The Great Gatsby movie adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel earned $50.08m at the North American box office this past weekend, including $3.25 million from late Thursday night showings, according to weekend box office actuals found at Box Office Mojo. Despite mostly poor reviews — The Great Gatsby has a 32 percent approval rating and 5.6/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes’ top critics — the Baz Luhrmann-directed take on the love story between Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jay Gatsby and Carey Mulligan’s Daisy Buchanan far surpassed the expectations of both distributor Warner Bros. and box office pundits. In fact, The Great Gatsby trailed only Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man 3, which collected $72.52 million at the domestic box office this past weekend. (Photo: Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby.)
Partly thanks to 3D surcharges and a strong female contingent of ticket-buyers, The Great Gatsby currently boasts 2013’s third biggest opening weekend, behind only Iron Man 3 ($174.14 million) and Sam Raimi / James Franco’s Oz the Great and Powerful ($79.11 million). Rounding out this year’s top-five opening weekends are Channing Tatum / Dwayne Johnson’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation ($40.5 million) and Joseph Kosinski / Tom Cruise’s Oblivion ($37.05 million). Oblivion is the only top-five movie that is not in 3D.
Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby cost a reported $105 million, after rebates. The film’s actual cost — not including prints and advertising (or top talent’s future slices of the box office pie) — ranges between $160-$200 million, depending on the source.
The Great Gatsby movie: Leonardo DiCaprio’s second biggest opening weekend ever — in box office grosses
Even factoring in inflation, The Great Gatsby had the second biggest opening weekend ever for a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The no. 1 DiCaprio star vehicle remains Christopher Nolan’s special-effects-laden Inception, which debuted in summer 2010 with $62.78 million (approx. $64 million today).
For comparison’s sake, Quentin Tarantino’s R-rated Django Unchained, co-starring Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz, opened with $30.12 million (2012); Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar with $11.21 million (2011); Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island with $41.06 million (2010); Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies (2008), co-starring Russell Crowe, with $12.88 million; and Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can with $30.05 million in 2002, or approximately $41m in 2013 dollars. In fact, on its opening weekend The Great Gatsby brought in more than J. Edgar, Body of Lies, and the Leonardo DiCaprio / Kate Winslet combo Revolutionary Road (2008) scored during each of these films’ entire inflation-adjusted run.
Now, remember: unlike previous Leonardo DiCaprio movies, The Great Gatsby’s opening weekend box office figures include late Thursday showings. Additionally, The Great Gatsby is in 3D, which can inflate movie-ticket costs by up to 40 percent.
Leonardo DiCaprio movies: The Great Gatsby vs. Titanic
James Cameron’s Titanic, co-starring Kate Winslet and Gloria Stuart, pulled in $28.63 million in late 1997 — or the equivalent of approximately $49.5 million in 2013 dollars. With the assistance of late Thursday showings, The Great Gatsby’s domestic opening weekend ended up ahead of Titanic. Yet, Thursday showings or not, Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest release undoubtedly sold fewer tickets than Cameron’s multiple Oscar-winning love story. How so? Remember, prior to its recent rerelease, Titanic was a 2D movie; hence, no movie-ticket surcharges.
Also worth noting is that The Great Gatsby has far surpassed Baz Luhrmann’s previous official North American opening-weekend record holder, the Nicole Kidman / Hugh Jackman romantic drama Australia, which grossed $14.8 million in its first three days out in 2008. If inflation is taken into account, Luhrmann’s biggest domestic debut came courtesy of Romeo + Juliet, starring DiCaprio himself and Claire Danes, which brought in $11.13 million when it opened in 1996, or approximately $20 million today. Either way, The Great Gatsby is clearly Luhrmann’s opening-weekend box office champ.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan topline The Great Gatsby movie cast
Besides three-time Academy Award nominee Leonardo DiCaprio (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Aviator, Blood Diamond) and 2009 Best Actress Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan (An Education), Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby movie features former Spider-Man Tobey Maguire, and Zero Dark Thirty actors Joel Edgerton and Jason Clarke.
Also in the Great Gatsby cast: Isla Fisher, Elizabeth Debicki, Callan McAuliffe, Max Cullen, Gemma Ward, Barry Otto, Bollywood veteran Amitabh Bachchan, and veteran Jack Thompson. The 2013 The Great Gatsby script was written by Luhrmann and his frequent collaborator Craig Pearce, among whose non-Luhrmann movie credits is the Zac Efron vehicle Charlie St. Cloud.
The previous big-screen versions of The Great Gatsby are the following: Herbert Brenon’s in 1926, now a lost film, starring future Best Actor Academy Award winner Warner Baxter (In Old Arizona) and Lois Wilson; Elliott Nugent’s in 1949, with Alan Ladd and Betty Field; and Jack Clayton’s in 1974, with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow.
Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby movie photo: Warner Bros.