It was the attack of the super sequels this past weekend at the North American box office as Sony/MGM’s 22 Jump Street beat Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon 2 for the top spot. Both films had big openings and knocked last week’s champ, The Fault In Our Stars, from first to fifth place. Thanks to the arrival of these two films, the box office was up 15% over last weekend but still down nine percent from a year ago at this time.
21 Jump Street opened in the spring of 2012 and became a sleeper hit, debuting with a big $36 million en route to a great $132 million final total. Because big box office is what drives sequels as opposed to the need to wrap up or continue a story, a sequel was pretty much a given. With directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller returning to call the shots and stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum lined up to reprise their roles, the imaginatively titled 22 Jump Street was put into production last year. The anticipated sequel arrived on 3,306 screens last Thursday night to commandeer a massive $57 million in its first three days of release.
Reviews were equally as strong for this second comedic riff on the old Johnny Depp crime show that ran on Fox back in the ’80s. The nation’s critics gave the film 84% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is practically unheard of for a comedy sequel. The big numbers and critical raves for 22 Jump Street have made an already incredible year for Lord and Miller even better. After all, the duo was responsible for the great The Lego Movie, which currently remains the highest-grossing film of 2014. I’ll refrain from making an “Everything Is Awesome” joke at this point. Overseas, 22 Jump Street has earned $20 million from a small handful of territories. Despite the big opening, no one is talking about a third film, at least not yet.
Four years ago, How to Train Your Dragon arrived during the Easter time period to earn close to a half billion in global ticket sales. Critics dug it, ticket buyers obviously did as well and the film even managed to be nominated for Best Animated Feature.
Reuniting one of the directors and most of the voice cast of the original, How to Train Your Dragon 2 arrived on 4,253 screens this weekend to earn a good-but-not-great $49.4 million.
So, when is nearly $50 million good but not great? When you have a highly anticipated sequel, the family market all to yourself and the nation’s critics have your back (93% Rotten Tomatoes approval rating). If those three factors and a screen count well over 4,000 isn’t enough to inflate your bottom line then something is off.
The gross for Dragon 2 was forecasted to be in the $60 million range for Dreamworks Animation with an all-but-guaranteed #1 opening similar to the debuts for its Madagascar sequels. Instead, it got beat by an R-rated comedy on close to 900 fewer screens that didn’t have the benefit of 3D or IMAX ticket surcharges. While the film will no doubt keep afloat thanks to family matinees, there is a pretty good chance that Dragon 2 may not match the original’s $217 million final haul in the States, which is something the troubled Dreamworks Animation does not need to hear these days.
Disney’s Maleficent displayed decent legs in its third weekend as the Angelina Jolie blockbuster slid only 46% in its third weekend on 3,623 screens. The fantasy earned $18.5 million to bring its domestic total to a fine $163 million. Depending on the holds over the next few weeks, Angie could be looking at her first $200 million live-action hit domestically. Overseas, the movie has earned a great $274 million. The movie should earn close to $600 million by the end of its run.
Word of mouth on the Tom Cruise Sci-Fi flick Edge of Tomorrow apparently was decent enough to help the film from dropping into obscurity in its second weekend. The Doug Liman-directed feature lost only 42% of its opening weekend crowds to earn $16.5 million on 3,505 screens. To date, the film has earned $57 million domestically and may wind down its run with an underwhelming $80 million. Coming to the film’s rescue was the overseas markets. They have collared a big $181 million thus far to bring its global total to $238 million.
Rounding out the top five was last week’s number one film, The Fault In Our Stars. The book’s legion of fans showed up on opening weekend as evidenced by the films steep 69% drop in business this past weekend. Fox shouldn’t be too concerned by the fast fade. Every penny the film earned after its first two or three days has to be pure profit given the $12 million production budget. On 3,273 screens, The Fault In Our Stars earned $14.7 million this weekend to bring its ten-day total to a great $80.7 million. The movie should come close to the $100 million mark by the end of its run. Overseas markets have added $38.8 million so far.
The remainder of the top ten is as follows:
6. X-Men: Days of Future Past (Fox) $9.8 million (-35%); $206 million
7. Godzilla (2014- Warner) $3.3 million (-45%); $191 million
8. A Million Ways to Die in the West (Universal) $3.2 million (-56%); $37 million
9. Neighbors (Universal) $2.3 million (-55%); $143 million
10. Chef (Open Road Films) $2.2 million (-17%); $14 million
Next weekend sees the arrival of Clint Eastwood’s film adaptation of the Broadway smash Jersey Boys and the sequel Think Like a Man Too. Neither will overtake the number one spot (Think might have if they opened it on more than 2,000 screens) so don’t be too shocked if Dragon 2 climbs into the top spot.