seem to have enjoyed it as much as they did the last two movies, but to get them into the theater, the film's marketing needed to do a better job of convincing those moviegoers that "War" was not something they'd seen before.

    4. Star Power Still Means Something
    Used to be that Hollywood valued movie stars for their ability to sell tickets. Now, however, what matters is their ability to get likes on Instagram and Facebook.

    Social media buzz is increasingly crucial to a film's success, and that means casting stars with big online followings. Woody Harrelson, "War"'s most recognizable face, may have been a familiar face to moviegoers and TV viewers for more than 30 years, and he may have boosted his profile recently by co-starring in the huge "Hunger Games" franchise, but he doesn't have much of a social media game. Neither does Steve Zahn, who plays a prominent new ape character. Andy Serkis, who has played the lead role of chimpanzee Caesar in all three of the recent "Apes" films, does have a solid Twitter following, but it seems not to have been enough.

    5. Timing Is a Big Deal
    "Homecoming" may have settled for second place this weekend, and it may have taken a bigger second-week hit than expected, tumbling 61 percent from last weekend's premiere. Still, Spidey proved a formidable adversary to Caesar.

    Pre-sales for the two movies on Fandango were neck-and-neck, with "Homecoming" just a nose ahead of "War." Indeed, "War" had to fight off a lot of still-strong movies that targeted similar viewers. Action fans also had "Homecoming," "Baby Driver," and "Wonder Woman" as options. Older viewers who might have appreciated "War"'s philosophizing and nostalgia value, may have been drawn to critical darlings "Baby Driver" and "The Big Sick." And women may have turned toward the romantic comedy of "The Big Sick" or the horror of new release "Wish Upon."

    By contrast, "Dawn" had little serious competition when it opened on this same weekend three years ago -- just the third week of "Transformers: Age of Extinction" and the second week of "Tammy." Neither film earned more than $17 million that weekend, giving "Dawn" an easy ride to its $72.6 million premiere.

    But it's not just movies that have already opened that are rivals to "War." After all, next weekend sees the releases of "Dunkirk," "Girls Trip," and "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets." One is a Christopher Nolan action epic, the sort of movie that demands to be seen on the big screen and that attracts adults of all ages. One is a comedy that targets women and African-American viewers. And one is a sci-fi wild card from "Fifth Element" and "Lucy" director Luc Besson. As audiences flock to "Dunkirk" and "Girls Trip," "War" could have a tough time staving off erosion during its second weekend.

    6. Can't Always Count on International Markets
    It's still possible that overseas moviegoers could rescue "War," the way they have so many other domestic underperformers this year, and the way they did the last two "Apes" movies, which earned between 63 and 70 percent of their total grosses abroad.

    So far, however, "War" has earned just 45 percent of its total overseas. That share may well improve over the coming weeks. Still, the film's foreign grosses will have to be about ten times what they are now in order to make a profit, and that's unlikely.

    As "Transformers: The Last Knight," "The Mummy," and "Baywatch" have all demonstrated this summer, you can make the lion's share of your money overseas and still not turn a profit. Writing off the domestic audience is leaving money on the table. As "War" has shown by premiering $17.1 million below "Dawn," every American ticket dollar is worth fighting for.

  5. Box Office: 'Apes' Tops 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' With $56.5 Million

    War for the Planet of the Apes box officeBy Seth Kelley

    LOS ANGELES, July 16 (Variety.com) - "War for the Planet of the Apes" is officially the box office champ, during a weekend that demands a close look.

    Fox and Chernin Entertainment's latest "Apes" movie is coming in on the low end of expectations with $56.5 million from 4,022 locations. It was pegged at $60 million-$65 million earlier in the week, but is ending up about the same as 2011's "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," which kicked off the modern trilogy with $54.8 million during its opening weekend. 2014's "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" was a bigger hit with a $72.6 million domestic opening, when it hit theaters against the third weekend of "Transformers: Age of Extinction."

    One way "War for the Planet of the Apes" stands out from other big-budget studio films is its rave reviews -- it currently has a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. The film, which depicts the titular war between apes and humans, is directed by Matt Reeves, who joined the franchise when he stepped in on "Dawn." Much has been made of the noticeable updates in technology that have gone into bring Andy Serkis' character Caesar, the lead ape, to life. Woody Harrelson, in human form, joins the franchise as the villain, while Steve Zahn, as a chimp, offers comic relief.

    "First and foremost the movie came in right where we expected it to," said Fox's distribution chief Chris Aronson, who pointed to a potentially "soft" next few weeks that could give "Apes" a long runway. "We're going to play for quite some time," he said.

    "Spider Man: Homecoming," meanwhile, is landing in second with about $45.2 million. That's a 61% drop from last weekend's heroic opening, which is probably a steeper falloff than Sony would have liked to see. That said, the movie's total domestic gross in two weekend -- $208.3 million -- is already higher than the entire run of "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." "Homecoming" is a hit with critics and audiences (93% on Rotten Tomatoes; A CinemaScore), and dominated social media chatter for weeks leading up to its release. Tom Holland is the teen in the red suit, who first joined the Marvel universe in "Captain America: Civil War."

    The weekend's other major release apart from "Apes" is the horror flick "Wish Upon" from Broad Green Pictures and Orion Pictures. The movie is entering the box office with a whisper, about $5.6 million from 2,250 locations. The fright-fest is directed by John R. Leonetti based on a script by Barbara Marshall. Its primarily young cast, led by Joey King, includes two Netflix alums in "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's" Ki Hong Lee (aka Dong), and "Stranger Things'" beloved Barb, Shannon Purser. The movie was largely panned by critics, with a 20% on Rotten Tomatoes, and it also carries a lackluster audience appeal with a C CinemaScore.

    Universal's "Despicable Me 3" is showing in third place for the weekend, expecting to earn an additional $19 million from 4,155 locations. And Sony's "Baby Driver" stays in the conversation with a strong 32% hold that should land it in fourth. Edgar Wright's latest is racing to $8.8 million from 3,043 locations. Rounding out the top five is the indie darling "The Big Sick" from comedian Kumail Nanjiani. The movie expanded to wide release (2,597 spots) during its fourth weekend in theaters, and should earn $7.6 million.

    "It's amazing that this independent film has found its footing as a family movie among all the summer blockbusters," said Amazon Studios' marketing and distribution chief Bob Berney in a statement. "The comedy and universal themes are connecting with audiences across the country."

    Finally, keep an eye on "Wonder Woman," which is finishing in sixth this weekend with $6.7 million, and closing in on several benchmarks. By Monday, it's expected to cross $381 million domestically, which would put it past "Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows Part 2" to become the third highest Warner Bros. movie ever. It's also only a few million shy of passing "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," which with $386.2 million is currently the highest grossing movie of the summer so far. "Wonder Woman" has already blown past the domestic totals of fellow DC Comics movies "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" and "Suicide Squad."

  6. Why 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' Is the Best Spider-Man Movie Yet

    This weekend, "Spider-Man: Homecoming" made a splash, coming in with the second-greatest opening weekend for any Sony movie and successfully turning the tide on a franchise that had sputtered out of gas after two lukewarm reboots. What's more, it was a critical sensation, currently sitting with a 93% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Compare that to other big summer sequels like "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" (29%) and "Transformers: The Last Knight" (15% -- ouch), and you can see just how monumental this is. And all weekend people took to Twitter debating whether or not this was the best Spider-Man movie ever. Well, let us settle that debate for you. It is. And there are several reasons why.

    1. "Spider-Man 2" isn't as good as you remember.

    The main area of contention on Twitter seems to be whether or not "Spider-Man: Homecoming" is better than "Spider-Man 2," Sam Raimi's 2004 sequel. Well, it is, and here's why: "Spider-Man 2" isn't that great. Yes, it is beautifully put together and, at the time, it was unique to see a superhero movie as concerned with the emotional wellness of its characters as it was with action set pieces. But it's easy to forget just how much of the movie was a retread of the first film, including the central dynamic of Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) coming under the thrall of a charismatic scientist (Alfred Molina) who inevitably goes bad and tries to kill him.

    And while the arc of Peter giving up his powers in an effort to live his life is compelling, it also derails the movie, as it gets bogged down in his existential crisis to the point that the movie loses much of its momentum. These problems don't affect "Spider-Man: Homecoming." One of the most miraculous things about the movie is that Parker's internal struggle is juxtaposed with the larger issues at play with neither thread losing steam or taking up too much screen time. Everything that "Spider-Man 2" does, "Spider-Man: Homecoming" does better.

    2. It's so funny.

    So many comic-book movies forget that they're based on COMIC books. "Spider-Man: Homecoming" knows what it's based on, and it is funny. It's not only the funniest Spider-Man cinematic adventure yet, it's one of the funniest Marvel movies so far. And that's saying something. There's something fearless about the comedy in "Spider-Man: Homecoming." In putting the funny first, it feels wholly different from anything on the market. It's quietly revolutionary, especially since the humor doesn't take away from the drama, emotionality, or excitement elsewhere in the film. Somehow, it makes you clutch your side laughing and gasp breathlessly at the same time. That's awesome. And it feels very much like the experience of high school, where small things can seem colossal and, from the outside, everything is like a cosmic joke.

    3. This is the first movie to really engage with the notion of Peter Parker as a high school student.

    And that brings us to one of the very best aspects of "Spider-Man: Homecoming" -- it's the first Spider-Man movie to really engage with the character as a teenage high school student. (Seriously, re-watch the first Raimi movie; he's in high school for about 15 minutes before graduating.) Here, Peter Parker is a real kid and it's so, so awesome. When the filmmakers said that they were inspired by John Hughes films, they weren't kidding; it's incredible how fleshed out this high school world is: we get Peter's friends, his crushes, his teachers, his principle. We know what he's doing at school, what activities he's dropped out of so that he can be a part of the "Stark Internship" (aka being Spider-Man) and what his commitment to heroism means for him. And we're not saddled with the prerequisite origin story (something that both sets of films have depicted), which frees up even more space. It's so refreshing to see the character as a fully fleshed out individual, and that dimensionality adds so much to the power of "Spider-Man: Homecoming."4. Tom Holland is the best Spider-Man.

    Which brings us to ... Tom Holland. Holland is a uniquely talented actor (as you've probably seen in "The Impossible" or this year's brilliant "Lost City of Z"), and we even got to see him inhabit the character for a few minutes in "Captain America: Civil War" (an electrifying debut, for sure). But nothing can prepare you for just how wonderful Holland really is. He's fidgety, unsure, and driven. He's also deeply heroic and lovable. And since Holland is the youngest actor to ever be cast in the role, he actually feels like a kid dealing with these same issues. Maguire was good, but his age gave the performance a kind of distance that didn't serve the movies well. Plus, stripped from all of those activities and embellishments around Peter Parker as a person, so much rested on his shoulders. It was an unfair burden that Holland isn't stuck with. And his version of the character soars because of it.

    5. It fits into the larger MCU so well.

    The first "Amazing Spider-Man" film (with Andrew Garfield inheriting the role) came out in 2012, four years into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the vast, interconnected network of films that began with "Iron Man." Now that Sony and Disney have worked out a deal to incorporate Spider-Man into the MCU, it feels very organic and, well, great. In fact, the movie starts off immediately following the events of the first "Avengers" (a movie that came out, probably not coincidentally, in 2012) and there are so many moments and nods that make the character feel like he's always been a part of this world. It's exciting and fresh and makes you reinvested in the character in a way you probably haven't since "Spider-Man 2."6. It's about something (and so diverse!)

    The first "Spider-Man" came out a few months after the terrorist attacks on September 11th, and it felt very much like a rousing ode to the newly reignited patriotism that was coursing through the country. But there weren't any explicit references to the attack and the movie, made before the towers fell, was clearly constructed before our lives were reshaped by that tragic event. What was odd was that the movies that followed were just as apolitical. They were never about anything. But "Spider-Man: Homecoming" is.

    There's a moment when Vulture (Michael Keaton) is explaining his philosophy to Peter and he talks about how Tony Stark and the reset of the Avengers are, essentially, the 1%. They're so far removed from real life that we shouldn't expect them to understand the plight of the everyman. It's powerful as all get-out and gives the movie some real life resonance. Also adding to the feeling that "Spider-Man: Homecoming" is a movie of our time is how diverse the cast is; the kids who go to school with Peter actually feel like teenagers in Queens. It's so refreshing and amazing. This is a Spider-Man for now.

  7. How 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' Helped Save the Summer Box Office

    SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING box officeThat "whoosh" sound you hear is the collective sigh of relief in Hollywood over the record-smashing debut of "Spider-Man: Homecoming," and it's emanating not just from the suits at Sony and Marvel, but from the industry as a whole.

    Most observers expected the film to crack $100 million (Sony's own prediction was a conservative $80 million), but by the end of the weekend, Sony was estimating that the franchise reboot had premiered with $117.0 million. It's the biggest single-character series launcher ever for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (beating the $98.6 million opening of "Iron Man"), the second-biggest debut of the six Spidey movies (beaten only by the $151.1 million debut of "Spider-Man 3" a decade ago), and the third-largest premiere of any movie in 2017 (behind "Beauty and the Beast" and "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2").

    That's good news for a box office that, throughout the first half of the summer season, has seen one disappointment after another. After a series of high-profile sequel flops and failed franchise launchers, this summer has made 2017 fall behind 2016 in total grosses, though the success of the new "Spider-Man" has helped close the gap, to the point where domestic grosses are now only about $12 million behind where they were at this point a year ago.

    Maybe Spidey's success can help dispel some myths about what's behind the summer slump, since Hollywood has been quick to jump to the wrong conclusion about what's ailing the box office. For example:SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING box officeIt's not franchise fatigue. That's been the industry excuse for why people didn't want to see a fifth "Pirates of the Caribbean," a fifth "Transformers," a fourth "Mummy," and a third "Despicable Me." Yet here, we have the sixth Spider-Man movie and third Spider-Man franchise launcher in just 15 years. If ever there was a case for franchise fatigue, it would be here, especially the way the two recent "Amazing Spider-Man" movies squandered the series' good will. But that ill will didn't carry over to "Homecoming," just as ill will from "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" and "Suicide Squad" didn't harm "Wonder Woman."

    What "Homecoming," "Wonder Woman," and "Guardians Vol. 2" have in common is strong reviews and excellent word-of-mouth. (Moviegoers gave "Homecoming" an A at CinemaScore, the best grade of any Spidey film.) These assets are also what most of this summer's flops lack. Ticket buyers aren't suffering from franchise fatigue. What they're feeling is bad-movie fatigue.SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING box officeIt's not Rotten Tomatoes. The industry has been complaining all summer that the movie review aggregator is hurting business, especially since RT scores appear at the point-of-purchase at corporate sibling Fandango, ensuring that potential ticket buyers see the critical consensus on a film before spending their hard-earned cash on advance seats.

    This wouldn't have been a problem for "Homecoming," which scored a 93 percent fresh rating at RT. But social media research firm Fizzology claimed recently that it's found high RT scores have little impact on a film's online buzz, while low RT scores do result in a surge of discouraging social media chatter. It's not clear, though, whether that negative buzz has a measurable impact on sales.

    It's certainly true that positive RT scores may not help a film at the box office. That was the case this summer with "It Comes at Night," a horror movie that bombed last month despite strong reviews. Conversely, negative reviews didn't hurt sales of "Batman v Superman" or "Suicide Squad."

    Still, the Hollywood lament of the season has been that summer moviegoers used to spend money indiscriminately on escapist popcorn movies, but now RT is discouraging them from doing so. The argument that critics have educated the masses to the point where the studios can no longer count on their poor taste is pretty insulting. The truth is, most people don't go out to the movies that often anymore, so when they do, they don't want to waste their money on an experience they don't think they'll enjoy. Again, it's not franchise fatigue or bad-review fatigue, it's just bad-movie fatigue.SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING box officeKid appeal still matters. You'd think this would be obvious to an industry that usually caters to youth at the expense of mature audiences. And yet this summer has seen very few family-friendly movies. There have been several R-rated comedies and several franchise films whose surprisingly bleak tone ("Wonder Woman," for instance) has appealed primarily to adults. Not much for young children and teens, save for a "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" sequel and three cartoons.

    "Homecoming," however, returns Spider-Man to his teenage roots, complete with John Hughes-style storytelling. Star Tom Holland was just 20 when he made the film (Tobey Maguire was 26 the first time he suited up as Spidey; Andrew Garfield was 28). Co-star Zendaya may not be well known to people over 25, but the Disney Channel regular is huge among tweens. She has 43 million followers on Instagram (Robert Downey Jr., whose appearance as Iron Man in the movie was supposed to help bring in longtime Marvel fans, has 16 million Instagram followers), and she's certainly been leveraging that social media reach to publicize the movie. No wonder 57 percent of "Homecoming" viewers were under 25.SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING box officeDiversity matters. Complaints about Hollywood's over-reliance on casts that are predominantly white and male are not just about being politically correct, they're about good business. The multi-ethnic casting of the "Fast & Furious" movies has long been recognized as a component of their enormous success among audiences, both domestic and across the globe. In the case of "Homecoming," audiences took notice that the cast included stars like Zendaya, Tony Revolori, and Donald Glover.

    Not only did they help make the movie's New York City look more like the real thing, but they helped draw non-white viewers. The "Homecoming" audience was 13 percent African-American (about the same as their percentage in the American populace), 24 percent Hispanic (well above their percentage among the populace) and 10 percent Asian-American (also well above their percentage of the population).SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING box officeThe domestic audience still matters. Hollywood accountants have waved away criticism of the summer's many domestic flops by noting that the films are doing much so better overseas than at home that they'll be profitable anyway. As a result, the studios seem to think that they don't have to bother making movies that appeal to domestic viewers anymore. (This makes their griping about Rotten Tomatoes all the harder to swallow.)

    Still, how long can that business model persist? The makers of "Transformers: The Last Knight" crowed about how well the film did in China, where its $120 million debut was one of the largest ever for a Hollywood import, and where its $198 million total to date represents the biggest contribution of any country's sales to the movie's $495 million global total. Even so, Chinese grosses won't be enough. With a $217 million production budget, plus marketing and distribution costs, "The Last Knight" would have to gross about $1 billion worldwide to break even, yet this looks like the first "Transformers" film since the second one that won't cross that 10-figure threshold . Besides, distributor Paramount will get to keep only about a fourth of that $198 million Chinese gross (the rest goes to theater owners), while it'll get about half of the movie's domestic gross ($119 million and counting). So domestic sales will still bring in more profit than Chinese sales, and that's for a sequel that's far and away the least popular of the five "Transformers" films among American audiences. Imagine if they'd made a movie that ticket buyers here actually liked.

    "Homecoming," at least, won't have that problem. Sure, it's also doing better overseas than here (it's made an estimated $140 million abroad so far), but the proportions aren't totally out of whack like they are for "Transformers" (which has earned 76 percent of its total overseas) and many other summer movies that underwhelmed in North America compared to foreign markets. Like "Guardians Vol. 2," "Homecoming" has earned a solid 45 percent of its total to date in North America. For "Wonder Woman," it's nearly 50-50. So it's still a good idea to make movies with some domestic appeal. After all, as "The Last Knight" proves, you can't count on the inferior taste of foreign audiences forever.

  8. Box Office: 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' Slings to Massive $117 Million Domestic Opening

    LOS ANGELES, July 9 (Variety.com) - Spider-Man is officially a box office overachiever.

    As of Sunday morning, the latest cinematic depiction of the webbed-hero, "Spider-Man: Homecoming," is looking at a $117 million opening from 4,348 locations. $10.6 million of the domestic total came from 392 Imax screens. That's a huge win for Sony, Columbia Pictures, and Marvel Studios for the film, which cost roughly $175 million to produce. The anticipated opening weekend is higher than industry estimates, which were in the $90 million to $110 million range, while the studio cautiously pegged it at $80 million.

    "Everyone at Sony and Marvel are thrilled," said Josh Greenstein, Sony's marketing chief. "It's safe to say it's a triumphant return for Spider-Man."

    "Homecoming" banked on the idea that the summer box office was craving a family-friendly superhero movie -- Tom Holland plays a high school version of Peter Parker who, at 15 years old, has to prove that he is worthy of being called an Avenger. And it seems that bet is paying off. The $117 million figure is the second largest in Sony Pictures history, behind "Spider-Man 3."

    Much attention has been paid to the flick's successful marketing campaign, which heavily featured Iron Man (Robert Downy Jr.), who serves as Spider-Man's mentor in the film. Michael Keaton plays the big bad, Vulture, Jon Favreau plays Spidey's guardian, Happy Hogan, and Zendaya stars as Michelle Jones ("MJ"), Parker's brainy classmate. The movie consistently dominated social media in the weeks leading up to its release.

    Before "Homecoming," Jon Watts directed two much lower-budget feature films -- the 2014 horror movie "Clown" and 2015's "Cop Car" starring Kevin Bacon. He also has a handful of writing and producing credits, and is one of six writers credited on the "Homecoming" script. Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal share production credit. While the former has proven essentially infallible in the biz, "Homecoming" serves as a redemption narrative for the latter. After the infamous 2014 Sony hack, Pascal was ousted from her post at the top of the studio, and began to focus on producing. This is her second major release following last summer's "Ghostbusters" reboot, but she also has a hand in a long list of upcoming projects including Sony's "Barbie" movie, Steven Spielberg's A-list-studded "The Papers," and future "Spider-Man" movies.

    "We have incredible partners," said Greenstein, who said that those relationships helped the film to be "embraced in a big way. It really shows the strength for this beloved character."

    Despite the reliability of superhero movies at the box office, "Homecoming" could have been seen as a big bet for all parties involved. For one, it's the third iteration of the character in the past 15 years -- before Holland, Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire donned the Spidey suit. The makers had to trust that audiences would be ready to see the character yet again. On top of that, the summer box office has not been particularly kind to the sequels and reboots that have become the industry's summer signature. As audience fatigue has impacted previously reliable franchises like "Transformers" and even "Despicable Me," the one thing that this summer has proved is that the domestic audience is not yet burnt out on superheroes.

    This is yet another Marvel movie release that has managed to capture the approval of critics and audience members -- something the DC Extended Universe could not claim until this summer with "Wonder Woman." But Marvel's been there since the beginning. "Homecoming" currently has a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and an A CinemaScore.

    "Homecoming" is the only major release this weekend, so the rest of the top five are made up to familiar faces. Starting with "Despicable Me 3," which is headed for a $34 million second frame, or a 53% drop from last weekend. "Baby Driver" should sit comfortable in third, as positive word of a mouth is steering to a $12.8 million second weekend, or a 38% drop. "Wonder Woman" continues to hold on with $10.1 million in its sixth weekend, and "Transformers: The Last Knight" should round out the top five with $6.3 million.

    Kumail Nanjiani's "The Big Sick" is entering the top ten as it expands toward wide release, starting next Friday. From 326 North American theaters this weekend the movie should make $3.7 million. Sofia Coppola's "The Beguiled" should stay in the top ten as it, too, expands. This weekend it's expected to make $2.1 million from 941 locations. Meanwhile, A24's "A Ghost Story" starring Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck should spook $105,000 from four locations during its opening frame.

    Overall, the summer box office stands at about $2.3 billion, or 8% lower than last year. That leaves the year overall about dead even with 2016 after movies like "Beauty and the Beast," "Logan," "Get Out" and "The Fate of the Furious" laid a strong foundation for the summer during the early part of the calendar year.

    "Despite the strength of 'Spider-Man: Homecoming,' yet another 'down' weekend puts us dead even with last year's box office pace as we remain down 8% for the summer," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at ComScore. "The silver lining is the expected continued strength of Spidey, plus 'War For The Planet of The Apes,' 'Dunkirk,' and 'Atomic Blonde' all in rapid succession that could fuel a much-needed late summer renaissance at the multiplex."

  9. Are Audiences Done With the 'Despicable Me' Franchise?

    If you're like millions of other movie fans around the United States, you celebrated July 4th weekend by going to the multiplex to see a film not made with American audiences in mind.

    Probably, that movie was "Despicable Me 3," which topped the chart with an estimated $75.4 million earned from Friday to Sunday. The fourth film in the series (if you count the prequel "Minions,") "DM3" boasted the widest domestic release ever, with 4,529 screens.

    And yet, the movie's domestic take was well below what was predicted. Most pundits guessed it would open closer to $85 million, like "Despicable Me 2" did four years ago; some predictions went as high as $100 million. Instead, "DM3" saw the weakest domestic opening since the first "Despicable Me" debuted with $56.4 million in 2010.

    Sure, you could blame the calendar. After all, July 4 falls on a Tuesday this year, so holiday-weekend moviegoing will have petered out by the time Independence Day actually arrives. Four years ago, however, it fell on a Thursday, so long-weekend momentum favored "DM2." In fact, the movie opened on Wednesday the 3rd, so it earned $59.6 million before the weekend even started, then grabbed another $83.5 million from Friday to Sunday.

    Then again, "Minions" opened two years ago on July 10, a week after the holiday, and still cleared $115.7 million in its first three days. How did the franchise's premiere-weekend drawing power drop by $40 million in two years?

    It didn't help that the new movie isn't as appealing as the first three. It has the weakest reviews of the three "Despicable" titles, both at Rotten Tomatoes (just 63 percent) and at Metacritic (with a score of just 48 out of 100). Audiences liked it more than critics did, judging by its A- CinemaScore, but they still didn't like it as much as the first three films in the franchise, which all landed A grades.
    Still, Universal is probably not complaining, since "DM3" earned an estimated $116.9 million overseas. Its worldwide total of $192.3 million is more than double the film's reported $80 million production budget. And overseas revenue accounting for 61 percent of the movie's earnings is typical for this franchise; all four films have earned more money in foreign markets than they did here.

    In fact, it's typical not just for this franchise but for most of 2017's top-earning movies -- and even for several domestic flops -- that nonetheless grossed enough overseas to make up for their poor showings here. As this column has noted in previous weeks, would-be blockbusters that underperformed here -- including "Transformers: The Last Knight," "The Mummy," and "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" -- have seen foreign ticket sales save their bacon. And for movies that have done well stateside -- "Wonder Woman," "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," "Fate of the Furious" -- have also made the bulk of their money abroad, with domestic earnings looking like little more than a nice bonus by comparison.

    It's the rare movie made with American viewers in mind that has stumbled at the box office. This weekend's new Will Ferrell/Amy Poehler comedy "The House" couldn't muster better than a sixth-place debut, and it couldn't even match modest predictions that had it premiering in the low teens, opening instead with just an estimated $9.0 million. It's the worst wide-release opening since 1998's "A Night at the Roxbury," when Ferrell began his big-screen career as a leading man. Even that film, based on the "SNL" sketch, managed a $9.6 million premiere, and that was at 1998 ticket prices.

    Comedies do notoriously poorly abroad, due to language barriers and cultural differences. About the only reason Hollywood keeps making them is that they tend to be cheap enough to make back their budgets on domestic earnings alone. But this summer has seen several comedies struggle to connect with homegrown viewers, including "Snatched,""Baywatch," and "Rough Night."

    American audiences seem to be tired of raunchy, R-rated comedies. It's possible that the wave of movies about grown-ups acting like frat kids, a cycle that started with 2009's "The Hangover," is finally played out creatively and commercially. Of course, all of these recent R-rated comedy flops, including "The House," were poorly reviewed and generated lackluster word-of-mouth. If there was a good original movie aimed at American adults, they might actually pay to see it in theaters.
    Exhibit A: "Baby Driver," which debuted this weekend in second place with an estimated $21.0 million from Friday to Sunday, a promising start given some early predictions that it wouldn't crack $20 million. (Sony was smart enough to open it on Wednesday, so its domestic total is already an estimated $30.0 million.)

    That's a pretty nice sum for a movie based on an original story, from writer-director Edgar Wright, with a leading man (Ansel Elgort) who's never carried a picture at the box office on his own. It helps that the movie's been riding a wave of hype ever since 2017's SXSW festival in the spring, and that both critics and audiences have raved about it. As a result, adults flocked to the film; 54 percent of its audience is older than 25.

    Despite a British director and leading lady (Lily James), the action/crime caper seems to have been made with American audiences in mind. Indeed, it's only earned an estimated $6.8 million abroad. With any luck, it'll last long enough in theaters to make back its reported $34 million budget, plus marketing and distribution expenses. If it does, most of that return will come from American ticket sales.

    If it doesn't, $34 million isn't that big a risk for a studio used to spending nine-figure sums on would-be blockbusters. But it's pretty rare for a distributor to pay that much for a movie with primarily domestic appeal. "Cars 3" is an exception. Disney spent a reported $170 million to make it, even though the "Cars" movies do appeal more to Americans than foreign audiences. But Disney will more than make up for the movie's weak box office with billions in toy sales, for which "Cars 3" is just a glorified infomercial.

    Same goes for "The LEGO Batman Movie," an $80 million toy ad that made 57 percent of its haul in North America, though it also grossed enough at the box office both here and abroad to earn a profit from ticket sales alone.

    But big-budget or small-budget, Hollywood movies that succeed by appealing mostly to American audiences are becoming such a rarity that such recent examples as "Get Out" and "Hidden Figures" look like flukes. For the most part, Hollywood would prefer to celebrate Independence Day (and every other weekend) by releasing movies dependent on foreign audiences.

  10. Here's Why 'Transformers: The Last Knight' Is a Box Office Disappointment

    "Transformers: The Last Knight" had the box office all to itself this weekend, and yet, even without any other new wide releases, it still failed to impress.

    True, most movies would kill for an opening weekend estimated at $45.3 million, or a five-day total (the movie opened Wednesday) estimated at $69.0 million. Indeed, that's just about where pundits expected the franchise's fifth installment to debut.

    But the "Transformers" -- and director Michael "I demand things to be awesome!" Bay -- have higher standards. After all, the last installment, 2014's "Transformers: Age of Extinction," premiered with a $100.0 million first weekend. "Last Knight" marks the lowest debut in the series' ten-year history.

    This is more bad news for Paramount this year -- the studio is in a costly slump due to such expensive flops as "Monster Trucks," "Ghost in the Shell," and "Baywatch" -- as well as for the franchise and its director. Critics have never liked these movies, but now, everyone else seems to be getting tired of the giant-robot films, even Bay, who's all but insisted that "Last Knight" will be his last "Transformers" movie.

    And yet, there's reason for Paramount to celebrate (just a little) -- and reason for it to go ahead with its Bumblebee spinoff due next year: Overseas box office.
    The "Transformers" movies may have seen diminishing returns in North America, but they just keep getting bigger abroad. "Age of Extinction" was the first film in the series to earn more than a billion worldwide. But while "Extinction" saw domestic earnings plummet from "Dark of the Moon's" $352 million to $245 million, it saw foreign earnings vault from $771 million to $859 million. So the overseas take now accounts for three-quarters of the franchise's ticket sales.

    That figure has held with the release of the new movie, which has already earned an estimated $196.2 million abroad. $123.4 million of that, or 63 percent, comes from China -- which is insane. That marks the franchise's largest opening ever in the Middle Kingdom and the fourth-biggest debut in history for a Hollywood film in China. It's no wonder that China is now the linchpin to the success of virtually every Hollywood blockbuster.

    At a reported production cost of $217 million (before an aggressive and costly marketing spend), "Last Knight" was an expensive movie to make. But with $265.3 million earned in its first five days, the movie could find its way to profitability, once all revenue streams are accounted for -- even after you account for marketing and distribution costs (more than $100 million) and the theater owners' share of the grosses (about half).
    That worldwide success means a lot to Paramount, a studio that's lost money in recent years. In 2016 alone, it claimed a stunning loss of $445 million, about a fourth of which came from writing off "Monster Trucks" as a flop four months before it opened. Yikes.

    Even so, despite a slate of movies that fizzled at the domestic box office in 2017, overseas grosses are slowly helping put Paramount back into the black. "Rings," "xXx: Return of Xander Cage," and "Baywatch" all looked like flops based on their North American earnings, but they all made a ton of money elsewhere, with somewhere between 58 and 87 percent of their sales coming from abroad. "Rings" and "xXx" ultimately earned back several times their cost in worldwide grosses, while "Baywatch" has earned back twice its cost and may well be profitable by the end of the summer.

    Reviving old franchises -- and mining the vault and Viacom partners for new ones -- is a priority for Paramount, which lacks many of them. So far, their current franchises are "Transformers," "Star Trek," and "Mission: Impossible," all of which are aging fast. Until the studio comes up with some new ones -- "Baywatch" sequel, anyone? -- it's going to have to make do with these. No wonder there are three more "Transformers" movies in the works, including Bumblebee's spinoff.
    Even without Bay, they should make money -- not just from foreign sales, but from merchandising. New Paramount chief Jim Gianopulos says he wants to make more movies based on Hasbro toys; besides "Transformers," Hasbro playthings have also yielded the "G.I. Joe" films for Paramount, as well as the successful "Ouija" horror series at Universal. (Meanwhile, let's all pretend that massive duds "Battleship" and "Jem and the Holograms" never happened.)

    It's worth noting that all the other studios are using the same foreign-dependent strategy. Lots of 2017 movies that underwhelmed domestically, including Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" and Universal's "The Mummy," have raked it in abroad. (This is why Johnny Depp and Tom Cruise get to keep starring in movies, despite the meh response to their films in America.)

    Even this year's biggest domestic hits, including "Beauty and the Beast," "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," and "Wonder Woman," have earned the majority of their money overseas. In fact, among the top ten domestic hits of 2017, only two, "The LEGO Batman Movie" and "Get Out," earned more here than abroad.

    Still, it's sort of funny that Paramount added Anthony Hopkins to the "Transformers" ensemble in "Last Knight," as if the venerable Oscar-winning actor's presence would bring in older or more highbrow audiences. As the scathing reviews (just 15 percent at Rotten Tomatoes), the unenthusiastic word-of-mouth (a tepid B+ from CinemaScore), and the weak domestic box office numbers suggest, "Transformers" isn't bringing in any new fans, at least not in the U.S.

    But if you're one of those core fans, congratulations: your fandom will be rewarded by at least three more installments in the "Transformers" universe. And if you're an American or Canadian who's not a fan -- well, these movies weren't made for you. Few Hollywood movies are -- or will be, going forth.

  11. Box Office: 'Transformers' Crashes With Franchise's Lowest Opening Ever

    By Seth Kelley

    LOS ANGELES, June 25 (Variety.com) -- It seems the "Transformers" franchise is rusty.

    As of Sunday morning "Transformers: The Last Knight," the fifth installment directed by Michael Bay, looks to bring in $69.1 million from 4,069 domestic locations during its five-day opening weekend. That's a franchise low for the sequel from Paramount and Hasbro, behind the first in the modern series, which earned $70.5 million in 2007. "The Last Knight" carries an estimated $217 million production budget.

    This makes "Transformers: The Last Knight" the latest summer blockbuster to bank on overseas ticket sales to have a shot at turning a profit. In China, the big-budget action sequel made $41 million in its opening day alone. The projected international cume through Sunday is $196.2 million, powered by $123.4 million in China.

    "The Last Knight" comes at a time when Paramount could have used an all-around hit, following recent misses "Baywatch" and "Ghost in the Shell." While the latest "Transformers" movie has been advertised as "the final chapter" and Bay's last go-around, the franchise will continue — Paramount has at least two more movies slated, including a spinoff that could star Hailee Steinfeld. The franchise has historically been massively profitable and seen solid multiples for the studio. Together, the first four earned over $1.3 billion domestically and well over $3.5 billion worldwide.

    The latest take on the series centers on an alliance between Bumblebee, Cade Yeager — who Mark Wahlberg also played in 2014's "Age of Extinction" — and roles played by franchise newcomers Anthony Hopkins and Laura Haddock. Together, the team works together to save the world. Audiences have earned the film a B+ CinemaScore, while critics have mostly dismissed it — it currently holds a 15% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

    "The Last Knight" was uncontested at the box office this weekend, but a few indie releases showed traction. Sofia Coppola's "The Beguiled" remake from Focus Features played at four theaters this weekend, and should gross $240,545 with a strong per screen average before it expands to over 500 locations next weekend.

    "We're thrilled by this opening," said Lisa Bunnell, Focus Features' distribution president. "This is Focus' third collaboration with Sofia and she's created an entertaining, atmospheric thriller featuring strong female representation in front of and behind the camera."

    And Kumail Nanjiani's critically adored romantic comedy "The Big Sick" should earn $435,000 during its opening weekend in five locations — that would give the Lionsgate and Amazon Studios release the highest per screen average of any film that has opened this year so far.

    "Kumail and Emily's true story provided audiences of all ages a much-needed alternative to the summer blockbusters," said Bob Berney, Amazon Studios' distribution chief.

    Otherwise, "Wonder Woman" continues to post impressive numbers, and holds onto second place during its fourth weekend in theaters. This weekend, it should earn an additional $25.2 million, bringing its domestic total to $318.4 million. Earlier this week, the film became the highest-grossing live-action movie to be directed by a woman — a major distinction for Patty Jenkins.

    Disney and Pixar's "Cars 3" also looks to earn $25.2 million domestically during its second weekend. Some estimates have the film slightly lower, just below $25 million. The family film, which won last weekend's box office, is expected to pass the $100 million mark in North America by Monday.

    "Transformers: The Last Knight's" performance is a tough break for the summer box office's bottom line domestically. For the past two years, this weekend has seen monster grosses for "Jurassic World" and "Finding Dory." Now, attention is turned toward a trio of releases next weekend, as the box office hopes for a shot in the arm from "Despicable Me 3," "Baby Driver," and "The House."

  12. How 'Cars 3' and 'All Eyez on Me' Brought Audiences Back to the Movies

    Cars 3If you've been feeling ignored by Hollywood lately -- if you haven't found a movie at the theater that feels targeted toward you and your demographic -- then this should have been the weekend for you.

    Sure, on the surface, this looked like a typical summer weekend, with one high-profile new release from one of the season's usual heavy-hitters (in this case, Pixar, whose "Cars 3" premiered at No. 1 with an estimated $53.5 million) and a superhero holdover continuing to rake it in (that'd be "Wonder Woman," which earned a healthy estimated $40.7 million in its third weekend).

    But what you were really seeing, if you looked beyond the top two movies, was a weekend where underserved audiences finally had a reason to go to the theater. That explains the over-performances of "All Eyez on Me," the Tupac Shakur biopic that surprised in third place with an estimated $27.1 million, and "47 Meters Down," a low-budget shark-attack thriller from a newbie distributor which managed to debut in fifth place with a better-than-expected estimated of $11.5 million. It may even explain the failure of Scarlett Johansson's all-female ensemble comedy "Rough Night," which underwhelmed in its seventh-place debut with just an estimated $8.0 million opening.

    Here's who made a rare visit to the popcorn counter this weekend, and here's what they saw.

    Young Children
    You wouldn't think of them as an underserved demographic, but really, there's been nothing for them all summer; even the decidedly juvenile cartoon "Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie" has a PG-rated sense of humor that plays to older preteens and even adults. But "Cars 3" is G-rated, playing to an audience that was 75 percent families and 35 percent kids 12 and under.

    If anything, critics have grumbled that "Cars 3" may be too kid-oriented. The "Cars" franchise is the Pixar series that has the least to offer adults and is the most geared toward selling toys (more than $10 billion in merchandise over the past decade). As a possible sign that the "Cars" franchise is running out of gas creatively, "Cars 3" has the lowest opening among the trilogy and, adjusted for inflation, among all Pixar movies except "The Good Dinosaur."

    None of this matters to the young target audience, who gave the movie an A grade at CinemaScore. Meanwhile, Disney should consider itself fortunate that it released the movie in mid-June; a couple weeks later, and "Cars 3" would have been run over by "Despicable Me 3."

    Women
    True, it's not just girls and women who are responsible for the remarkable run so far of "Wonder Woman," but it's clear that the movie speaks to them in ways that few other recent films have. So it's no surprise that the DC heroine's saga has held up better than most superhero movies. Instead of the steep drops we usually see in comic-book films after the first weekend, "Wonder Woman" dipped just 43 percent last weekend and just 30 percent this weekend. Having lassoed nearly $275 million in 17 days, "Wonder Woman" is poised to overtake "Man of Steel" ($291 million) and possibly "Suicide Squad" ($325 million) and "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" ($330 million) as the top domestic earner in the DC Extended Universe so far.

    Women were also the power behind the sleeper success of "47 Meters Down." No one expected much from the sisters-vs.-sharks tale, from new independent distributor Entertainment Studios. Neither critics nor customers thought much of the film. But women do make up the core of the horror audience, they did help make a hit of the similar "The Shallows" last year, and they like Mandy Moore, at least when she's starring on TV's "This Is Us." Scary trailers and posters helped overcome weak reviews and word-of-mouth, but the movie's strongest selling point may have been the months-long absence from the multiplex of other horror movies with strong appeal to genre's female fanbase.

    Indeed, for once, this weekend may have seen women over-served at the multiplex. Which could explain why "Rough Night," which had been widely expected to crack the top 5 and $20 million, did neither. The bachelorette-night-gone-horribly-wrong comedy had a lot of other problems -- neither critics nor audiences liked the premise; Johansson isn't much of a box office draw outside her Marvel movies; and raunchy R-rated comedies haven't done well lately. Still, reviews, word-of-mouth, and modest star power didn't hinder "47 Meters Down." More likely, "Rough Night"'s biggest problem was timing; as its target audience was all buying tickets for "Wonder Woman, "47 Meters Down," and even "Cars 3." Yep, the usually testosterone-heavy series has a girl-power message this time, one that may have helped drive women and girls toward making up 49 percent of the movie's audience.

    African-Americans
    All Eyez on MeEarly tracking suggested "All Eyez on Me" would earn just $15 to $22 million. After all, the movie had a troubled production history, it had no star power, and it got slammed by both critics and Jada Pinkett Smith, who was a lifelong friend of Tupac's. Nonetheless, audiences loved the movie, judging by its A- grade at CinemaScore. It's not going to be the kind of smash that the similar "Straight Outta Compton" was two years ago, but as a smaller sleeper hit, it still seems to be surprising the experts the same way.

    But it's also notable that there hasn't been a movie this clearly targeted toward African-Americans since "Get Out" four months ago," or "Hidden Figures" a few weeks before that. And it's also notable that, like those films, "Eyez" clearly crossed over beyond that target demographic to attract general audiences, as is apparent from the movie's success in pre-opening sales at Fandango. After all, Tupac was immensely popular among listeners and movie audiences of all colors, so it shouldn't have been a shock that his biopic would be as well.

    Americans
    Given what an afterthought the domestic market has seemed to be all year, with movies like "The Mummy" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" becoming blockbusters overseas while stumbling at home, it's refreshing to see a weekend of movies that, if not clearly aimed at the home crowd, at least took American viewers into account. "Cars 3" returns the franchise to an American setting. "Eyez" got made despite Hollywood conventional wisdom that African-American-cast movies don't do well abroad. Despite its metric-system title, "47 Meters Down" is still about American tourists. And even "Rough Night" is the sort of comedy that's said to translate poorly to foreign audiences.

    No wonder this weekend's total domestic box office was up 30 percent from last week, making this the sixth biggest weekend of the year to date. (Maybe the fourth-biggest, once final numbers come in on Monday; it's just a hair behind the weekends marked by the debuts of "Logan" and "The LEGO Batman Movie.") It's weird to think of Americans as a whole being an underserved demographic, but that's how it's been. As a corrective, this weekend's films may not have been your idea of cheeseburgers and apple pie, but they were to a lot of American moviegoers who might otherwise have stayed home.

  13. Box Office: 'Cars 3' Races Past 'Wonder Woman' to No. 1

    Cars 3 box officeBy Seth Kelley

    LOS ANGELES, June 18 (Variety.com) - This weekend featured a heated race between four new films that opened in wide release. As of Sunday morning, it appears some have fared better than others.

    The big winner is Disney and Pixar's "Cars 3," which is speeding to $53.5 million from 4,256 locations, putting it in first place. That's a lower opening than "Cars" ($60.1 million) and "Cars 2" ($66.1 million), but still enough to win the weekend. The first two "Cars" movies combined have made more than $435 million in the U.S. and $1 billion globally. The "Cars" films are far from Disney and Pixar's highest earners, but "Cars 3" is another example that even a decent opening for the duo is a victory in the big picture.

    The movie comes from director Brian Fee, who was a storyboard artist on the first two "Cars" films, as well as "Ratatouille" and "Wall-E." The ensemble voice cast of "Cars 3" includes Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Armie Hammer, Larry the Cable Guy, Bonnie Hunt, Nathan Fillion, Kerry Washington, and Lea DeLaria.

    "Cars 3" bumps "Wonder Woman" out of first place, but the super hero movie continues to show strong. With an estimated $40.7 million from 4,018 locations, the Warner Bros. and DC Comics film is seeing another extremely low drop of 32% from last weekend.

    Otherwise, Tupac biopic "All Eyez on Me" from Lionsgate and Summit is beating out expectations with an estimated $27.1 million from 2,471 locations. Demetrius Shipp Jr. plays the mythologized rapper. Benny Bloom -- who has two feature films and a long list of music videos on his resume -- directed the film that explores Shakur's origins, rise, and imprisonment. The release date aligns with what would have been Shakur's 46th birthday.

    "47 Meters Down" is opening to $11.5 million from 2,270 locations. It's the first major release from Entertainment Studios, which acquired the project from its original distributor, Dimension Films. Mandy Moore and Claire Holt star as sisters who decide to go cage diving, and end up at risk of being attacked by sharks.

    Finally, "Rough Night," a raunchy, fem-centric R-rated comedy from Sony, is on track to earn only $8.1 million from 3,162 locations. The project combines the talents of director and co-writer Lucia Aniello, co-writer and actor Paul W. Downs, and star Ilana Glazer -- the three are frequent collaborators on Comedy Central's "Broad City" and "Time Traveling Bong." Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Zoe Kravitz, and Glazer make up a rowdy girl gang who reunite for a bachelorette weekend that goes horribly wrong.

    "It is genuinely a funny movie that was made at the right price, and there is a place for 'Rough Night' as summer counter-programming in the coming weeks," said Sony's distribution chief Adrian Smith.

    "Rough Night" will land in seventh for the weekend behind its fellow newcomers, "Wonder Woman," the second weekend of "The Mummy" ($13.9 million) and "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" ($8.5 million).

  14. Six Reasons 'Wonder Woman' Buried Tom Cruise's 'The Mummy' at the Box Office

    Maybe Tom Cruise would have had a bigger hit if he'd spent his movie shouting, "Show me the mummy!"

    As it turned out, Cruise's "The Mummy" did about as poorly as pundits had predicted, settling for second place with just an estimated $32.2 million. (Week-old "Wonder Woman" earned nearly twice as much, an estimated $57.2 million.) Cruise's "Mummy" opened lower than any of Brendan Fraser's three "Mummy" movies -- it's opening was less than even The Rock's spinoff, "The Scorpion King."

    Its debut also falls well below what a $125 million movie needs to open with in order to break even domestically over the course of its run. And it doesn't bode well for the "Dark Universe" franchise Universal is using the film to launch. Still, this result wasn't a huge surprise. Indeed, it reinforces several lessons that the box office has been teaching us all year. Let's use "The Mummy" to unwrap six of them.

    1. You Can't Force a Franchise Down Audience's Throats
    Studios want Marvel's success, they just don't want to wait for it or due the legwork audiences expect to earn it.

    After the box office successes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, every Hollywood studio wants a universe. But universes tend to evolve organically. Willing one into being is a tricky thing to pull off, even if you're working from familiar and popular characters, as Warner Bros. discovered last month with "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword."

    In the case of Universal's Dark Universe, this is the third time in the last 13 years that the studio has attempted to generate a universe of new films based on its classic monster-movie properties. Hasn't worked out well so far, unless you're one of the handful of moviegoers with fond memories of "Van Helsing" or "Dracula Untold." Yes, there is (limited) potential for the future Dark Universe installments, including an "Invisible Man" with Johnny Depp, a likely "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" starring Russell Crowe's "Mummy" character, and a "Bride of Frankenstein" from "Beauty and the Beast" director Bill Condon (whose deep understanding of Universal's old Frankenstein movies is clear from his 1998 drama "Gods and Monsters").

    But its still not clear what these monster tales have to do with one another, aside from being based on the studio's old intellectual property. That's not a good enough reason for moviegoers to appreciate the Dark Universe as a brand.

    2. Horror Isn't Always an Easy Sell
    Already this year, we've seen M. Night Shyamalan resurrect his career with "Split," and we've seen "Get Out" surprise everyone by becoming a massive hit with its unlikely blend of horror and social satire.

    At the same time, we've seen established horror and action-horror franchises ("Rings," "Underworld: Blood Wars," "Resident Evil: The Final Chapter") stall without reaching $30 million domestically. Even this weekend, we saw critics go wild for "It Comes at Night" (it scored an 86 percent "Fresh" at Rotten Tomatoes) only to find that audiences hated it (they gave it a D at CinemaScore), resulting in a premiere estimated at only $6.0 million, about 40 percent below what the independent horror film was expected to earn. The short version is: outside of producer Jason Blum, no one seems to know which scary movies audiences will buy and which ones they'll avoid.

    3. Timing Is Everything
    Even with a female mummy, Universal's monster movie didn't have anywhere near the girl-power quotient of "Wonder Woman." It was a given that the gauze-wrapped stiff would have stiff competition from the DC heroine, but "Wonder Woman" has proven to have stronger legs than even Warner Bros. hoped for.

    Most superhero movies drop more than 50 percent in their second weekend, but after last weekend's record-smashing $103 million debut, "Wonder Woman" fell just 45 percent this weekend -- one the best-ever drops for a comic book movie. Plus, Cruise's would-be blockbuster also had to face off against the more family-friendly "Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie" (the cartoon took in an estimated $12.3 million in its second week) and the still-strong "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" (which grabbed another estimated $6.2 million in its sixth week). So the general PG-13 audience "The Mummy" was going for had a lot of other options, most of them better reviewed. And more worth their time and money.

    4. Stop Making Bad Movies, Hollywood
    Yeah, about those reviews: "The Mummy" has a deserved 17 percent "Rotten" at RT. The new school of thought is that, while few young moviegoers read reviews, their aggregate scores compiled by RT can still scare potential ticketbuyers, especially when those low scores are presented at online points of purchase like Fandango. Unlike "It Comes at Night," audiences tended to agree with critics about "The Mummy," judging by the meh B- grade moviegoers gave it at CinemaScore.

    5. Star Power Has Limits
    As Depp discovered with the new "Pirates," not even returning to your most celebrated role guarantees you a stellar premiere. So it is with Cruise, who's had a hard time over the past decade or so luring American audiences to any movie that doesn't have "Mission: Impossible" in the title.

    Yes, male action stars seem to enjoy longer career runs than ever now, but Cruise and co-star Russell Crowe, like Depp, are in their 50s now, and time marches on.

    6. "The Mummy" Is More for International Audiences, But That Likely Won't Save It
    The domestic flop has earned $141.8 million abroad, more than four times what it's earned in the states. (But the film still may not break even with the help of international fans.)

    Cruise, like Depp, continues to be immensely popular among foreign audiences, which is why "The Mummy," "Pirates," and many other releases this year are making some studio accountants happy despite low domestic grosses.

    If you, an American ticketbuyer, didn't think much of "The Mummy," well, you were never the target audience anyway. So don't think for a moment that the new monster movie's dollar shortage in North America is going to put the slightest dent in Cruise's career, but the jury is still out on whether or not we ever see this Dark Universe happen at the scale -- and success -- Universal wishes.

  15. Box Office: 'Wonder Woman' Repeats Box Office Victory, Tom Cruise's 'The Mummy' Misfires

    Different weekend, similar story: "Wonder Woman" is box office royalty.

    The Warner Bros. and DC Comics standalone will have earned $57.2 million from 4,165 theaters by the end of its second weekend, putting it solidly in first place. That's only a 45% drop from its opening weekend, giving the film an estimated $205 million domestically in two weekends.

    The Gal Gadot-starrer will also make more during its second frame than did both "Suicide Squad" and "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," despite those films having larger opening weekends than "Wonder Woman" ($133.7 million for "Suicide Squad" and $166 million for "Batman v Superman"). Unlike those two films, Patty Jenkins' has critical support -- a current 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.

    Universal's "The Mummy," meanwhile is counting on a strong overseas total to make up for less impressive domestic earnings. As of Sunday morning, the film is eyeing $32.2 million from 4,035 locations. That's a slow start for the film intended to launch an extended universe of monster-related titles. Overseas it looks to fare better with $141.8 million, lifting its anticipated global take to $174 million.

    "We would love to see more gross domestically," said Nick Carpou, Universal's president of domestic distribution, who asserted that "a lot of the attention that 'The Mummy' garnered here, aggregated to the international total." Carpou cited the 75-foot-tall sarcophagus unveiled at the intersection of Hollywood and Highland, and the movie's VR experience as potential buzz generators.

    Alex Kurtzman directed "The Mummy," a revival of the franchise spawned by Universal's 1932 original and re-popularized by Stephen Sommers' 1999 fright-fest starring Brendan Fraser, and the three other Mummy films that followed. In the 2017 update, Cruise plays a freelance treasure hunter who resurrects a princess (Sofia Boutella). Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, and Russell Crowe are also in the mix.

    "The Mummy" was announced as the kick-off to a "Dark Universe" of monster movies. 2014's "Dracula Untold," it turns out, is not canon. The studio that was built on classics including "Dracula," "The Wolf Man," and "Frankenstein" has already slated a "Bride of Frankenstein" movie for 2019 with half a dozen or so others in the works.

    "Every movie is it's own DNA," Duncan Clark, Universal's president of international distribution commented about the "Dark Universe." "It's not about which one went first." Clark said "Bride of Frankenstein" is on deck, and there are "others in place."

    Cruise mostly recently opened "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back" to a $22.9 million domestic opening, "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation" to $55.5 million, and "Edge of Tomorrow" to $28.9 million. Cruise with reunite with "Edge" director Doug Liman for Universal's "American Made." The studio dropped the trailer for the crime-centric action biopic on Monday, presumably a strategic move to get audiences excited about its star.

    But that couldn't save "The Mummy" from having the lowest domestic opening of any in the recent iteration of the franchise -- 1999's "The Mummy," ($43.3 million); 2001's "The Mummy Returns," ($68.1 million); 2002's "The Scorpion King," ($36.1 million); 2008's "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor," ($40.5 million).

    Rotten Tomatoes was blamed for "Baywatch's" Memorial Day weekend flop, but it wasn't enough to save two new wide releases this weekend in A24's "It Comes At Night" and Bleecker Street's "Megan Leavey." Both films won over the critical consensus -- "It Comes At Night" at 86% fresh, and "Megan Leavey" at 80% -- but are lacking so far in box office receipts. A24's horror release will scare up $6 million from 2,533, which is fine for the low price tag, but below expectations. "Leavey," meanwhile, is earning a mere $1.9 million from 1,956, making it a complete dud.

    In limited release, "My Cousin Rachel" is tracking to break $1 million from 523 locations. And "Beatriz at Dinner" from Roadside Attractions is gobbling up $139,000 from only five spots.

    Landing in third overall, "Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie" from Fox should take in an additional $12.3 million from 3,529 locations -- that's only a 48% drop from last weekend. Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" will sail to fourth with an additional $10.7 million from 3,679 theaters. The franchise's fifth starring Johnny Depp now has over $600 million worldwide. "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" will round out the top five for the weekend with $6.2 million from 2,911 locations. The studio is scaling back on domestic locations for both "Pirates" and "Guardians" by about 500 apiece.

  16. 6 Ways 'Wonder Woman' Shattered Box Office Records

    How many DC and Marvel superheroes can dance on the head of a pin?

    Dunno, but let's leave those arguments to the fanbases on both sides. They can crunch the numbers behind the record-breaking debut of "Wonder Woman" this weekend and decide what it means that the DC heroine's origin-story movie opened lower than the other movies in the DC Extended Universe but higher than many origin-story movies and even some sequels in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (Take that, Captain America.)

    What's important is that "Wonder Woman" defied early predictions by cracking the $100 million glass ceiling in its first three days. Its estimated $103.1 million debut is the largest ever for a movie directed by a woman, for a movie about a superheroine, and for a female-protagonist comic-book adaptation. It's also the sixth largest June opening of all time and the 16th biggest superhero-movie debut ever.

    Here are the ways "Wonder Woman" defied the odds and lassoed the gold.

    1. Fans Really Wanted to See It
    If anything, the movie may have benefited from the fact that its success seemed so unlikely. Previous attempts to make a Wonder Woman movie had failed; not even Buffy creator and future "Avengers" mastermind Joss Whedon could pull it off.

    The track record of the three previous DCEU films wasn't promising; they've all earned well, but their grim, humorless tone have made them a chore to sit through. And Warners initially projected that "Wonder Woman" would open with just $65 to $75 million. Granted, studios often lowball their own predictions so that the movie will either look like a surprise hit or at least a non-disappointment. Still, it wasn't until the past few days, once glowing reviews came out, that analysts realized the movie had the potential to do much, much better.

    2. People Really Liked the Movie
    Seems obvious, but it's hard to overstate how important this is. True, fellow DCEU movies "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" and "Suicide Squad" opened even higher despite disappointing a lot of hardcore fans, but imagine how much better they could have done if they'd had more going for them than mere FOMO.

    Look also at last month's other potential summer blockbusters-that-weren't, including "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales," "Baywatch," and Warners' own "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword." There was a simple reason audiences didn't want to waste their hard-earned money on those films. Fortunately, "WW," with its 93 percent "Fresh" Rotten Tomatoes score among critics and its great CinemaScore A grade among regular viewers, didn't have that problem.

    3. Girl Power
    Warners took great care to make sure the movie had feminist bona fides, from the star (Israeli army veteran/beauty pageant winner/"Fast & Furious" franchise alumna Gal Gadot) to the director (Patty Jenkins, who helmed Charlize Theron's Oscar-winning performance in "Monster") to the marketing campaign. That all made sense, given the character's Amazonian roots, yet it was still rare to see a Hollywood studio this determined to take the tastes of female moviegoers into account.

    And for the most part, Warners and its promotional partners among outside retailers stayed on message, to the point where buying a ticket to the movie -- and thus supporting actress-driven films and female directors -- was supposed to feel like a feminist act. The message even resonated beyond the United States, as the movie has already earned an estimated $122.5 million overseas.

    4. Males Liked It, Too
    There was some advance grumbling that the feminist bent of the film and its publicity campaign would turn off male viewers, but that didn't happen. Women did dominate the viewership, but not by much, since 48 percent of the audience had Y chromosomes. Turns out that, if you make a good comic-book movie, even one with a female lead, the fanboys will come. Who knew?

    5. Timing and No Real Competition
    It didn't hurt that "WW" was opening in the wake of the big bellyflops that marked the debuts last weekend of "Pirates" and "Baywatch." Neither movie had an ardent enough fanbase to offer much resistance when the Amazon warrior stormed the multiplex this weekend seeking summer popcorn moviegoers.

    And of course, the only other new wide release this weekend was "Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie," a superhero saga about as different from "WW" as possible. The DreamWorks cartoon, based on the popular kids' books, did very well among the under-12 crowd (which made up the majority of its audience), but while kid-ticket sales drove the superhero spoof to a $23.5 million premiere and second place, it's really not in the same league as the Justice Leaguer.

    6. Novelty
    Yes, someday, it won't be big news to see a woman hired to direct a $149 million superhero movie, or for that superhero to be a woman, or for a comic book that's been telling a woman's story for more than 75 years to finally have a stand-alone movie. But today, it's still pretty unusual. Curiosity alone over whether Warners could pull it off could have been a major draw.

  17. The Most Anticipated Movies of June 2017

    Welcome to New Release Rundown, where we run down the most anticipated movies hitting theaters in June 2017. And the winners are...

    June 2nd sees "Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie" and the hotly anticipated -- and well reviewed -- "Wonder Woman" flying into theaters.

    The following weekend bolsters up with Kate Mara war drama "Megan Leavey," the Sam Elliott drama "The Hero," and horror-thriller "Camera Obscura" all on limited release. And Tom Cruise Dark Universe kick-off movie "The Mummy" busts into the box office on June 9th

    June 16th is chock full of new releases, with tearjerker "The Book of Henry," shark-infested Mandy Moore thriller "47 Meters Down," Disney-Pixar's speedy sequel "Cars 3," R-rated party-comedy "Rough Night," and the Tupac Shakur biopic "All Eyez on Me" all new in theaters.

    The latest entry in the Transformers franchise, "Transformers: The Last Knight," gets a mid-week release on Wednesday, June 21st, while Sofia Coppola's period drama "The Beguiled," dystopian apocalypse flick "The Bad Batch," and romantic dramedy "The Big Sick" come to theaters June 23rd.

    Action-thriller "Baby Driver" revs its engine with a midweek debut on June 28th, while minion-heady three-quel "Despicable Me 3" and the Amy Poehler / Will Ferrell comedy "The House" both hit theaters on Friday, June 30th.

    Head over to Moviefone.com to watch the trailers for all the movies we mentioned, plus search showtimes and buy tickets for a theater near you!

  18. Box Office: 'Pirates of the Caribbean' Drowns 'Baywatch' Over Memorial Day Weekend

    By Seth Kelley

    LOS ANGELES, May 29 (Variety.com) - This Memorial Day weekend signals a sluggish end to a dreary summer box office start. This four-day weekend's total domestic earnings ($172.3 million) are the lowest recorded since 1999 ($142.5 million) when "Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace" opened in first place.

    The lone bright spot of this summer so far is Disney and Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" which is holding onto second place over the holiday weekend, earning an additional $25 million from 3,871 locations. Its total domestic cume stands at over $338 million, and worldwide it's made over $788 million, passing the original "Guardians" movie ($773 million worldwide).

    Disney also took the top slot this weekend with "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales," the fifth installation in the franchise starring Johnny Depp. The swashbuckling adventure picked up $77 million over the four-day weekend from 4,276 locations. However, most of the film's sales are coming from overseas markets — the title will easily pass $300 million worldwide by the weekend's end.

    Paramount's "Baywatch," however, is another story. The splashy summer comedy starring Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron, which carries a production budget well above $60 million, got only a sprinkling of audiences to buy tickets. By the end of the weekend it will have earned $23 million domestically from 3,647, far below earlier expectations.

    Fox's "Alien: Covenant," which opened to a disappointing $36 million last weekend, is sliding to fourth place with $13.15 million from 3,772 locations. Rounding out the top five, the YA adaptation "Everything, Everything" looks to have been a wise, albeit low budget, investment. The movie is in fifth place during its second weekend, and is adding $7.4 million to its total from 2,801 theaters.

    "It's crunch time for the industry after a lackluster May and a dismal Memorial weekend," said Paul Dergarabedian, Senior Media Analyst at ComScore. "The good news is that June looks to deliver the goods and no movie is better suited to lead the cavalry charge than 'Wonder Woman' later this week. The pressure is certainly on for the final three quarters of the season to get us out of this downturn."

  19. 'Pirates' and 'Baywatch' Can't Save This Summer's Crappy Box Office

    Gosh, what kind of summer are we in for when a five-quel and an adaptation of a quarter-century-old TV series can't rake it in at the box office?

    Memorial Day weekend used to be the start of the summer movie season; now it's just another warm-weather weekend where would-be blockbusters just manage to skate by.

    Take Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales." It won the weekend with an estimated $62.2 million debut from Friday to Sunday, and $76.6 million over the four-day holiday stretch. That is shy of the $80 to $100 million the film hit tracking with weeks ago.

    Action comedy "Baywatch" fell short of expectations as well. Despite what The Rock says on Twitter, the numbers say that clearly critics weren't the only ones not having any of this. Pundits -- and Paramount -- had originally predicted somewhere near $40 million for the three-day span, and close to $60 million for the holiday. Instead, its three-day debut was just an estimated $18.1 million, settling for third place behind "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," which managed to pull in almost $20 million even though it's been in theaters for four weeks. It's looking at a four-day holiday weekend of $22 million, which kills any plans for this would-be franchise.
    "Pirates" is another victim of franchise fatigue. The third installment, "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," did more than twice the business on Memorial Day a decade ago. In fact, the $139.8 million it debuted with in 2007 remains a Memorial Day weekend record. Nearly four years later, in May 2011, "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" opened to $90 million. Six years after that, the franchise seems to be suffering a serious case of diminishing returns.

    But then, that's typical for what's been a soggy summer so far at the box office. "Guardians" has been the only highlight; no other summer 2017 release has yet earned as much as the new "Pirates" did in just three days. Last May, hits like "Captain America: Civil War," "X-Men: Apocalypse," and "The Angry Birds Movie" helped kick off the summer with a $926 million month; this May is on track to trail that amount by $200 million or more.

    What lessons can we learn from this weekend's wide-release debuts? Here are four:

    1. Know Your Audience, Hollywood
    In the case of "Pirates," the audience seems to be aging along with the franchise. Some 63 percent of the new movie's audience was over 25. For a brand as tied-in with merchandising and theme-park rides as "Pirates," the films really need to attract a younger, toy-buying audience.

    For "Baywatch," the filmmakers and marketers made the curious choice of targeting women more than men, emphasizing the eye-candy provided by the male lifeguards, Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron. This, even though the old "Baywatch" show targeted a male audience by squeezing actresses like Pamela Anderson into those famous one-piece red swimsuits. Then again, who under 25 even remembers the show?

    The filmmakers apparently figured that, to update it for the big screen, they had to treat "Baywatch" with irreverence and turn it into a raunchy, R-rated comedy that old-school fans wouldn't recognize, a trick that worked with "21 Jump Street." But the new "Baywatch" seemed designed to the old fans without giving them, or the young males who tend to drive summer movie traffic, something to look at. So, then, who was this movie for?

    2. Few Movies Are Critic-Proof Anymore
    Over the past 15 years, the internet has so devalued movie criticism that there are hardly enough professional critics left to provide a decent sample for a Rotten Tomatoes rating. And yet, it's also the internet, through online advance ticket purchase sites like Fandango, that have made that diminished critical voice powerful again. This weekend's new movies are a case in point.

    In fact, moviegoers who saw "Pirates" and "Baywatch" liked them well enough, based on the A- grade they gave the former at CinemaScore and the B+ grade they gave the latter. But to earn those grades, the movies had to attract paying customers first. And many of those who would have bought advance tickets online were likely discouraged by the negative reviews posted at the purchase sites -- just a 32 percent Rotten Tomatoes score for "Pirates" and a dismal 19 percent "Rotten" for "Baywatch." After all, the older audiences that make up the base for both films are the viewers who still care what critics think.

    Studios would rather have no reviews than reviews like these. (Indeed, that's why they often release horror movies without screening them for critics.) But until the studios figure out how to do without the publicity value of advance reviews -- or until the last newspaper lays off the last movie critic -- they're going to have to live with reviews that influence at least some ticketbuyers at the point of purchase.

    3. Star Power Has Limits
    Stars can still sell tickets, but only in the right role. Johnny Depp has been on a cold streak for a few years now, but residual good will that fans have for Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow helps explain why the new "Pirates" did the level of business it did..

    On the other hand, not even a star as likable as Johnson was able to sell the confused new "Baywatch." He does well in straight action and action-comedy roles, but anything more complex, or more mature than PG-13, is a tough sell to his base. That's why "Baywatch" was his lowest wide-release premiere since 2013, when he released the R-rated "Pain and Gain" (to a $20.2 million debut) and the convoluted thriller "Snitch" ($13.2 million).

    4. There's Still Hope For the Summer -- But Not Much
    Some of that is riding on the bare shoulders of "Wonder Woman," who could start rescuing the summer box office next weekend. Most of it, however, comes from overseas audiences. After all, the last "Pirates" was the lowest-grossing of the four movies at home (just $241 million) but the highest grossing abroad ($805 million).

    Like that last "Pirates," the new one is also earning 77 percent of its take from foreign viewers; it's already snatched $208.4 million outside of the United States and Canada. At a reported production budget of $230 million (plus a likely similar number for marketing), it'll have to gross about $1 billion worldwide (before the theater owners take their cut) for this "Pirates" to break even, but "On Stranger Tides" managed to do so, and that was at 2011 ticket prices. (It's more likely that this installment will fall short of that goal and bank $800 to $900 million worldwide.)

    As for "Baywatch," it's earned less than $1 million overseas so far, but Paramount has to be counting on foreign viewers to rescue it, too. The show, after all, was an even bigger hit globally than in America, and Johnson's movies tend to earn at least two-thirds of their take abroad. Certainly, it won't be domestic audiences that help the movie recoup its reported $60 to $69 million budget.

    Next time, if Hollywood wants the numbers to paint a better -- and more profitable -- picture, they should try making good movies that are worth people's time and money.

  20. Here's Why 'Alien: Covenant' Is a Box Office Disappointment

    If you saw "Alien: Covenant" this weekend, you probably have a lot of questions. Some involve plot holes big enough to pilot the Covenant colony spaceship through, and some involve whether or not you'll ever be able to get the image of Michael Fassbender kissing Michael Fassbender out of your head. (Or if you even want to.)

    This column can't answer any of those -- sorry -- but it can answer those regarding the movie's razor-thin victory over "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" at the box office. The latest "Alien" prequel claimed an estimated $36.0 million debut, keeping "Guardians" from a three-peat at No. 1 by a margin of less than $1 million.

    Going into the weekend, "Alien's" projections were near $40 million, but a Friday to Saturday dip crushed those hopes. Still, what does this photo finish mean for the franchise, its director and stars, its studio, and a summer movie season that has hobbled out of the gate? Let's break it down.

    "Guardians" is holding up very well after three weeks; it just crossed the $300 million mark on its 17th day in theaters, and it'll almost certainly surpass the $333 million total earned by the first "Guardians" within the next several days. Plus, Ridley Scott's previous "Alien" prequel -- 2012's confusing "Prometheus" -- may have squandered a lot of the franchise's good will.
    Nonetheless, anticipation for "Covenant" was keen, reviews were good-ish (73 percent at Rotten Tomatoes), word-of-mouth was just okay (as measured by a B grade at CinemaScore), and the R-rated sci-fi/horror installment was able to deliver gore, thrills, and chills that franchise fans have come to expect over the last 38 years. Plus, it's competition among new wide releases skewed a lot younger, so it didn't have to worry about losing viewers to teen romance "Everything, Everything" or family comedy sequel "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul." No wonder people 25 and older made up 66 percent of the "Covenant" audience.

    Is "Covenant's" Opening Weekend a Triumph or Disappointment?
    The argument is leaning toward the latter.

    It's a lot less than the $51 million debut of "Prometheus," but no one expected it to open anywhere near that big anyway. After all, anticipation for "Prometheus" was even greater, since that marked the beginning of Scott's prequel series, as well as the celebrated director's return to the franchise he launched in 1979, after a 33-year absence.

    Some pundits predicted that "Covenant" would premiere with as little as $35 million, though others predicted it would open as much as $40 million. So $36 million is within the range of expectations, and -- assuming the weekend estimates hold up when final figures are released Monday -- "Covenant" will claim bragging rights as the movie that dethroned "Guardians."

    Is Katherine Waterston the Next Sigourney Weaver?
    It's not clear whether her role as the plucky "Covenant" heroine will make her as famous as the original "Alien" made the then-unknown Weaver. But certainly, Hollywood is trying its darnedest to make her a star, between this and her recent supporting-lead role in the Harry Potter franchise-reviving "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them."

    Still, in "Covenant," she has to compete for the spotlight against not just one but two Michael Fassbenders, as well as a large ensemble cast, so she's probably still a few movies away from a breakthrough role.

    Is "Covenant" Going to Make a Profit?
    That could depend on what it cost, which in turn depends on who you ask.

    Trade reports cite Fox as saying the movie cost $97 million, but the typically blunt and candid Scott has said $111 million. Both figures seem remarkably low for an effects-heavy space opera, especially since "Prometheus" cost a reported $130 million five years ago.

    Then again, Fox is reporting that "Covenant" has already earned $81.9 million overseas, so its global total of $117.9 is above even Scott's figure. Of course, once you add marketing costs and subtract the theater owners' take, "Covenant" is going to have to gross as much as $450 million just to break even.

    That's not impossible. Scott's previous "Alien" prequel grabbed $403 million from earthling ticketbuyers, and that was at 2012 prices. In any case, what will save "Covenant," like nearly every other big-budget Hollywood release this year, will be the foreign audience. The domestic release was always going to be just gravy, which is another reason why Fox shouldn't be too disappointed by $36 million North American debut.

    What Do This Weekend's Results Say About the Summer 2017 Movie Season
    Don't forget, even if domestic box office is an afterthought these days, summer sales still traditionally make up 40 percent of the year's take, or about $4.5 billion at the North American box office.
    The current summer movie season is just three weeks old, but already, it's seen "Covenant" do "meh" business, "Guardians 2" slightly underperform them, and "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword" bomb outright. The box office for the year to date is just slightly ahead of this time last year (by 2.4 percent, or about $102 million). That's not much of an edge; a couple more shaky debuts or massive flops and this year's box office will fall behind and struggle to catch up with previous years. There'd better be a lot of gold in Wonder Woman's lasso.

    Scott has said he has at least one and as many as four ideas for future "Alien" installments. As long as the 79-year-old's health holds out, and as long as the $1.4 billion franchise keeps delivering solid worldwide numbers like "Covenant" has, those facehuggers and chestbursters should keep coming back to terrify us for years to come.

  21. Box Office: 'Alien: Covenant' Slides Past 'Guardians 2' to Win Weekend With $36 Million

    LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - As this weekend approached, the question lingered if "Alien: Covenant" would be able to unseat "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" from the top spot at the domestic box office.

    Now, we have an answer. As of Sunday morning, "Covenant," from 20th Century Fox and Scott Free Productions, looks to be the winner with a three-day estimate of $36 million (27.6 million pounds) from 3,761 locations. That's just above Disney's "Guardians" sequel which is raking in an additional $35.3 million from 4,347 spots. The super sequel is seeing only a 46% drop from last weekend, and its total domestic earnings now exceed $300 million.

    While "Alien" may have won, the film's price tag in the $100 million range and marketing costs detract from the victory. The sixth installment in the Alien franchise (not counting the two Alien vs. Predator films) was directed by Ridley Scott and stars Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, and Danny McBride. It holds a 73% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is in line with 2012's "Prometheus." Although it came in already having made $42 million overseas and $36 million was enough to land in the top slot, "Alien" grossed less during its first weekend in the U.S. than "Prometheus" did in 2012 ($51 million). Its final domestic earnings also came in below earlier projections, which pegged the horror flick at least $40 million.

    Fox's president of domestic distribution Chris Aronson chalked the lower totals compared with "Prometheus" to the "normal course of business." He added that "Alien: Covenant" gives fans of the franchise since the 1979 original the chance to share with the younger generation (60% of the opening weekend audience was in the 18-34 demo). "Teenagers likely haven't seen 'Alien,'" he said, "This movie creates a generational bond."

    While the "Alien" franchise is still able to generate decent interest, the same cannot be said for Fox's other release this weekend, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul." The fourth live-action movie based on Jeff Kinney's middle school-centric book series opened to $7.2 million from 3,157 locations. David Bowers, who directed movies two and three, returned to the helm nearly five years after the last iteration, and anointed a new titular wimp in Jason Drucker.

    The only other major release of the weekend was "Everything, Everything," from Warner Bros. and MGM. The sick-lit adaptation will earn $12 million by the end of the weekend from 2,801 locations. That's enough to land in the top three. "Hunger Games" standout Amandla Stenberg stars as a girl with an autoimmune disease that keeps her locked up indoors. Nick Robinson plays her love interest named Olly. "Everything, Everything" earned the highest CinemaScore of the new released (an A- overall). 82% of its audience was female, and 74% were under 25 years old.

    "Along with our partners, MGM, we're thrilled that we hit our key demo," commented Jeff Goldstein, domestic distribution chief at Warner Bros.

    Amy Schumer's "Snatched," also from Fox, will see an additional $7.6 million in earnings from 3,511 theaters, putting it in the fourth slot, ahead of "Wimpy Kid." Also in its second weekend, "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword" continues to flop miserably with a weekend total of less than $7 million.

    With Memorial Day weekend on the horizon, the overall domestic summer box office is ten percentage points lower than it was at this time last year. That means all eyes are fixed on a duo of splashy summer releases -- Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" and Paramount's "Baywatch" -- to hopefully make up some ground.

    "The dominance at this point by Disney and Marvel's early summer entry "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" is impressive having earned more than all the other films combined," said Paul Degarabedian, senior media analyst at ComScore, who noted that "Captain America: Civil War" accounted for more than half of the summer take at this point last year. "However, a slow start does not portend a slow overall summer as many have predicted," he added, "though if the ebb and flow of this season's fortunes thus far is any indication we may have to buckle up for a pretty bumpy ride."

  22. 6 Reasons Why 'King Arthur' Bombed at the Box Office

    While "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" was a lock to repeat at No. 1 on the box office chart this weekend, "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword" was still expected to take the second-place crown -- just barely.

    While people knew "King Arthur" wouldn't do great business, few expected it to do this bad. Warner Bros. had hoped their big-budget action epic -- plagued with four release date changes and costly reshoots -- would hit somewhere in the $20 to $25 million range. Instead, it eked out an estimated $14.7 million.

    This weekend's other wide release, raunchy mother-daughter comedy "Snatched," opened with an underwhelming (but decent) $17.5 million. For a movie that cost a reported $175 million to make -- and was supposed to launch a series of six movies about the ruler of Camelot -- it's opening is far from promising. Here are six reasons why "King Arthur" became 2017's first major flop:

    1. No One Wanted This Movie
    You'd think a familiar, public-domain property like King Arthur would be an easy sell. And yet, since 1980, there have been about half a dozen attempts to reboot Arthur's legend on the big screen, and only 1981's "Excalibur" was a sizable hit. Then again, familiarity could be the problem; besides the theatrical films, there have been many TV Arthurs, few of them memorable. Why spend money to go see yet another Arthur pull that sword out of the stone? And the marketing didn't show audiences anything they haven't seen before, or couldn't see again if they stayed home and watched "Game of Thrones" instead.

    2. Guy Ritchie = Style Over Substance
    Sure, Guy Ritchie successfully put his modern-London-street-thug spin on "Sherlock Holmes" and made a fortune with that reboot. But he also lost a fortune on his adaptation of 1960s TV spy series "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." -- like "King Arthur," another big-budget reboot that no one asked for.

    Let's face it, Ritchie is an acquired taste, with a hit-and-miss résumé (maybe Warner Bros. has forgotten that he directed "Swept Away," but critics and connoisseurs of laughably awful movies haven't). Is he really the guy you want to risk a $175 million budget and a potential new franchise on? (If we were Disney, we'd be worried about our live-action remake of "Aladdin," to be directed by Ritchie.)

    3. Charlie Hunnam Is Not a Movie Star
    Hollywood has spent a decade and a half trying to make an A-list leading man out of Charlie Hunnam, with little success so far.

    Even with all the positive buzz he's received for his other current starring role, in indie adventure "The Lost City of Z," the "King Arthur" star is still probably better known among the cult fans of his TV series "Sons of Anarchy" than for his movies. He's certainly no Robert Downey Jr., who deserves much of the credit for the box office success of Ritchie's "Sherlock Holmes" movies.

    Maybe Amy Schumer isn't a proven box office draw either, but then, "Snatched" is only her second lead role. Still, her first, 2015's "Trainwreck," opened with $30.6 million. Her co-star, Goldie Hawn, hasn't made a movie in 15 years, but she did score several big hits in the 1980s and '90s, and she still has a lot of residual goodwill from her half-century as a comic leading woman.

    4. The Studio
    Warner Bros. desperately wants to be in the blockbuster franchise business, to the near exclusion of all other kinds of movies.

    It has the DC superhero films, the "LEGO" movies, and the recently revived Harry Potter universe movies (relaunched last fall with "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them"), but not much else. That's why it gambled so much in recent years on potential franchise launchers like "Pan," "U.N.C.L.E.", "The Legend of Tarzan," and now "King Arthur."

    Unfortunately, "King Arthur" also bears the fingerprints of a lot of desperate studio tinkering. Over the past eight years, Warners had several competing Arthur projects in development until Ritchie's won out. Since then, Warners has changed the title of his film once, changed the release date four times (it was initially supposed to come out last July, when it would have been clobbered by the likes of "Star Trek Beyond" and even "Ghostbusters"), and scrapped a planned IMAX version.

    Releasing "King Arthur" in the shadow of "Guardians" may not have been the wisest move either, but at least the film will have all summer to try to recoup its budget. And at least the studio didn't further signal its ambivalence about the film by dumping it in August.

    5. Bad Reviews, Worse Buzz
    Still, critics' knowledge of the movie's troubled production history may have colored their reviews and may be part of the reason why "King Arthur" scored a dismal 27 percent at Rotten Tomatoes. Not that "Snatched" did much better (just 36 percent).

    Nonetheless, to the extent that the R-rated "Snatched" targeted an older audience that still reads criticism, the fact that it was the better reviewed of this weekend's two new wide releases gave it a slight edge over "King Arthur."

    6. The Genre
    Just as there have already been a lot of male-oriented action movies this year and only a handful of women-powered releases, there have also been very few live action comedies in wide release so far in 2017. "Snatched" is only the fifth. Multiplex audiences looking for laughs who want something more mature than "The Boss Baby" (and maybe a little less mature than "Going in Style") currently have just "Snatched" and "How to Be a Latin Lover" to choose from. "Latin Lover," however, is three weeks old and is playing in only a third as many theaters as "Snatched."

    For all its weaknesses, "Legend of the Sword" could still end up with a small victory thanks to overseas audiences. After all, comedies don't translate well (which is why "Snatched" has earned just an estimated $3.2 million abroad), but action movies do.

    Looking back on other Round Table movies, the Warners accountants must have noticed this about the most recent one, the 2004 "King Arthur" that starred Clive Owen: while it earned just $51.9 million here, it earned $151.7 million abroad.

    In fact, "Legend of the Sword" is also doing much better in foreign markets than it is in America, having earned an estimated $29.1 million overseas. Of course, there's still a long uphill climb to profitability from that $43.8 million global total so far. If foreign audiences respond to "Legend of the Sword" the way they did to the 2004 "King Arthur" -- or, for that matter, the way they did to "Legend of Tarzan," which earned $230.1 million abroad -- Hunnam's Arthur may not have bombed in vein.

  23. Box Office: 'Guardians 2' Repeats No. 1, 'King Arthur' Is Summer's First Big Flop

    box officeBy Seth Kelley

    LOS ANGELES, May 14 (Variety.com) - "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" continued its box office reign this weekend, while "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword" is the summer season's first major flop.

    Disney and Marvel's super hero sequel followed up its $145 million opening weekend domestically with an additional $66 million from 4,347 locations. That's a 55% drop, which is in line with expectations. The film's domestic total is now just shy of $250 million.

    "King Arthur," meanwhile, may just want to put that sword back where he found it and pretend this never happened. The release from Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow made only $14.7 million from 3,702 locations -- a paltry sum considering its $175 million production budget.

    The mythical epic starring Charlie Hunnam in the titular role was critically drubbed (it currently has a 27% on Rotten Tomatoes), but has a relatively high B+ CinemaScore. Director Guy Ritchie had success with a similar re-imagining of longstanding franchise with 2009's "Sherlock Holmes" and its sequel "A Game of Shadows" which both grossed over $500 million worldwide. More recently, though, his spin on "Man From U.N.C.L.E." saw a disappointing take ($110 million globally) despite achieving a bit of a cult and critical following.

    This weekend's over major release is neither a box office heavyweight like "Guardians" nor a bust like "Arthur." Fox's "Snatched," starring Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn as a mother and daughter grabbed $17.5 million from 3,501 theaters, landing it in second overall. The Mother's Day release has been less than adored by critics (from whom it has collectively earned a 36% on Rotten Tomatoes), but audiences have earned it a more positive B CinemaScore. The mid-budget, R-rated comedy was produced by Chernin Entertainment and Feigco Entertainment.

    Universal's "The Fate of the Furious" and Fox's "Boss Baby" round out the top five. The former tacked on an additional $5.3 million from 3,067 locations this weekend, raising its domestic total to $215 million. The latter earned $4.6 million from 2,911 locations for grand total of $162.7 million after seven frames.

    One limited release managed to break into the top ten as Blumhouse's Tilt label put out "Lowrider" in 295 locations. The film, toplined by Demian Bichir, Gabriel Chavarria, and Theo Rossi, over-performed with $2.4 million, putting it in the eighth slot overall.

  24. 'Beauty and the Beast' Dethrones 'Finding Dory' as Top-Grossing PG Movie

    "Beauty and the Beast" just keeps swimming at the box office, and it just swam past the PG-rated record set by "Finding Dory."

    So far, Emma Watson's Disney darling has made $488 million at the domestic box office, and $1.19 billion worldwide. Meanwhile, the previous U.S. record holder for a PG movie, Disney/Pixar's "Finding Dory," earned $486.3 million domestically, and $1.03 billion globally.

    However, Variety noted that "Beauty" has yet to pass "Frozen" at the worldwide box office. "Frozen" still has the international record with $1.28 billion. Then again, "Beauty" just opened in the past couple of months, and it's still making a strong showing overseas, so it has a good chance to pass "Frozen" and set the worldwide record, in addition to the domestic one.

    According to Box Office Mojo, Disney has four of the top 10 PG films at the domestic box office: "Beauty and the Beast," "Finding Dory," "Frozen" ($400.7 million), and "The Jungle Book" ($364 million).

    "Beauty and the Beast" is currently the eighth highest-grossing movie of any rating, domestically, and the 11th highest-grossing film in the world. For the record, "The Lion King" is the top grossing G-rated movie at the domestic box office. "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" has that honor for PG-13 movies, and "The Passion of the Christ" is No. 1 for R-rated movies. "Showgirls" has the title for NC-17 titles. Read the full lists at Box Office Mojo.

    Here's a look at more PG movies opening soon. Think any of them will top "Beauty"?

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  25. Is 'Guardians Vol. 2' a Box Office Smash or Disappointment?

    When the first "Guardians of the Galaxy" came out in 2014, it was a surprise box office hit, considering how few members of the mass audience were familiar with the space epic's characters.

    Fast forward to 2017, and "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2." is an even bigger smash -- but not as big as many had predicted.

    "Guardians Vol. 2" opened this weekend with an estimated $145.0 million, making it the sixth-biggest May debut ever, and yet that number almost seems like a disappointment. Yeah, it sounds petty to grumble about such a huge figure, but then, experts had been predicting an opening at $150 -- at one point, predictions were as high as $160 million or even higher.

    Should "Guardians 2" have opened bigger? It certainly did better than the debuts of such Marvel sequels as "Iron Man 2," "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," and "Thor: The Dark World." Its 54 percent increase over the opening weekend of the first "Guardians" is the biggest percentage jump for any second film in a Marvel Cinematic Universe series.

    Still, its failure to meet its projections may make you wonder: Are the new standards of Hollywood's all-blockbusters-all-the-time business model out of whack? Or is something else going on regarding the ticket buyers that Hollywood does -- and does not -- target?
    Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2..Star-Lord/Peter Quill (Chris Pratt)..Ph: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2017For some perspective, it's worth looking at what "Guardians 2" had going for it, and what its weaknesses were.

    On the plus side, there's the Marvel name. Arguably, it was the brand that helped make a sleeper hit out of the first "Guardians" three summers ago. Few experts had predicted that a superhero saga featuring largely unfamiliar characters -- including an angry raccoon and a talking tree -- would have been a smash. But the goodwill that Marvel has earned over the years carried a lot weight and allowed a lot of viewers to give the film the benefit of the doubt. Not only did the movie open with an astonishing $94.3 million, but it went on to gross $333 million in North America and $773 million worldwide.

    True, the first "Guardians" wouldn't have earned those kinds of numbers if not for positive word-of-mouth once the film opened, but the Marvel name is what kicked the door open. "There's a general halo of quality with the Marvel brand," as Dave Hollis, Disney's Executive Vice President for Theatrical Distribution, put it in an interview with Moviefone.

    Now that "Guardians" is an established franchise, however, the sequel is playing a different, more traditional game. Its position as the first blockbuster of the summer follows a carefully-drawn, time-tested blueprint. After all, movies featuring Marvel characters have owned the summer-kickoff slot for the past decade; Marvel films have kicked off the first weekend in May every year since 2007. (Only 2007's "Spider-Man 3" isn't from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but obviously features a Marvel hero.)

    All five of the May movies that have opened bigger than "Guardians 2" are Marvel movies from the first weekend of the summer, and four come from the past five years. Still, why couldn't "Guardians 2" open bigger than a movie from 10 years ago, the least-loved of the three Tobey Maguire "Spider-Man" films?
    "Guardians 2" opened on 4,347 screens, a number that's on a par with "The Avengers" (whose $207.4 million debut on the first weekend of May in 2012 is the best opening ever for Marvel and the third biggest opening weekend in history). That represents about 100 more screens than "Spider-Man 3" (which premiered with $151.1 million) or "Iron Man 2" (opening with $128.1 million on this weekend in 2010). It helped "Guardians" that almost all its screens were premium-format theaters that charge audiences extra. There were some 3,800 3D screens, 388 IMAX screens, 588 large-format screens, and 194 theaters with jostling D-Box seats. The IMAX screens alone yielded $13 million toward that $145 million debut.

    Still, while a lot of the film's reported $200 million budget went toward visual spectacle, the movie's key source of appeal, outside of the characters, may have been nostalgia. There's the much-anticipated soundtrack of vintage '70s pop tunes, which was playing in rotation all weekend on Sirius XM's '70s station. There's also the key roles for old-school action-movie stalwarts Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone. Indeed, looking at the media coverage of "Guardians 2" over the last week, you'd have thought Russell was the star, not Chris Pratt.
    The result was an audience that was largely older. Only 28 percent of the audience consisted of families or teens, and only 40 percent of the viewers were under 25.

    There are two dangers here. One is the conventional wisdom that it's younger viewers that drive the box office, particularly for comic-book movies. The other is that the older audience still relies on reviews, which were less than enthusiastic; apparently, critics who enjoyed the novelty of the first "Guardians" felt that the sequel was just more of the same -- if not less at times.

    Hollis said that the absence of novelty was less of a liability than a creative opportunity. "When you have a sequel to a film that broke out the way the first 'Guardians' did," according to Hollis, "you no longer have the element of surprise, but what you gain is the audience's affection, which gives you the luxury to really delve into the world and the many unique and compelling things, from the colorful characters and the pitch-perfect cast to the music and visuals, that set it apart."

    Indeed, word-of-mouth among paying customers was stronger than the reviews -- the movie earned a solid A at CinemaScore, Marvel's tenth consecutive film to do so -- but Disney had to get those viewers into theaters first.

    Did Disney write off the kind of younger, mainstream viewers who usually make these films into hits? Not exactly. You don't get to $145 million without marketing aggressively to young and old alike. The challenge is to sell each of these films with what Hollis calls "event-level marketing that feels personal." For "Guardians 2," that meant making the adorable Baby Groot ubiquitous, appearing everywhere from "SportsCenter" (on Disney-owned ESPN) to Go-Gurt ads, prompting massive viral sharing of images and video of the lovable shrub.
    Still, the usual blockbuster crowd was not Disney's highest priority this time. That was the overseas audience, most of whom got to see "Guardians 2" a week before Americans did. The movie has already earned $282.6 million abroad, nearly twice what it's made here, for a worldwide total of $427.6 million. So "Guardians 2" is well on its way toward a $1 billion global gross. Forget the domestic earnings; international is the new benchmark for success. Anything less than a billion -- like the $773 million worldwide gross that the first "Guardians" earned three years ago -- could now be seen as a disappointment.

    "Guardians Vol. 2" is the latest of several big-budget Hollywood launches this year, from "Beauty and the Beast" to "The Fate of the Furious," that was made with someone other than the domestic, English-speaking audience in mind.

    It's a vast movie galaxy out there. Domestic audiences who spent $145 million to watch the multi-racial, multi-species "Guardians 2" may soon realize that they're just a small part of it.

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