Weekend Box Office: Transformers Lead Dismal Fourth of July Weekend

A weak selection of film offerings helped the North American box office nosedive over the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Last weekend’s champ, Transformers: Age of Extinction, stayed at number one while holding off second place finisher Tammy and the dismal openings of Earth to Echo and Deliver Us From Evil. The top ten was down a steep 48% from last year at this time when Despicable Me 2 debuted with $83.5 million and The Lone Ranger opened with $29.2 million.

After opening last weekend with $100 million, Transformers: Age of Extinction dropped 64% in its second round on 4,233 screens to earn $36.4 million in its sophomore session. After ten days of domestic release, its total stands at $174.7 million. In comparison to the second weekend drops for previous Transformers films, the 64% decline for Age is the worst so far. Revenge of the Fallen fell 62%, Dark of the Moon fell 51%, and the 2007 original declined 47%.

Steep declines in the second weekend are nothing new with big event pics such as Age of Extinction. As we all know, the die-hard fans usually head out on opening day or weekend. Still, 64% is a precipitous drop and the fact that the film is currently lagging some 25% behind Dark of the Moon at the same point in its run points to a brand new foe facing the Autobots: franchise fatigue. With each new film offering little if nothing new — and taking longer and longer to do so — for its audience, people are starting to opt out of the seven year old series. The steep declines for Age of Extinction may stick around for the foreseeable future as this upcoming Friday sees the arrival of the much-anticipated sci-fi sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which is aiming at the exact same audience as Extinction.

Should the film continue its fast burnout, Age of Extinction will be lucky to reach $230-240 million in North America, which isn’t a lot given the film’s production and marketing budgets as well as the fact that the three previous Transformers features have each cleared at least $300 million domestically. The estimated final total would also signify a troubling 35-40% drop in domestic business. Fortunately for Paramount, the foreign box office has once again come to the rescue. In China alone, the film has grossed 22% more than it has in North America. The country has contributed an incredible $212 million of the film’s $400 million foreign total thus far. With many countries yet to open Age of Extinction it would come as no surprise to see a final global total north of the one billion dollar mark by the end of its run.

The ads were unfunny and the reviews proved to be more entertaining than the actual film. Still, audiences were ready for some mindless laughs over the holiday weekend which helped the $20 million Melissa McCarthy comedy Tammy earn an estimated $21 million from 3,465 screens. Since Wednesday, the R-rated feature has earned a decent $33 million. The opening continues McCarthy’s winning streak at the box office following last year’s one-two success of Identity Thief and The Heat.

The aforementioned reviews were negative (26% approval on Rotten Tomatoes), but those rarely factor into a comedy’s box office success. After all, critics eviscerated Identity Thief and that film wound up earning $134 million. Bad word-of-mouth from ticket buyers, on the other hand, will cause damage to a comedy’s financial future. The “C+” CinemaScore rating indicates that people were not amused by what they saw. The bad word of mouth should guarantee that Tammy will be an afterthought in a few short weeks.

The second wide release of the holiday weekend was Screen Gems’¬†horror offering Deliver Us From Evil. The latest feature from producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) opened on 3,049 screens to earn a flat $9.5 million ($15 million since last Wednesday). Reviews for the supernatural feature which stars Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez, Olivia Munn and Joel McHale, were largely negative (32% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes) as was the feedback from ticket buyers (“B-” CinemaScore rating). The poor opening for Deliver Us From Evil represents the latest horror film to strike out at the North American box office this year.

The third new release to land in the top ten was the Relativity sci-fi family flick Earth to Echo with a dismal $8.2 million from 3,230 theaters ($13.5 million since last Wednesday). The “found footage” version of E.T. was met with mixed responses from critics (51% approval on Rotten Tomatoes) but positive feedback from ticket buyers who actually showed up on opening day (“A-” on CinemaScore).

In fourth place for the weekend was Sony’s 22 Jump Street with $9.4 million from 3,324 screens in its fourth weekend. Off 40% from last weekend, the domestic total for the Jonah Hill/Channing Tatum hit stands at $159 million. Overseas totals currently stand at $70 million.

Rounding out the top five was Fox/Dreamworks’ animated sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2 with $8.75 million from 3,297 screens. Off 34%, the animated feature has earned $140 million domestically and an additional $106 million from overseas markets.

The remainder of the top ten was as follows:

  1. Maleficent (Disney) $6.1 million (-27%); $213.8 million
  2. Jersey Boys (Warner Brothers) $5.1 million (-33%); $36.7 million
  3. Think Like a Man Too (Screen Gems) $4.9 million (-52%); $57 million
  4. Edge of Tomorrow (Warner Brothers) $3.6 million (-32%); $90.8 million

Next weekend belongs to the anticipated sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which is the sole wide release. It should have no trouble knocking Transformers off of its perch.

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