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Weekend Wrap-Up: Pets Remain Playful, but Ghosts Close Behind

July 19th, 2016


The Secret Life of Pets earned first place over the weekend, however, it and Ghostbusters were a little bit below predictions. They did well enough to keep their studios happy. On the other hand, unless The Infiltrator has amazing legs, it will be a bomb. The overall box office was $163 million, which is 25% lower than last weekend. It didn’t fall as far when compared to this weekend last year, but a 16% decline is still disappointing. Year-to-date, 2016 padded its lead and is now ahead of 2015 by 3.0% at $6.27 billion to $6.08 billion. If 2016 can just maintain this lead for the rest of the year, then I will be more than happy.

The Secret Life of Pets remained in first place, but it fell 51% to $50.84 million over the weekend for a total of $203.43 million after just ten days of release. A 51% decline isn’t bad, but it isn’t great compared to a lot of family films either, especially one with really good reviews like this film earned. That said, it should have no trouble getting to $300 million, while it has a shot at $350 million. That’s about $100 million more than most people were expecting before its release, so the studio should be very happy with this result.

Ghostbusters had a frustrating opening, earning a close second place with $46.02 million over the weekend. I call this opening frustrating, because it is right on the line between a hit and a miss. Had it opened with less than $40 million, then we would have known right away it was going to lose money. Had it opened with more than $50 million, then even average legs would have put it in the black sometime during its home market run. The film’s reviews suggest it should have good legs, while Paul Feig’s films also tend to have really long legs. With this opening, it could make $150 million domestically and its legs would still be below average for Paul Feig’s career. Additionally, the early numbers suggest this film will be the biggest hit in Paul Feig’s career internationally and should top $300 million worldwide.

Is this enough to break even? I did some quick calculations based on other similarly expensive films and I think $350 million is the minimum to break even any time soon. On the other hand, Sony says $300 million is enough. There are two possible reasons for the differing opinions here. One, Sony is lying to save face. This sounds harsh, but it is very common for studios to lie in this regard. For example, it is common knowledge that studio expectations are always on the low side, so it is more likely the studio can claim a film “beat expectations”. Or two, Sony has more information than I do and I’m missing a key source of income. For example, they are no longer pushing for a Chinese release, so perhaps the global P&A is lower than the $100 million originally reported. Also, without China dragging down the average, perhaps the studio is going to get a higher percentage of the worldwide box office than I estimated. Then there are factors like product placements, and merchandising.

Sony says they are happy with this result and I believe them. It is already their fourth biggest hit for the year and will reach second place by Friday. It also has the third biggest opening for a live-action film this summer. Furthermore, Sony has a Ghostbusters cartoon coming out in 2018, so this film could be a success merely by boosting brand awareness. There’s a sequel in the works, allegedly, so if we see concrete evidence that’s still happening, then we know the film made money. Otherwise we are left with speculation.

The Legend of Tarzan earned third place with $11.44 million over the weekend pushing its running tally to $103.37 million after three weeks of release. It became the 13th film this year to reach the century mark and it won’t be the last, as Independence Day: Resurgence is just behind it.

Finding Dory added $11.28 million to its running tally, lifting it to $445.75 million. It overtook Shrek 2 to become the biggest animated film of all time.

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates rounded out the top five with $7.66 million over the weekend for a ten-day total of $31.48 million. This is very close to the film’s $33 million production budget, so assuming it can do almost as well internationally as it does domestically, it will break even sooner rather than later.

The Infiltrator showed some signs of growth earning $5.30 million over the weekend for a five-day opening of $6.77 million. If this growth leads to a strong holdover next weekend, then perhaps the film won’t be a complete write-off. On the other hand, even a 50% drop-off will convince a lot of theater owners to drop it as fast as possible.

- Weekend Box Office

- Ghostbusters Comparisons
- The Infiltrator Comparisons

Filed under: Paul Feig