A brief look at this year’s summer box office hits & misses in the domestic market
As summer in the Northern Hemisphere comes to an end, this oft-updated box office article offers a quick look at the opening-weekend performances of several major domestic releases in the last three months or so.
Please note that in the eyes of the Hollywood studios, the summer season doesn’t end in late September but on the United States’ Labor Day weekend early in the month.
So, let’s get started.
With no real competition, Jodie Foster revenge thriller The Brave One is no. 1 movie on summer’s final weekend
Sept. 14–16 weekend box office: Despite less than enthusiastic reviews – and thanks to a dearth of strong competitors – Neil Jordan’s The Brave One was the no. 1 choice of North American moviegoers.
Starring two-time Best Actress Academy Award winner Jodie Foster (The Accused, 1988; The Silence of the Lambs, 1991), the revenge drama grossed $13.5 million from 2,755 theaters according to studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com.
On the downside, The Brave One’s per-theater average was an underwhelming $4,889.
Also in the cast: Oscar nominee Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow, 2005) and winner Mary Steenburgen (Melvin and Howard, 1980).
Like Foster and Steenburgen, Neil Jordan is an Oscar winner as well – in the Best Original Screenplay category for the 1992 psychological/political thrillerThe Crying Game.
Mr. Woodcock & 3:10 to Yuma
At no. 2, Craig Gillespie’s Mr. Woodcock scored an (estimated) $9.1 million from 2,231 venues on its debut weekend. The comedy features Oscar winners Billy Bob Thornton (as screenwriter for Sling Blade, 1996) and Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking, 1995), in addition to Sean William Scott.
Last weekend’s top movie, 3:10 to Yuma, slipped to no. 3, earning $8.9 million at 2,667 locations. To date, the James Mangold-directed Western starring Christian Bale and Russell Crowe has collected $28.3 million. Glenn Ford and Van Heflin starred in the 1957 original directed by Delmer Daves.
Labor Day Halloween party
Aug. 31–Sept. 2 weekend box office: The horror thriller Halloween was the no. 1 title with an estimated $26.3 million.
Released more than a month before Halloween 2007, Rob Zombie’s updated version of John Carpenter’s 1978 cult classic opened at 3,472 locations, drawing large crowds over the usually tepid Labor Day weekend.
New entry Balls of Fury ranked in third, collecting $11.4 million from 3,052 sites. Robert Ben Garant’s sports comedy opened nationwide last Wednesday and thus far has raked in a mere $14.3 million. In the cast: Dan Fogler, George Lopez, Maggie Q, and Oscar winner Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter, 1978).
For the record, the weekend’s no. 2 movie was Greg Mottola’s Superbad, with $12.5 million.
Superbad beats all newcomers while new Mr. Bean movie trails predecessor
Aug. 24–26 weekend box office: Superbad easily managed to remain at the top of the domestic box office chart, earning $18 million while lifting its cumulative gross to $68.6 million after two weekends.
New entry Mr. Bean’s Holiday landed in fourth place, pulling in $10.1 million from 1,714 venues. Directed by Steve Bendelack, the sequel to the 1997 hit Mr. Bean follows the titular character (played by Rowan Atkinson) through his various misadventures in the south of France, where he ends up walking the Cannes Film Festival’s red carpet.
Of note, inflation or no, Mr. Bean’s Holiday failed to surpass the $12.8 million its predecessor scored on its first weekend in wide release.
Another new entry, War, landed in the no. 5 slot, grossing $10 million from 2,277 sites. Directed by Philip G. Atwell, the action flick focuses on FBI agent Jason Statham’s attempts to avenge the murder of his partner by unscrupulous Yakuza (and former CIA) assassin Jet Li.
Statham and Li had previously paired up six years ago in James Wong’s sci-fi actioner The One, which went on to collect $43.9 million in the domestic market after debuting with $19.1 million.
In other words, War is bound to become a major summer box office dud.
Teen comedy tops domestic box office chart
Aug. 17–19 weekend box office: Produced by Judd Apatow and directed by Greg Mottola, the teen-oriented comedy Superbad, about two friends trying to get laid before their high school graduation, easily dominated the North American box office, bringing in a respectable $33.1 million from 2,948 theaters.
Featuring Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Superbad managed to surpass the $30.7million opening weekend of Apatow’s comedy Knocked Up, which was released on June 1.
Summer duds: The Invasion & The Last Legion
Also worth noting, new entry The Invasion opened at no. 5, pulling in $6 million from 2,776 locations.
The troubled science-fiction thriller credited to director Oliver Hirschbiegel – of the controversial Adolf Hitler movie Downfall – received poor reviews, but still managed to land among the top five. That’s more than can be said for this weekend’s third major opening, Doug Lefler’s The Last Legion, which landed in twelfth place with a meager $2.7 million from 2,002 locations.
Originally intended as a remake of Don Siegel’s 1956 horror classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers, starring Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wyner, and alien pods, The Invasion ended up as something else altogether. In the cast: Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (The Hours, 2002), Daniel Craig, and Jeremy Northam.
Widely panned buddy comedy Rush Hour 3 is no. 1 while Stardust has wan debut
Aug. 10–12 weekend box office: Brett Ratner’s dismally received Rush Hour 3 was the no. 1 title with an estimated $50.2 million. On the downside, despite its wider-than-wide release at 3,778 sites, the Paris-set threequel didn’t even get close to the $67.5 million opening of 2001’s Rush Hour 2.
Focused on the various dangers posed by the Chinese mafia in the French capital, Rush Hour 3 stars Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, and – however mind-bogglingly – Ingmar Bergman fave and Best Actor Oscar nominee Max von Sydow (Pelle the Conqueror, 1988).
The previous installment in the brainless action franchise was also directed by Ratner, and stars Chan and Tucker.
Far less successful than Rush Hour 3 was new entry Stardust, which landed at no. 4 after taking in a disappointing $9.2 million from 2,540 locations. Matthew Vaughn’s romantic fantasy adventure stars Claire Danes, two-time Oscar winner Robert De Niro (The Godfather: Part II, 1974; Raging Bull, 1980), and three-time nominee Michelle Pfeiffer.
The Bourne Ultimatum surpasses predecessor’s launch
Aug. 3–5 weekend box office: With a hefty $69.3 million from 3,660 sites, The Bourne Ultimatum was the big winner at the domestic box office.
Directed by Paul Greengrass, whose real-life-based United 93 received numerous critical accolades last year, and starring Oscar nominee Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting, 1997), the third big-screen installment of Robert Ludlum’s Bourne novels easily surpassed the $52.5 million opening-weekend take of its predecessor, the Greengrass-directed 2004 entry The Bourne Supremacy.
Also in the cast: Julia Stiles, David Strathairn, Daniel Brühl, Edgar Ramírez, Scott Glenn, Paddy Considine, Joan Allen, and multiple Oscar-nominated veteran Albert Finney (Tom Jones, Murder on the Orient Express, etc.).
Of note: Walt Disney Pictures’ Underdog, about a super-canine who sets out to save the world, debuted at no. 3, scoring a mediocre $11.6 million from 3,013 sites. Directed by Frederik Du Chau, Underdog features Peter Dinklage, Jim Belushi, and Patrick Warburton, in addition to the voices of Jason Lee and Amy Adams.
Comparing the final box office take of the three Bourne movies
Update: The Bourne Ultimatum ultimately took in $227.5 million domestically and $216.6 million internationally. Worldwide total: $444.1 million. Budget: $110 million.
For comparison’s sake: The Bourne Identity took in $121.7 million domestically and $92.4 million internationally. Worldwide total: $214 million. Budget: $60 million.
The Bourne Supremacy took in $176.2 million domestically and $114.6 million internationally. Worldwide total: $290.8 million. Budget: $75 million.
Summer blockbuster III: The Simpsons Movie scores impressive weekend opening
July 27–29 weekend box office: The Simpsons Movie topped the chart with an impressive $74 million from 3,922 sites.
David Silverman’s big-screen adaptation of the hugely popular animated television series features the voices of Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, and Nancy Cartwright.
Of note: At no. 3, David Yates’ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix pulled in $17.7 million from 4,005 locations. After three weekends out, the fifth installment in the blockbuster franchise has lifted its cumulative gross to $242.4 million.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is only $8 million away from surpassing the third Harry Potter movie, Alfonso Cuarón’s generally well-regarded 2004 release Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry is latest piece of evidence that North American audiences want quality fare
July 20–22 weekend box office: Starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Jessica Biel, and Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee Dan Aykroyd (Driving Miss Daisy, 1989), Dennis Dugan’s lowbrow (anti-?)gay-ish comedy I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry – about two male friends pretending to be a gay couple so as to receive domestic partner benefits – topped the American/Canadian box office, with $34.2 million from 3,495 locations.
If you give them stupid, they’ll come, right?
But of course! In fact, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry far outpaced Dugan’s previous movie, The Benchwarmers, featuring Rob Schneider and David Spade, which opened with $19.7 million in April 2006. But then again, is I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry any more stupid than The Benchwarmers?
Stop and think about that for a few minutes.
Besides, one must admit it’s a little bit surprising that something as infantile as the latest flick featuring Adam Sandler and Kevin James – it has a 15 percent approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes – failed to easily top the domestic box office chart. After all, on its second weekend out Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was only about $1.7 million behind it, collecting $32.5 million.
Of note: Directed by Adam Shankman, new entry Hairspray opened at no. 3, raking in (an estimated) $27.8 million from 3,121 sites.
The adaptation of the Broadway musical, itself from John Waters’ 1980s cult classic, stars John Travolta (in the old Divine role, under heavy make-up and a body suit), Stardust’s Michelle Pfeiffer, James Marsden, Christopher Walken, and Nikki Blonsky.
Summer blockbuster II: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
July 13–15 weekend box office: Directed by David Yates, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is already the movie to beat this summer season, after collecting $77.1 million from 4,285 locations.
It gets better: The fifth installment in the big-screen franchise based on J.K. Rowling’s bestsellers has taken in $139.7 million since opening last Wednesday.
Summer blockbuster I: Transformers
July 6–8 weekend box office: Transformers was the no. 1 movie on the North American box office chart this post-Fourth of July weekend. Michael Bay’s mix of action, explosions, and cheesy dialogue earned the blockbuster in the making $70.5 million from 4,011 theaters.
Having opened on July 2, Transformers has to date collected $155.4 million. Not bad at all – except, perhaps, for the future of cinema.
Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer is the no. 1 movie on the final weekend of spring
June 15–17 weekend box office: In the last weekend of spring 2007, Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer was the no. 1 title at the domestic box office, scoring $58.1 million. The Fantastic 4 sequel opened at 3,959 sites, topping the $56 million opening weekend set by its predecessor in 2005. In the Rise of the Silver Surfer cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Kerry Washington, and Doug Jones.
Last weekend’s big winner, Ocean’s Thirteen, dropped to the no. 2 spot, raking in $19.7 million. Cume to date: $70.4 million. In the extensive cast: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Al Pacino, Don Cheadle, Scott Caan, Ellen Barkin, Andy Garcia, Vincent Cassel, and Oprah Winfrey as herself.
At no. 3, Judd Apatow’s comedy Knocked Up took in $14.1 million. Cume to date: $90 million. In the cast: Katherine Heigl, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, and Kristen Wiig.
“Summer Box Office: Teens, Thrills” endnotes
Unless otherwise noted, “Summer Box Office: Teens, Thrills + ‘Gay’ Adam Sandler” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should usually be taken with a grain of salt – via various sources, including BOM.
Comments about a movie being profitable or a money-loser at the box office are based on the available data about its production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production budget), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).
Bear in mind that contractual details and data regarding pre-sales, rebates, and other credits that help to split/alleviate production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses can be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is accounted for).
Lastly, although a more accurate reflection of a film’s popularity (i.e., its number of tickets sold), inflation-adjusted estimates should be taken with extreme caution. For instance, they’re based on average domestic ticket prices (via the National Association of Theater Owners, unless otherwise noted) whereas numerous major releases scored a large chunk of their box office gross at top-priced theaters.
Jodie Foster The Brave One movie image: Warner Bros.
Michael Cera Superbad movie image: Columbia Pictures | Sony Pictures.
Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker Rush Hour 3 image: New Line Cinema.
Adam Sandler and Kevin James I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry image: Universal Pictures.
“Summer Box Office: Teens, Thrills + ‘Gay’ Adam Sandler” last updated in April 2022.