'The Wolverine' 2013 movie box office: Latest domestic summer season disappointment
Starring Hugh Jackman, the James Mangold-directed The Wolverine debuted with a way lower than expected $21 million from 3,924 venues (3,063 of which in 3D) on Friday, July 26, 2013, including $4 million from Thursday evening and midnight shows, according to studio estimates found at Boxofficemojo.com. Generally speaking, $4 million or whereabouts from midnight screenings (in years past not including late Thursday shows) usually translates into a $60+ million opening weekend gross in North America – e.g., in summer 2011, Kenneth Branagh / Chris Hemsworth's Thor with $65.72 million, and Joe Johnston / Chris Evans' Captain America: The First Avenger with $65.05 million; in summer 2012, Marc Webb / Andrew Garfield's The Amazing Spider-Man with $62 million; and earlier this summer season, Marc Forster / Brad Pitt's World War Z with $66.41 million.
World War Z's domestic overperformance notwithstanding, perhaps those late Thursday shows (and advance ticket sales) are distorting domestic box office estimates a bit, since Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim also opened surprisingly well on Thursday evening, only to badly underperform on the weekend proper, ultimately failing to reach $40 million.
'The Wolverine' vs. 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine'
Distributor 20th Century Fox was expecting its latest X-Men spin-off and X-Men Origins: Wolverine sequel to gross about $65 million on opening weekend. At Box Office Mojo, Ray Subers predicted a $72.5 million opening.
After all, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, also starring Hugh Jackman, collected an excellent $85.05 million – without the assistance of 3D surcharges – when it opened in early May 2009. But no such luck this time around. The Wolverine's chances of reaching $60 million are slim; barring a phenomenal Saturday and Sunday surge, it looks like its domestic opening-weekend take will be something closer to $53-55 million, along the lines of the Martin Campbell / Ryan Reynolds costly box office misfire Green Lantern, which opened with $53.17 million in 2011, and the domestic box office disappointment X-Men: First Class, directed by Matthew Vaughn, and featuring Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, and Jennifer Lawrence, among others, and which debuted with $55.1 million. (Update: The Wolverine opened with an estimated $55 million in North America.)
The Wolverine was reportedly budgeted at $120 million, not including distribution and marketing costs. Needless to say, it'll be impossible for the film to recover its budget at the domestic box office, considering that as a rule of thumb exhibitors keep about 45-50 percent of a film's box office gross. In fact, if it opens at the lower end of estimates, it's actually possible that The Wolverine will fail to even match its budget domestically; Green Lantern, for instance, cumed at $116.6 million in the U.S. and Canada.
The Silver Lining: As usual, The Wolverine's box office salvation lies far away from Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington. X-Men: First Class cumed at $146.4 million in North America, but grossed a remarkable $207.21 million internationally. Directed by Shawn Levy and starring Hugh Jackman, Real Steel collected only $85.46 million in North America, but an excellent $210 million elsewhere. X-Men Origins: Wolverine's domestic total was $179.88 million; internationally, it grossed $193.17 million according to the most recent figures found at Box Office Mojo.
And a recent domestic casualty, Guillermo del Toro's aforementioned $190 million-budgeted Pacific Rim, has pulled in only $78.66 million in the U.S. and Canada, but despite an uneven international performance the horror sci-fier has already scored $110.3 million abroad. Once again, it's because of the international market that those hefty-budgeted Hollywood movies continue to get made.
According to Deadline.com, The Wolverine opened in more than 100 territories this weekend. China and Japan (where The Wolverine is set) are the only two major markets where the film will be released at a later date.
The Wolverine's official weekend box office estimates will be released on Sunday morning. Weekend box office actuals come out on Monday.
Hugh Jackman toplines 'The Wolverine' cast
Besides Hugh Jackman, now with a Best Actor Academy Award pedigree (for Tom Hooper's Les Misérables), The Wolverine features Will Yun Lee, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Famke Janssen, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Brian Tee, Hal Yamanouchi, and Ken Yamamura. The screenplay is by Scott Frank (of the Steven Spielberg / Tom Cruise sci-fier Minority Report and the upcoming A Walk Among the Tombstones) and Mark Bomback (Len Wiseman / Colin Farrell's Total Recall, the upcoming Dawn of the Planet of the Apes).
The Wolverine director James Mangold's credits include the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, which earned Academy Award nominations for Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix; the Tom Cruise / Cameron Diaz actioner Knight and Day; the Hugh Jackman / Meg Ryan romantic comedy Kate & Leopold; and the 1999 drama Girl, Interrupted, which earned Angelina Jolie that year's Best Supporting Actress Oscar.
Hugh Jackman in The Wolverine photo: 20th Century Fox.