The Battles of May

The first month of the summer season of 2014 has come to an end. But not before leaving behind a bloody battlefield. Each weekend had seen a new fight, each time the stakes were high, and each time while one rejoiced, the other wept. The month of May this year earned more than $1 billion in ticket collections in North America alone, which has now happened for the fourth year in a row, and had three movies opening with more than $90 million each. But each of these movies also saw sharp falls in the subsequent weekends. Movie-goers are spoilt for choice, and so it is becoming extremely rare for a movie to cling on to even 50% of its viewership in the second weekend. The battlefield though has now been stretched as movies are increasingly looking to scout the global audience and earn a bigger share from abroad. In that context, there have been some big winners in May, and quite a few losers too who dared challenge the mighty ones. Here is how things had panned out.

Week 1

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was the only wide release of the first weekend of the month. It opened with $91.6 million in North America, and has earned close to $700 million worldwide so far. The movie is bound to end up as the lowest earning movie of the franchise domestically, but it has such a wide base outside that the share of domestic earnings has depleted. And even if this movie ends up as the lowest earner globally, it is still a huge success for Sony Pictures and keeps the Spidey franchise very much alive, so as to create the expanded universe that the studio is planning.

Week 2

An R-rated comedy took on an animated feature film on the second weekend. The first one had a production budget of $18 million while it was $70 million for the second. But as it turned out, Neighbors opened with $49 million, while Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return did not even manage $4 million in its first weekend in North America. In terms of “surprise” element and return on investment, Neighbors is the movie of the month! It has already earned $211 million in worldwide earnings, much of it from the domestic market, and has still quite a few weeks left in its theatrical run. There was another release on this weekend, Mom’s Night Out, which opened in about 1000 theatres and then fizzled away quite quickly.

Week 3

The big-budget story of the Japanese kaiju battled the underdog baseball tale. The underdog did not win this time. Godzilla opened with a strong $93 million in the domestic market while Million Dollar Arm managed a measly $10.5 million. The new take on the giant monster was far more appreciated than Disney’s weakly pieced together sports movie. Godzilla has garnered close to $400 million so far worldwide with the big markets of China and Japan yet to be breached. As for Million Dollar Arm, it has not even managed a tenth of that!

Week 4

On one side were the mutants, the old and the new, and on the other side was Adam Sandler with Drew Barrymore egging him on. The mutants charged in, Sandler panicked and fled, and the fight was over! X-Men: Days of Future Past opened with $91 million against which Blended managed only $14 million. Despite the modest budget of Blended, this weak opening guaranteed its “flop” stature. On the other hand, the latest X-Men flick has earned more than $500 million worldwide already, becoming the biggest hit of the franchise. Now why does someone even think of messing with Wolverine & Co!?

Week 5

The final week showcased the battle between Disney’s popular villain of yesteryear and another R-rated comedy flick with a western touch. The latter stood no chance! Angelina Jolie stole the show as Maleficent opened with close to $70 million in North America, while A Million Ways to Die in the West with its absurdly long name earned only $17 million. The Disney flick is bound to find a huge audience globally and has already raked in more than $200 million. The same cannot be said for the Seth MacFarlane comedy. It has indeed died!

So the big budget films won their battles; the losers at the other end should have little to cry about for they offered so less that they never got the audience interested. Neighbors did sweep the tide in its favor and being the oddity of this summer season so far. The battles for June are now set to begin. We can’t wait, can we? Bring them on!


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