After my bold and sure-to-go-wrong box office predictions for the month of July, let’s sort out the rubble and see who ended up as the big box office winners and losers for this middle summer month.
JULY BOX OFFICE WINNERS
Despicable Me 2— Without a doubt, the biggest winner of the month was Gru and his minions. Despicable Me 2 demolished The Lone Ranger on the big Fourth of July weekend and has surged past June’s Man of Steel as the #2 grosser of the year behind Iron Man 3. Through the month’s end, it has grossed over $307 million and is barely slowing down. $350 million seems possible. That would put it in the Top 30 of all-time domestic box office earners. That’s the money Pixar wishes Monsters University made and Dreamworks wishes Turbo made. It will end up beating both of them combined.
The Conjuring— As much as I’m surprised, it looks like a horror movie is actually going to pass $100 million this summer. That’s a rare thing and a big win for The Conjuring. Combined with The Purge‘s earlier success in May/June, horror might be making a mainstream push. I’m confident some crappy Halloween-time release that is a bomb with audiences and a bomb with critics (two things The Conjuring and The Purge were not) will bring the genre back down to the toilet where it normally resides.
Grown Ups 2— As much as it pains me to say, Adam Sandler has another hit. No one seems to listen and the regret soon follows. I don’t know what it’s going to take for the public to see past his horrible movies and stop giving him their money, but he’s a successful sucker-maker. Grown Ups 2, with its 7% Rotten Tomatoes score, has surpassed $100 million and is tracking just about as successful as the first one. Someone, make it stop.
The Heat— This was already listed as a winner last month and it gets another mention this month. With good repeat business, The Heat passed the domestic box office gross of Melissa McCarthy’s winter hit Identity Thief. Move over Sandra, Julia, Angelina, and Cameron. McCarthy might be your new “America’s Sweatheart.” (my full review)
The Way Way Back— Down the blockbuster spectrum to the independent films, in just two weeks of expanded release, The Way Way Back, a spectacular coming-of-age film starring Liam James, Sam Rockwell, Toni Collette, and Steve Carell is slowing making some waves. With a nice following, The Way Way Back will cross $10 million this week and look to win a little more. Compared to some movies that never make a tenth of that, you can count this as a winner. (my full review)
Fruitvale Station— Much like The Way Way Back, $9 million in grosses so far after a scant $600,000 budget is more than impressive. This timely little movie, a winner at Sundance and competitor at Cannes, is getting some of the highest reviews of the year (94% on Rotten Tomatoes). This movie has the potential to be something special and has only had one week of wider release.
TOO SOON TO TELL
The Wolverine— Yes, The Wolverine was #1 this past weekend with a commanding $53 million take, but it likely has a budget triple that to make up. The movie will land in the green and perform strong internationally, just as these films always do. It sure won’t catch the $180 million neighborhood that 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine made. I’ll slot it in “too soon to tell” before putting it as a loser or “somewhere in the middle.” (my full review)
Blue Jasmine— Woody Allen has been consistently putting out strong, independent counter-programming every summer. Blue Jasmine isn’t shaping out, so far, to be the next Midnight in Paris, but $600,000 on just six screens is a healthy start. This movie could surprise folks.
SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE
Pacific Rim— The public perception of this likely screams “loser,” but the movie is squeezing its chances into even money. It has only earned just over $85 million here domestically, but it’s worldwide take of about $225 million puts it at a push at the box office blackjack table with its near $200 million budget. The movie did enough to get a sequel to try again. If Warner Brothers will give Clash of the Titans an expensive sequel, it will give this one too. (my full review)
JULY BOX OFFICE LOSERS
The Lone Ranger— With just $85 million in domestic grosses and highly publicized loss to Despicable Me 2, this one gets added to the junk pile with After Earth and White House Down. However, just like John Carter (which made back its grosses and a little extra) and Disney’s other perceived losers, The Lone Ranger has still raked in $163 million worldwide. That’s higher than White House Down, but short of its $225+ million budget. It’s still far from a company bankrupting bomb. Watch merchandising and disc sales pad that number back from red to black.
R.I.P.D.— If you want a real summer bomb, look past The Lone Ranger and land right here. The Men in Black rip-off about the dead instead of aliens with Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds cost over $130 million to make and has only made $27 million. That’s not just North America. That’s worldwide. That’s Charles Barkley “turrible.”
Turbo— It’s not been a good month for Ryan Reynolds. On the same weekend R.I.P.D. tanks, Turbo flops trying to follow up Despicable Me 2. I guess everyone forgot about the fun Ryan Reynolds from The Croods and felt this movie looked too much like Cars. $56 million after just two weeks is a slower snail’s pace than Epic earlier this summer (all pun intended). That movie at least made it to $100 million. Turbo won’t get close.
RED 2— Here’s yet another sequel that can’t live up to its predecessor. RED was a modest hit in the fall of 2010, earning more than $90 million, but Warner Brothers got greedy and put its sequel in the middle of the summer season. Between Pacific Rim and Red 2, Warner Brothers gave away their coveted Harry Potter and Dark Knight franchise July box office domination to lackluster attempts. They could have (and should have) gave that all-alone-in-July-with-no-blockbusters-around slot to Man of Steel and likely upped that movie’s take considerably. Call it a missed opportunity three ways around.
The To Do List— No one was predicting a female American Pie-sized hit, but a 15th place and $1.5 million debut is pathetic compared to the marketing push this was getting. It doesn’t have much of a budget to make up, but you still won’t do that was 15th place.
Killing Season— Oh, how the mighty have fallen. I bet this is a movie you haven’t even heard of. If I told you 10-15 years ago that Robert De Niro, John Travolta, and the director of Daredevil and Ghost Rider were teaming up, you might be tempted. Not anymore. The good ju-ju De Niro generated from Silver Linings Playbook is already gone thanks to this movie and The Big Wedding. Welcome to straight-to-DVD level and $27,000 in theatrical grosses. Wow, that’s ugly.