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‘White House Down’ Movie: Roland Emmerich Worst in Two Decades + Sandra Bullock Best Debut Ever

The Heat Melissa McCarthy Sandra Bullock
Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock in The Heat.
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1. Sandra Bullock The Heat: Bullock’s biggest opening weekend at domestic box office?

Sandra Bullock The Heat: Bullock’s biggest opening weekend at domestic box office?

July 1 update: Starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, Paul Feig’s buddy comedy The Heat opened with a remarkable – and better than initially expected – $39.11 million at 3,181 U.S. and Canada locations according to the June 28-30 weekend box office figures found at Boxofficemojo.com. This weekend in North America, The Heat trailed only last weekend’s holdover, Disney / Pixar’s Monsters University, which collected $45.6 million.

A 20th Century Fox release reportedly budgeted at $41 million (not including marketing and distribution expenses, or contractual box-office-gross-sharing obligations), The Heat went above the $35 million I’d predicted on Saturday because that day’s estimates found at Deadline.com were lower than in reality. The Heat was up 5 percent on Saturday, even though Friday’s box office take included late Thursday shows.

Also worth noting is that the studio’s Sunday box office estimate – $40 million – was nearly $1 million higher than The Heat‘s actual gross. That’s apparently because Fox expected a more modest Sunday drop-off rate in relation to the previous day.

The Heat vs. Bridesmaids, Identity Thief

For comparison’s sake: Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids, which earned Melissa McCarthy a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination, earned $26.24 million on its first weekend out in May 2011, eventually reaching $169.1 million in the United States and Canada, plus $119.27 million elsewhere. (See comparisons to Sandra Bullock movies below.)

Starring Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman, Seth Gordon’s Identity Thief debuted with $34.55 million in early February 2013, cuming at $134.5 million in North American, while raking in an additional $39.45 million internationally. The disappointing international gross shouldn’t come as a surprise, as neither McCarthy nor Bateman are international stars, and Identity Thief never became another Bridesmaids, a comedy whose risqué humor compensated for its lack of international big names.

Both in North America and internationally, expect The Heat‘s final box office gross to land somewhere between those of Bridesmaids and Identity Thief.

Sandra Bullock’s biggest opening weekends in North America

Best Actress Academy Award winner Sandra Bullock has starred in a not inconsiderable number of domestic box office hits in the last two decades or so, e.g., The Blind Side, The Proposal, Miss Congeniality, Two Weeks Notice, A Time to Kill, While You Were Sleeping, Speed. Looking at the list of Bullock’s opening-weekend grosses at Box Office Mojo, it’s clear that The Heat boasts her biggest debut-weekend ever – even when taking inflation into account.

Two 2009 Sandra Bullock movies, The Blind Side and The Proposal, opened with, respectively, $34.11 million and $33.62 million. Adjusted for inflation, each movie would have grossed around $35-$36 million. Even going back all the way to the blockbuster Speed, in which Bullock was paired up with Keanu Reeves, The Heat remains ahead: at 2,169 locations, Speed collected $14.45 million, or about $27 million in 2013 dollars.

Of note: Sandra Bullock has another movie coming out in 2013, the considerably less commercial, more serious-minded Gravity. Directed by Alfonso Cuarón and co-starring Academy Award winner George Clooney (Syriana), the solar-system-set, two-person psychological adventure drama opens on October 4. Expect buzz surrounding The Heat to rub off on Gravity, if not at the box office, then at least when it comes to awards season time, as voters will gently (or not so gently) be reminded of Bullock’s versatility as an actress.

The Heat stars Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy

In addition to stars Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, The Heat‘s cast includes Best Actor Oscar nominee Demián Bichir (A Better Life), Michael Rapaport, Dan Bakkedahl, Taran Killam, Marlon Wayans, Spoken Reasons, Michael McDonald, and veteran Jane Curtin. Katie Dippold (Parks and Recreation, MADtv) is credited for the film’s screenplay – which has nothing in common with Michael Mann’s thriller Heat, which starred Al Pacino and Robert De Niro back in 1995.

Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock in The Heat image: 20th Century Fox.

June 30 p.m.

White House Down movie Channing Tatum
White House Down with Channing Tatum.

White House Down movie box-office: $150 million actioner bombs in North America

Directed by Roland Emmerich, renowned (or reviled, depending on your movie tastes) for his mass-marketed, braindead blockbusters Independence Day, Godzilla, The Patriot, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012, the 2013 $150 million-budgeted actioner White House Down lived up to its title. Down in fourth place this weekend, White House Down, which stars Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, suffered the worst inflation-adjusted opening weekend of a big-budget Roland Emmerich movie since the Jean-Claude Van Damme / Dolph Lundgren star vehicle Universal Soldier back in 1992 – more than two decades ago.

At 1,916 theaters, Universal Soldier scored $10.05 million on its first weekend out, the equivalent of about $19 million today, according to figures found at Boxofficemojo.com. Sony Pictures’ White House Down, for its part, took in an estimated $25.7 million from 3,222 sites – including $1.35 million from Thursday evening shows – this weekend, June 28-30, 2013, scoring $7,976 per venue, a mediocre figure for such a big-budget, high-profile movie. [Update: White House Down grossed $24.85 million, nearly one million less than originally estimated and below the $25 million mark.]

Note: Starring Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger, The Patriot scored $22.41 million in late June 2000, which translates into approximately $33 million today. Starring Kurt Russell, Stargate earned $16.65 million in late October 1994, or about $31.5 million today. Excluding the low-budget Anonymous and taking inflation into account, White House Down and Universal Soldier are the only two Roland Emmerich movies in the last two decades – or rather, 21 years – to have debuted with less than $30 million at the North American box office.

For comparison’s sake: Starring Will Smith, Bill Pullman, and Jeff Goldblum, Independence Day grossed $50.22 million at 2,882 venues on its first weekend out in early July 1996. That translates into around $90 million in 2013. The sci-fi actioner’s five-and-a-half-day cume (it opened in mid-week) was $96.1 million, or approximately $173 million adjusted. Even without taking inflation into account, White House Down has just about zero chances of reaching that figure during its entire domestic run.

Here’s another comparison: Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx are the two “buddies” in White House Down. But the buddy movie North American audiences paid to watch this weekend was Paul Feig’s The Heat, starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. The Heat raked in an estimated $40 million.

Olympus Has Fallen vs. White House Down

Should one blame White House Down‘s domestic box office under-performance on Antoine Fuqua’s similarly themed Olympus Has Fallen, starring Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart, and which came out in February 2013? Well, to some extent, audiences may have felt a sense of déjà vu: one White House Under Attack movie is perhaps enough for one calendar year. Olympus Has Fallen, whose $70 million budget was less than half that of White House Down, opened with $30.37 million in the U.S. and Canada last February.

But let’s not forget that the release of two similarly themed films within the space of months doesn’t necessarily spell disaster for the second title. Last year, Tarsem Singh’s Snow White movie Mirror Mirror, starring Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, and Armie Hammer, opened a few months before Rupert SandersSnow White and the Huntsman. However, the latter title, which starred Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, and Sam Claflin, far outperformed Mirror Mirror not only in the U.S. and Canada, but also around the world. Perhaps much of it depends on the marketing: making sure the second movie looks nothing at all like the first one.

Also not helping were lackluster reviews. White House Down has a mediocre 53 percent approval rating and 5.6/10 average at Rotten Tomatoes.

Sony Pictures, for its part, must be fervently hoping that White House Down will far outperform Olympus Has Fallen at the international box office. The Gerard Butler actioner grossed a quite disappointing $62.1 million outside North America, according to figures found at Box Office Mojo. White House Down opens in its first major international markets in mid-July.

Channing Tatum stars in White House Down

Macho White House Down star Channing Tatum has had better luck with his female-oriented romantic melodramas at the domestic box office. For instance, The Vow, co-starring Rachel McAdams, debuted with $41.2 million, while Dear John, co-starring Amanda Seyfried, opened with $30.46 million. Not to mention Magic Mike, co-starring Matt Bomer and other semi-naked strippers, which debuted with $39.12 million.

Besides Channing Tatum, the White House Down cast includes Django Unchained‘s Jamie Foxx, Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart), Best Actor Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins (The Visitor), Zero Dark Thirty‘s Jason Clarke, Twilight and New Moon‘s Rachelle Lefevre, Joey King, Nicolas Wright, Jake Weber, Jimmi Simpson, Lance Reddick, Matt Craven, James Woods, and veteran Michael Murphy (Diane Keaton’s boyfriend in Woody Allen’s Manhattan, Jill Clayburgh’s cheating husband in Paul Mazursky’s An Unmarried Woman).

The White House Down screenplay is credited to James Vanderbilt, among whose credits are The Amazing Spider-Man, the upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and the RoboCop remake.

Channing Tatum in White House Down movie photo: Sony Pictures.

June 30 early a.m.

The Heat is on: Weekend box office of Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock comedy is solid – but hardly outstanding

Paul Feig’s comedy The Heat, starring Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock, is having a solid – though hardly outstanding – debut weekend. (Image: Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock in The Heat.)

First things first: the no. 1 slot on the U.S. and Canada box office chart this weekend, June 28-30, belongs to last weekend’s champ, Disney / Pixar’s animated feature Monsters University. Featuring the voices of Billy Crystal, John Goodman, and Helen Mirren, among others, Monsters University could easily collect $45 million by Sunday evening, after grossing $14.28 million on Friday according to studio estimates found at Boxofficemojo.com. Its domestic cume should then reach close to $170 million.

At no. 2, 20th Century Fox’s The Heat will likely reach $35 million from 3,181 locations, after having earned an estimated $13.6 million – including $1 million from late Thursday shows. Deadline.com is estimating $40 million for the weekend, but based on the film’s Friday and Saturday grosses (unofficially, about $13 million on Saturday), that seems much too high.

For comparison’s sake: Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids, which earned Melissa McCarthy a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination, opened with $26.24 million in May 2011, cuming at $169.1 million in North America, in addition to $119.27 million internationally. According to Box Office Mojo, Bridesmaids’ top international territories by a wide margin were, unsurprisingly, two English-speaking countries where Hollywood comedies usually perform much better than elsewhere: the United Kingdom ($37.21 million) and Australia ($28.68 million). In no other territory did Bridesmaids bring in more than $10 million. (Note: data for some territories is incomplete.)

Here’s another comparison: Starring Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman, Identity Thief opened with $34.55 million in early February 2013. The Seth Gordon-directed comedy cumed at $134.5 million in the U.S. and Canada, grossing an additional $39.45 million internationally. The disappointing international gross shouldn’t come as a surprise, as neither McCarthy nor Bateman are international stars. Identity Thief‘s biggest markets were the United Kingdom with $7.46 million and Australia with $7.07 million, followed by Germany with $5.58 million. According to figures found at Box Office Mojo, in no other territory did Identity Thief gross above $5 million.

Internationally, expect The Heat to land somewhere between Identity Thief and Bridesmaids, as the latter film’s risqué (crass?) humor compensated for its lack of international big names.

Official weekend box office estimates come out on Sunday morning. Weekend box office actuals will be released on Monday.

Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock topline The Heat movie cast

The Heat was budgeted at a reported $41 million, not including marketing and distribution costs (or contractual shares of its box office gross). Besides Melissa McCarthy and Best Actress Oscar winner Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side), The Heat features Best Actor Oscar nominee Demián Bichir (A Better Life), Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport, Dan Bakkedahl, Taran Killam, Spoken Reasons, Michael McDonald, and veteran Jane Curtin. Katie Dippold (Parks and Recreation, MADtv) is credited for the film’s screenplay – which is not based on the Michael Mann-directed Al Pacino / Robert De Niro thriller Heat.

Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock in The Heat photo: 20th Century Fox.

‘White House Down’ movie: Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx actioner is a dud

Upcoming Fourth of July holiday or no, Roland Emmerich’s $150 million-budgeted blow ’em-up actioner White House Down, starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, will in all likelihood open in fourth place at the domestic box office this weekend, June 28-30, 2013, in case Saturday estimates found at Deadline.com are on target. (Image: Channing Tatum in White House Down.)

According to Boxofficemojo.com, at 3,222 locations, White House Down brought in an estimated $9 million on Friday, including $1.35 million from late Thursday shows – only about $60,000 more than the Marc Forster / Brad Pitt zombie movie World War Z on its second weekend out. As per Deadline.com, the two movies reversed positions on Saturday, with World War Z jumping to $11.4 million while White House Down remained stuck at around $9 million.

Ultimately, if those unofficial estimates are on target, World War Z should collect $28-$29 million by Sunday evening, while White House Down will be lucky if it passes the $25 million mark. That’s very bad news indeed for the Sony Pictures release; in fact, even while ignoring marketing and distribution costs, Roland Emmerich’s actioner will never earn back its gargantuan budget at the North American box office – not even close. And it’ll need quite a bit of luck and good will to achieve that feat at the worldwide box office.

White House Down vs. Olympus Has Fallen

Sony Pictures must be ardently hoping that, outside North America, White House Down will far outperform Antoine Fuqua’s similarly themed Olympus Has Fallen. Starring Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart, earlier this year the White House-set actioner cumed at a very disappointing $62.1 million internationally as per figures found at Box Office Mojo. White House Down opens in its first major international markets in mid-July. Olympus Has Fallen, by the way, debuted with $30.37 million in the U.S. and Canada last February.

Also worth mentioning is that the release of two similarly themed movies in the same year doesn’t necessarily spell disaster for the “follow-up” title. Case in point: Tarsem Singh’s Mirror Mirror, starring Julia Roberts, Armie Hammer, and Lily Collins, and Rupert Sanders’ Snow White and the Huntsman, starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, and Sam Claflin. Both movies opened in 2012; as it turned out, Snow White and the Huntsman came out a few months after Mirror Mirror – and was a much bigger hit worldwide.

White House Down: Worst big-budget Roland Emmerich opening in more than two decades?

Apart from the low-budget Anonymous, hardly your typical Roland Emmerich braindead actioner, if those unofficial weekend box office estimates are on target White House Down will have the director’s lowest opening weekend (adjusted for inflation) in more than two decades – since the Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren star vehicle Universal Soldier back in 1992. At 1,916 theaters, Universal Soldier debuted with $10.05 million, or about $19 million today. Of note: both Mel Gibson / Heath Ledger’s The Patriot and Kurt Russell’s Stargate opened above the $30 million mark once their figures are adjusted for inflation.

For comparison’s sake: Starring Will Smith, Bill Pullman, and Jeff Goldblum, Independence Day earned $50.22 million at 2,882 locations on its first weekend in early July 1996. That represents about $90 million today. The sci-fi actioner’s five-and-a-half-day cume (it opened on Wednesday, plus Tuesday previews) was $96.1 million, or approximately $173 million adjusted.

Official weekend box office estimates come out on Sunday morning. Weekend box office actuals will be released on Monday.

Channing Tatum toplines White House Down cast

Besides Channing Tatum, who has had better luck with his female-oriented romantic melodramas like The Vow and Dear John (not to mention Magic Mike), White House Down features Django Unchained‘s Jamie Foxx, Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart), Best Actor Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins (The Visitor), Zero Dark Thirty‘s Jason Clarke, Twilight and New Moon‘s Rachelle Lefevre, Joey King, Jimmi Simpson, Nicolas Wright, Jake Weber, Lance Reddick, James Woods, Matt Craven, and veteran Michael Murphy (Paul Mazursky’s An Unmarried Woman, Woody Allen’s Manhattan). The White House Down screenplay is credited to James Vanderbilt (the upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the RoboCop remake).

The no. 5 movie this weekend is bound to be Zack Snyder / Henry Cavill’s Superman reboot Man of Steel, which should be able to rake in about $19-20 million, after earning an estimated $6.01 million on Friday.

Channing Tatum in White House Down photo: Sony Pictures.

June 29

White House Down movie Channing Tatum dud
White House Down movie with Channing Tatum.

White House Down box office: Ahead of World War Z?

Roland Emmerich’s $150 million-budgeted actioner White House Down was to have landed in the fourth slot on the domestic box office chart on Friday, June 28, behind Marc Forster / Brad Pitt’s horror sleeper hit World War Z. The Sandra Bullock / Melissa McCarthy comedy The Heat, for its part, was expected to be the no. 1 movie at the North American box office, according to early, rough estimates posted at Deadline.com in the afternoon. Well, what a difference a few hours make. [Update: What a difference another few hours make… Studio estimates turned out to be lower than the early unofficial estimates, with The Heat collecting $13.6 million and White House Down earning a dismal $9 million. More details and weekend box office analysis later this evening.]

At 3,222 locations, White House Down should collect an estimated $10.5 million on Friday, including $1.35 million from late Thursday shows, while World War Z has had its Friday box office gross revised downward to $9.3 million. If these updated, unofficial estimates are on target, that means this Friday White House Down will trail only The Heat and Monsters University.

Good news? Well, at the end of the day a $10.5 million opening-day gross for a movie that cost $150 million isn’t very good news at all, whether that movie lands in third, fourth, tenth, or first place. As mentioned in my previous post, White House Down‘s only hope of recovering its production budget at the box office – even while ignoring prints & advertising and other costs – will be the international market. Even then, only with a whole lot of luck.

Sony Pictures must be ardently hoping that White House Down will far outperform Antoine Fuqua’s similarly themed Olympus Has Fallen. Starring Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart, earlier this year the White House-set actioner cumed at a disappointing $62.1 million internationally.

Channing Tatum toplines White House Down cast

Besides Channing Tatum, White House Down features Best Actor Oscar winner Jamie Foxx (Taylor Hackford’s Ray), Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart), Best Actor Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins (The Visitor), Jason Clarke, Joey King, Rachelle Lefevre, Jimmi Simpson, Nicolas Wright, James Woods, Matt Craven, Jake Weber, Lance Reddick, and veteran Michael Murphy (Paul Mazursky’s An Unmarried Woman, Woody Allen’s Manhattan). The White House Down screenplay is credited to James Vanderbilt (The Amazing Spider-Man, the upcoming RoboCop remake).

The Heat behind hotter Monsters University?

Chances were – or so I thought – that 20th Century Fox’s The Heat would top the domestic box office on Friday. Not so, according to revised figures posted at Deadline. Having said that, I should add that the North American box office jury is still up: According to Deadline’s sources, Monsters University is expected to take in $15.2 million while The Heat would land at no. 2 with a not unimpressive $15 million, including $1 million from late Thursday shows. And that’s really too close to call.

We’ll find out for sure whether Friday’s top slot belongs to Monsters University only on Saturday morning, after studios release their official estimates. And bear in mind that if the gap between the two movies remains that narrow, we’ll find out which movie held the no. 1 spot on Friday only once box office actuals are released on Monday. Either way, The Heat has shown once again the domestic box office power of female-centered buddy movies.

The Heat cast

Directed by Bridesmaids’ Paul Feig, The Heat cost a reported $41 million, not including marketing and distribution expenses (or any sort of contractual sharing of the film’s box office gross). Besides Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, The Heat features Best Actor Oscar nominee Demián Bichir (Chris Weitz’s A Better Life), Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport, Spoken Reasons, Dan Bakkedahl, Taran Killam, Michael McDonald, and veteran Jane Curtin. Katie Dippold (Parks and Recreation, MADtv) is credited for the film’s screenplay.

The no. 5 movie on Friday will be Zack Snyder / Henry Cavill’s Superman reboot Man of Steel, which is expected to collect $6.1 million – at the very lower end of Friday’s early estimates.

Channing Tatum in White House Down photo: Sony Pictures.

June 28

The Heat movie box office: Monsters University offers tough Friday competition

It’s a dead-heat (sorry) between the Sandra Bullock / Melissa McCarthy movie comedy The Heat and the Disney / Pixar animated feature Monsters University at the North American box office this Friday, June 28. Roland Emmerich’s White House Down is down (sorry again) in fourth place, according to very early, very rough Friday box office estimates found at Deadline.com.

Directed by Bridesmaids’ Paul Feig, the 20th Century Fox release The Heat collected $1 million from late Thursday shows. Including that figure, The Heat should reach $13-$16 million from 3,181 locations on Friday – which is about the same expected gross for Monsters University. The Heat, of course, has the advantage not only of the Thursday shows, but also of the Friday late-night crowd. Chances are the Sandra Bullock / Melissa McCarthy star vehicle will indeed top the North American box office chart on its opening day.

Of note: Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids, which earned Melissa McCarthy a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination, opened with $26.24 million in May 2011, going on to gross $169.1 million in the U.S. and Canada, in addition to $119.27 million internationally. Bridesmaids’ top international territories by far were, unsurprisingly, two English-speaking countries where Hollywood comedies usually fare better than elsewhere: the United Kingdom ($37.21 million) and Australia ($28.68 million). In no other territory did Bridesmaids earn more than $10 million. (Note: data for some territories is incomplete.)

Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy topline The Heat movie cast

The Heat cost a reported $41 million, not including marketing and distribution expenses. Besides Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, The Heat features Best Actor Academy Award nominee Demián Bichir (A Better Life), Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport, Jane Curtin, Spoken Reasons, Dan Bakkedahl, Taran Killam, and Michael McDonald. Katie Dippold (Parks and Recreation, MADtv) is credited for the screenplay.

White House Down box office: Number four?

At 3,222 locations, White House Down should collect an estimated $9-$11 million on Friday, including $1.35 million from late Thursday shows. If those early, rough estimates are on target – and they seem to be at the very lower end of expectations – White House Down should trail not only The Heat and Monsters University, but also the Marc Forster / Brad Pitt horror thriller World War Z, which should land slightly behind the first two movies, with approximately $10-$12 million on Friday.

If so, that will be bad news indeed for distributor Sony Pictures, which is releasing the $150 million-budgeted production. White House Down‘s only hope to recover its huge costs will be the international market, where almost invariably blow ’em-up movies fare much better than comedies such as The Heat. Almost invariably.

Last February, Antoine Fuqua’s similarly themed Olympus Has Fallen, starring Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart, opened with $30.37 million. The White House-set actioner ultimately cumed at $98.66 million in North America, plus a disappointing $62.1 million internationally.

White House Down cast

Besides Channing Tatum and Best Actor Oscar winner Jamie Foxx (Ray), White House Down stars Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart), Jason Clarke, Joey King, Best Actor Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins (The Visitor), Michael Murphy, Rachelle Lefevre, Jimmi Simpson, Nicolas Wright, James Woods, Matt Craven, Jake Weber, and Lance Reddick. The White House Down screenplay is credited to James Vanderbilt (The Amazing Spider-Man 2, RoboCop).

The no. 5 movie on Friday should be Zack Snyder / Henry Cavill’s Superman reboot Man of Steel, which is expected to collect $6-$9 million.

Monsters University
Monsters University.

‘Monsters University’ and ‘World War Z’ box office: Monsters hungry for knowledge and zombies hungry for humans bring down Man of Steel

June 24 update: Here’s a quick rundown of this past weekend, June 21–23 at the North American box office. If studio estimates found at Boxofficemojo.com are on target, Pixar / Disney’s Monsters University surpassed expectations, grossing $82 million at 4,4004 locations. Approximately 30 percent of the gross came from 3D shows. (Image: Monsters University artwork.)

Directed by Dan Scanlon, Monsters University features the voices of John Goodman, Helen Mirren, Billy Crystal, Nathan Fillion, Aubrey Plaza, Steve Buscemi, John Krasinski, Peter Sohn, Dave Foley, Sean Murray, Bonnie Hunt, Julia Sweeney, Sean Hayes, Alfred Molina, Tyler Labine, Bill Hader, Bob Peterson, and John Ratzenberger. Screenplay credit for the Monsters, Inc. sequel has gone to director Scanlon, Daniel Gerson, and Robert L. Baird.

Starring Brad Pitt as a man having a number of close encounters of the living-dead kind, Paramount’s Marc Forster-directed World War Z also surpassed expectations, collecting an estimated $66 million from 3,607 locations. That figure is about $15 million above what many box office pundits had been expecting.

Besides Brad Pitt, World War Z’ features Mireille Enos, Matthew Fox, David Morse, Daniella Kertesz, Fana Mokoena, Peter Capaldi, James Badge Dale, Ludi Boeken, Elyes Gabel, Pierfrancesco Favino, Ruth Negga, Moritz Bleibtreu, Michiel Huisman, Abigail Hargrove, and Fabrizio Zacharee Guido.

Based on a book by Max Brooks – son of Mel Brooks and Best Actress Academy Award winner Anne Bancroft (The Miracle Worker) – the World War Z screenplay is credited to Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard, and Damon Lindelof, from a “story” by Carnahan and J. Michael Straczynski.

Man of Steel loses box office strength

Warner Bros.’ 2013 Superman reboot, Man of Steel, was down an alarming 66 percent compared to the previous weekend (not including $12 million earned from Thursday previews). After passing the $200 million milestone this weekend, Man of Steel will now face an uphill road toward the $300 million milestone. The film’s current cume is $210 million.

Directed by Zack Snyder, Man of Steel stars Henry Cavill in the title role. Cavill’s fellow cast member include Kevin Costner, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Christopher Meloni, Antje Traue, Dylan Sprayberry, Ayelet Zurer, Mackenzie Gray, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Kelly, Harry Lennix, Richard Schiff, Richard Cretone, and Cooper Timberline.

The Man of Steel screenplay is credited to David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises), from a story by Goyer and Batman trilogy filmmaker Christopher Nolan. Nolan is also one of the film’s producers.

This Is the End holds steady

At no. 4 at the North American box office was Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s apocalyptic comedy This Is the End, which features, among others, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Emma Watson, Danny McBride, and Michael Cera, and which took in $13 million (cume $57.79 million). Next in line were Louis Leterrier’s heist thriller Now You See Me, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Isla Fischer, with $7.87 million (cume $94.45 million); and Justin Lin’s Fast & Furious 6, starring Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, and Dwayne Johnson, with $4.72 million (cume $228.41 million).

Rounding out the top twelve at the North American box office were the following:

  • The Owen Wilson / Vince Vaughn comedy The Internship with $3.42 million (cume $38.36 million).
  • The low-budget horror movie The Purge, starring Ethan Hawke, with $3.41 million (cume $59.42 million).
  • Star Trek: Into Darkness, featuring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Benedict Cumberbatch, with $3 million (cume $216.61 million).
  • Shane Black / Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man 3 with $2.17 million (cume $403.12 million).
  • Sofia Coppola / Emma Watson’s The Bling Ring with $2 million (cume $2.34 million).
  • The animated 20th Century Fox feature Epic with $1.73 million (cume $100.98 million).

Of note, after three weekends, the low-budget The Purge has earned more at the North American than M. Night Shyamalan / Will Smith’s After Earth, whose cume is $57.3 million after four weekends.

I’ll be posting a more thorough box office article on Monday afternoon, once North American weekend box office actuals are released.

Monsters University art: Disney Enterprises / Pixar.

June 23

World War Z Brad Pitt actor
Brad Pitt in World War Z.

World War Z weekend box office: Monsters rule, but zombies are the big surprise hit

World War Z, Brad Pitt, and his living-dead pals have turned out to be the big (happy) surprise at the North American box office this weekend, June 21-23, 2013. In case Friday’s estimates are on target, the $190-$200 million-budgeted World War Z should collect $57-$60 million by Sunday evening, or about $10-$15 million more than many pundits had been expecting. Yesterday, World War Z opened with $25 million – about $5 million above early estimates – from 3,607 locations according to studio estimates found at Boxofficemojo.com. That figure includes $3.6 million from Thursday evening screenings.

In case there’s a Saturday surge for Marc Forster’s Paramount-distributed PG-13 zombie movie, World War Z could actually go quite a bit beyond the $60 million mark. That’s good news for the studio and for producer Brad Pitt, as the film was a troubled investment. Yet, there’s no chance the ravenous zombie mobs will succeed in generating enough cash at the North American box office to push the movie into the black. If World War Z is to recover its cost at the box office (i.e., excluding ancillary revenues), that’ll happen only after international figures are tallied.

Besides Brad Pitt, World War Z’ features Mireille Enos, Matthew Fox, Fana Mokoena, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale, David Morse, Ludi Boeken, Peter Capaldi, Ruth Negga, Moritz Bleibtreu, Elyes Gabel, Pierfrancesco Favino, Michiel Huisman, Abigail Hargrove, and Fabrizio Zacharee Guido. Based on a book by Max Brooks (son of Anne Bancroft and Mel Brooks), the World War Z screenplay is credited to Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard, and Damon Lindelof, from a screenplay (or “story”) by Carnahan and J. Michael Straczynski.

Monsters University atop the North American box office chart

Despite its undeniable success, World War Z will not top the U.S. and Canada box office chart this weekend. Instead, the no. 1 movie will be a radically different kind of monster movie, Disney / Pixar’s Monsters University, which collected approximately $30.5 million on Friday, including $2.6 million from Thursday evening screenings. That’s at the higher end of late Friday estimates.

Currently at 4,004 locations, Monsters University will likely reach $75 million – or perhaps even close to $80 million in case the animated feature enjoys an unexpected Saturday / Sunday surge. Ignoring inflation, Monsters University will thus boast the second biggest opening weekend ever for a Pixar movie, behind only Toy Story 3‘s $110.3 million. Once inflation is factored in, Monsters University will also trail Finding Nemo and The Incredibles.

Directed by Dan Scanlon, Monsters University features the voices of Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Helen Mirren, Steve Buscemi, Nathan Fillion, Aubrey Plaza, Dave Foley, John Krasinski, Peter Sohn, Sean Murray, Julia Sweeney, Sean Hayes, Alfred Molina, Tyler Labine, Bonnie Hunt, Bill Hader, Bob Peterson, and John Ratzenberger. The screenplay of the Monsters, Inc. sequel is credited to director Scanlon, Daniel Gerson, and Robert L. Baird.

Man of Steel not to reach $50 million?

According to early box office estimates, Zack Snyder / Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel was to have been the third movie to pass the $50 million mark at the domestic box office this weekend. However, instead of the expected $17-$19 million, Warner Bros.’ Superman reboot took in an estimated $12.7 million. Barring a phenomenal Saturday surge, Man of Steel will likely end up with only $40-41 million by Sunday evening – a hefty 65 percent drop-off rate from last weekend (obviously, not including Thursday previews).

Besides Henry Cavill as Clark Kent a.k.a. Superman, the Man of Steel cast includes Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Antje Traue, Christopher Meloni, Dylan Sprayberry, Ayelet Zurer, Laurence Fishburne, Mackenzie Gray, Michael Kelly, Harry Lennix, Richard Schiff, Richard Cretone, and Cooper Timberline.

The Man of Steel screenplay is credited to David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises), from a story by Goyer and Batman trilogy filmmaker Christopher Nolan. Nolan is also one of the film’s credited producers.

Remember: official weekend box office estimates for World War Z, Monsters University, Man of Steel, and other movies currently on North American screens will be released on Sunday morning. Weekend box office actuals come out on Monday.

Brad Pitt in World War Z photo: Paramount Pictures.

June 22

‘World War Z’ box office vs. ‘Monsters University’ vs. ‘Man of Steel’

The North American box office will be huge this weekend, June 21-23, 2013. You’ve surely read that elsewhere, and it’s no exaggeration. The combined gross of the top three movies alone – Monsters University, World War Z, Man of Steel – should hover around $180 million. Now, what remains to be seen is if there’ll be any dollars (whether Canadian or American) left for the dozens of other movies on North American screens. It’s like having huge supermarkets making little neighborhood stores disappear from view. But hey, that seems to be exactly what the moviegoing public wants.

According to early, rough estimates found at Deadline.com, Disney / Pixar’s Monsters University will easily top the domestic box office following a Friday gross around $25-$28 million, in addition to $2.6 million from Thursday evening screenings. Currently at 4,004 locations, Monsters University will likely reach $70-$75 million – or, with luck, perhaps even up to $80 million in case there’s an unexpected Saturday / Sunday surge. If so, that means Monsters University will have the second biggest opening weekend ever for a Pixar movie, behind only Toy Story 3‘s $110.3 million.

Now, once you realize that inflation is a fact of life, you’ll see that Pixar movies such as Finding Nemo and The Incredibles – without the assistance of 3D surcharges – actually not only sold more tickets but also grossed more than Monsters University is expected to take in this weekend. Released in 2003, Finding Nemo collected $70.25 million or approximately $92.5 million today, while The Incredibles earned $70.46 million or about $90 million today.

Monsters University budget, voice cast

I haven’t been able to find an exact budget figure for Monsters University, but Cars 2 and Toy Story 3 cost a reported $200 million, while Brave came in cheap at $185 million.

Directed by Dan Scanlon, Monsters University features the voices of Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Helen Mirren, Steve Buscemi, Peter Sohn, Sean Murray, Dave Foley, Sean Hayes, Alfred Molina, Nathan Fillion, Tyler Labine, Aubrey Plaza, Julia Sweeney, Bonnie Hunt, John Krasinski, Bill Hader, Bob Peterson, and John Ratzenberger. The screenplay of the Monsters, Inc. sequel is credited to director Scanlon, Daniel Gerson, and Robert L. Baird.

World War Z box office: $50 million debut?

The no. 2 spot this weekend is iffy: World War Z or Man of Steel? On Friday, it apparently belonged to Marc Forster’s Paramount-distributed World War Z, about zombies fighting discrimination in order to attend college, while Brad Pitt provides them with support and counseling. (Kidding.) At 3,607 theaters, World War Z is expected to collect about $20 million on Friday, including $3.6 million from Thursday evening shows.

Featuring Brad Pitt as the American Man out to save the world from ravenous zombies – so the human race can be wiped out by global warming instead – World War Z will surely pass the $50 million mark by Sunday evening. How high will it reach? Well, if it follows the path of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, World War Z will open with about $50-$51 million.

But remember, those zombies groan, but don’t bite: whereas Prometheus was rated R, World War Z is a PG-13 movie, which means more 12-year-olds, ahem, more 14-year-olds buying tickets without an accompanying 18-year-old. World War Z could easily reach $55 million, or perhaps even edge close to $60 million. That’s about $10 million more than some box office pundits had been predicting.

World War Z reviews, Brad Pitt cancels trip to Brazil

Reviews for the $190-$200 million-budgeted horror drama have been mostly positive, though hardly enthusiastic. World War Z has a 71 percent approval rating and 6.4 average among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics. Of note, after touring Europe on behalf of his film, actor-producer Brad Pitt canceled his Brazilian World War Z promo trip because of the widespread demonstrations in that country against, among other things, public money being spent on preparations for the World Cup and the Olympic Games. (And you – if in the U.S. – thought that the NBA finals and the revelation that TV chef Paula Deen used an ethnic slur a few years back were the momentous events of the week, of global importance and far-reaching sociopolitical implications…)

Besides Brad Pitt, World War Z’ features Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale, Matthew Fox, Fana Mokoena, David Morse, Ludi Boeken, Elyes Gabel, Peter Capaldi, Moritz Bleibtreu, Pierfrancesco Favino, Ruth Negga, Michiel Huisman, Abigail Hargrove, and Fabrizio Zacharee Guido. Based on a novel by Max Brooks (son of Anne Bancroft and Mel Brooks), the World War Z screenplay is credited to Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard, and Damon Lindelof, from a screenplay (“story”) by Carnahan and J. Michael Straczynski.

Man of Steel: Third $50+ million movie this weekend?

Man of Steel could also surge past the $50 million milestone at the domestic box office this weekend, after grossing somewhere between $17-$19 million on Friday. Directed by Zack Snyder and starring Henry Cavill, Man of Steel‘s current domestic cume stands at $168.79 million. That means, the latest Superman reboot will be passing the $200 million milestone on Saturday.

Besides Henry Cavill as Clark Kent a.k.a. Superman, the Man of Steel cast includes Michael Shannon, Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, Christopher Meloni, Antje Traue, Dylan Sprayberry, Laurence Fishburne, Ayelet Zurer, Mackenzie Gray, Michael Kelly, Richard Schiff, Harry Lennix, Cooper Timberline, and Richard Cretone.

The Man of Steel screenplay is credited to David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises), from a story by Goyer and Batman trilogy filmmaker Christopher Nolan. Nolan is also one of the film’s producers.

Brad Pitt in World War Z photo: Paramount Pictures.

Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock in The Heat movie photo: 20th Century Fox.

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Pop Vulture -

I like Sandra B a lot, but I think that this was Melissa M’s opening more than Sandra B’s.

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