By David Poland firstname.lastname@example.org
Weekend Estimates by $174m Opening Puts Us Behind Last Year Klady
A $30 million jump from the first in the franchise to the second, released two years later… though the second didn’t quite equal the first in total domestic gross.
And not, an estimated $50 million jump from 2 to Three… even though #2 was not well-liked… but there was The Avengers in between.
The baseline is that it’s good to open the summer if you have a franchise that will open big. Five of the 10 biggest summer openings of all-time are from the “first weekend of summer,” aka the first weekend of May. All 5 are superhero movies, by the way.
If you’re wondering how significant May is to opening weekends, 11 of the 24 all-time $100m opening happened in the month of May. Following that are November with 5 and July with 4. November’s mega-opens are limited to Potter & Twilight. July, Potter & Pirates. June has 2, one being the 2nd Transformers and the other being the final Toy Story. March is the most interesting spot, though only 2 have turned the trick there, Burton’s Alice remake and the launch of Hunger Games, of the “if you build it, they will show” phenomenology.
Amyway… I don’t really have anything interesting to say about the domestic Iron Man Three opening itself. It doesn’t, as an event, prove that theatrical is strong. It is the #2 domestic opening ever, but somehow feels like it’s been done before… a phenomenon of annual “we’re the biggest ever” opening growth. (Only Jim Cameron has outrun that… twice.) It does suggest that front-loading is continuing to be what studios want.
IM3 is already the #1 Iron Man movie—total worldwide gross—of the series, thanks to the rest of the world being almost $200 million ahead of any IM movie of the past. It’s generated $505m in the rest of the world through this American opening weekend, which also, by the way, dwarfs the $335m that The Avengers had in its coffers internationally through their opening weekend.
In other words, fuck worldwide day-n-date. Disney has the new killer op in distribution of big, loud movies. Fill the tank outside of the US before landing here. AKA, go where the suckers are. Go early and don’t let the United States be the arbiter of taste in any way.
And you know that the movie universe is topsy-turvy when WE are the ones holding out for higher quality.
For the record, I’m not saying that Iron Man Three is junk. It’s certainly better directed that either of the first two films in the series and even though it cops out pathetically on its Black-ian ambitions (another odd moment… as we hold Shane Black as Mr. Arty Edge, even if many of us loved his sleekest, smartest film, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang), it is not unfair, in my eyes, to call it the best of the lot. But it’s still a deeply flawed movie. Not really good… but not offensively bad.
So that is the trend line to watch. Warner Bros, the international-selling superstar of the 90s into the early 00s, is rolling out Man of Steel in its normal method, basic worldwide day-n-date, which they pioneered, but everyone caught up with. Fox which has been pushing the international envelope in the 00s is sticking to pretty traditional day-n-date for The Wolverine. Paramount is in similar mode with World War Z. And Sony, with Roland Emmerich’s White House Down, isn’t even pushing day-n-date, with a worldwide rollout over couple of months, even without an Olympics of World Cup.
This could be the moment when the American media finally gets serious about international box office. It’s very possible that in the next two weeks, the Iron Man Three international gross will pass the previous best worldwide gross for an Iron Man film. It is distinctly possible that Iron Man Three will be a $350m domestic movie… and do double that internationally.
And when was the only other time in the last decade of box office $ boom we saw something like that 33/67 split from the summer’s top film? The final Harry Potter two summers ago… but that was unique to Potter, which never once in eight tries did as much of 335 of its box office domestically. (The first one came closest with 32.6%.)
This is the box office story to watch this summer. If The Hangover 3 goes $400 international/$200m domestic, it’s a pretty strong signal… not of the failure of domestic theatrical, but of the intentional (I love when the industry pretends things just happen… sometimes they do… mostly, they are by design) change to the ecology that will create a new domestic film industry vacuum that will need to start being managed in earnest.