The next big Disney movie releasing weeks after Avengers: Age of Ultron was supposed to be Tomorrowland. While Disney too would not have bet on the latter coming anywhere close to the box-office earnings of the Joss Whedon flick, it surely would have hoped to hit somewhere nearabout the $100 million figure on its opening weekend in North America. Alright, at least $70 million. $50 million? Disney had invested close to $190 million in the movie’s production after all. Well, the opening turned out to be quite dull, and if the international numbers do not save this movie, then it may very well be termed as a disaster. Tomorrowland had a lacklustre $32.2 million weekend collection; the figure was $40.7 million for the four-day Memorial weekend. There has been additional earning of $26.7 million from the foreign countries in which the movie opened, though a release in most of the big markets is still pending. With the mediocre reviews that the movie is earning, a delayed release will not help its cause, and I am worried that the movie may not even earn $300 million worldwide by the end of its theatrical run, which would lead to a hefty write-off for Disney. The studio though has earned more than enough with Avengers: Age of Ultron and has many more big projects lined up, but the failure of an original story such as Tomorrowland is really disappointing. There is no arguing however that Brad Bird’s movie lacked what it took to make a mark in cinema.
The other wide release of the weekend was the horror reboot Poltergeist. The movie earned $23 million for the weekend ($27.7 million for the four-day weekend) in the domestic market; outside North America, it added another $8.3 million. Usually, a horror movie could have been termed a ‘hit’ with such an opening, but Poltergeist surprisingly has a $35 million production budget, which is quite large for a movie in this genre. The studio will thus have to look at $90-$100 million worldwide box-office earnings to achieve breakeven. The reviews aren’t too great, 33% score on Rottentomatoes, and so this ain’t the kind of classic that the original 1982 flick was. The fall in the coming weekends should be quite sharp, and so the final verdict on Poltergeist ain’t a clear one as of now. Nonetheless, it seems like a decent opening to have, wherein the studio won’t lose too much, and might even gain if the foreign earnings are equivalent to the domestic earnings. Eh, but a sequel may just be very unlikely!
The real big winners for the weekend it seems are the films from last week – Pitch Perfect 2 and Mad Max: Fury Road. The musical comedy Pitch Perfect 2 dropped by 56% for its second weekend, but it still easily crossed $100 million, and is now comfortably placed with domestic earnings of close to $120 million. The movie, remember, was made on a shoe-string budget of $29 million (that is ‘shoe-string’ in Hollywood!), and so is already a guaranteed superhit. Its worldwide total is $187 million now, and by the time its run ends, its total earnings should be 10x its production budget. Incredible! Mad Max: Fury Road, on the other hand, was made on a budget of $150 million and so needs big box-office figures to move into black. The movie dropped by only 46% in its second weekend in North America which is a testament to the amazing reviews and word-of-mouth that the film has earned. Its worldwide tally is about $212 million so far, but it needs about twice that amount for the studio to have some reason financially to celebrate. Fingers crossed for this one! And finally, Avengers: Age of Ultron grossed more than $400 million in North America in 24 days, the fourth fastest film to do so – the fastest one being 2012’s The Avengers in 14 days. It has earned $1.26 billion worldwide so far, and is on target to cross the $1.5 billion earnings of Furious 7. It has earned more than $200 million in China alone, where it is the third biggest film till date, and could well have many more millions to add from that market. This battle is on a different level altogether. Phew!
Here are the top 5 weekend earners at the US box-office (estimates):
1. Tomorrowland ($32.2 million)
2. Pitch Perfect 2 ($30.3 million; second weekend)
3. Mad Max: Fury Road ($23.9 million; second weekend)
4. Poltergeist ($23.3 million)
5. Avengers: Age of Ultron ($20.9 million; fourth weekend)