Box Office: ‘Pets’ tops ‘Ghostbusters’; both to be overtaken by ‘Ice Age’/’Star Trek’

A new weekly box office write-up I’ll do every Monday analyzing the past weekend at the box office and looking ahead to the next one.

New Entries:

Ghostbusters opened to $46M (far below my $52M guess), which is either very good or very bad depending on whom you ask. It’s a bit higher than the $38M-$42M range many pessimistic pundits thought it’d fall into but a film of this scale not opening to at least $50M is a miss by any conventional wisdom.  It’s the “biggest non-superhero/non-animated” opening this year. So what? That’s a qualifier now? Word-of-mouth could determine GB’s ultimate fate, as the reviews are generally positive but not enough on their own to tempt viewers who’ve been bearish from the start. It needs great 2nd and 3rd domestic weekends. A film with little international appeal, Ghostbusters would need to hit roughly $200M domestically to even be argued a success given its $150M+ production budget. I’m not sure that’s going to happen; it could even top out closer to $100M. How does Sony feel about this as a franchise? Does this impact McCarthy and Wiig’s status as leading ladies? I don’t know, check back in a couple weeks.

Broad Green Pictures’ crime thriller The Infiltrator, starring Bryan Cranston and coming amidst newfound interest in drug cartels, opened to a nice $5.2M on just over 1,600 screens, but it’s hard to see how the distributor views that given they picked up the film late in the game (May) and surely spent a healthy amount getting it out so soon. But reviews are good, and given the lack of quality adult-films on most screens right now this is an indie that could have legs for a few more nice weekends.

Hanging Around:

The Secret Life of Pets topped the weekend again, drawing in $50M and crossing $200M domestically over its two-week run thus far. A HUGE surprise hit for Universal even considering the gigantic # of screens its on. It does figure to undergo a major dropoff this weekend though with Ice Age: Collision Course entering the fold.

The Legend of Tarzan did $11M and crawled passed $100M domestically, proving to be far from the disaster many wrote it up to be after its rough opening. It’s by no means a big money maker for Universal but there’s been a lot worse this summer. Skargard’s abs clearly have appeal.

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates ($7.5M, 2nd weekend) and The Purge: Election Day ($6.7M, 3rd weekend) are doing fine as efficiently made R-rated films. It’s been a better year for R-rated movies than PG-13 rated ones, relatively, if such a comparison has a point.

Perhaps the brightest story amongst already released films is Kevin Hart & Dwayne Johnson’s Central Intelligence ($5.3M, June 10th release). The film continues to make money and has now passed $117 domestically on a budget of just $50M. It’s formulaic, know-what-you’re-going-into appeal has proven a much better investment than the poorly timed reboots and quasi-sequels that cost 3x as much to make.

For a full list of this week’s numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.

Opening This Week:

Two big openings this week. First is Star Trek Beyond, the third film in a franchise rebooted by J.J. Abrams back in 2009. Abrams is only there as a producer this time but considering the film retains its great cast, adds Idris Elba as a villain, and is helmed by proven blockbuster maestro Justin Lin; there’s little reason to view it negatively on paper. Early reviews are great, and the film has been marketed as a slightly humorous, music-driven sci-fi epic along the lines of Guardians of the Galaxy (surely Simon Pegg writing the script has something to do with that). It’s opening on 3,500 screens with confident pundits thinking it could hit $60M.

Star Trek opened at $79M while Star Trek Into Darkness opened at $70M. It’s unlikely that the third entry touches those numbers, but Paramount should still feel very confident given the buzz and international appeal. Ultimately, I think this film could get to Darkness’ total worldwide haul of $467M, though Jason Bourne and Suicide Squad coming out over the next two weeks could cut into it dramatically.

Ice Age: Collision Course is a bit of a mystery to me. It doesn’t feel like a necessary film, but it’s hard to judge how kids anticipate sequels. It’s done well overseas already despite a critical panning. It’s a short movie that’ll have a ton of showings. I don’t think it hits the $46.6M opening of the last film in the series, but who knows, really? I think the downward trend of the franchise will continue but I also didn’t see The Secret Life of Pets opening with even 80% of what it did.

Warner Bros will release the horror film Lights Out this week after some great buzz starting with the LA Film Festival last month. Is this the film to stick a fork in the returns of The PurgeThe Conjuring 2, and The Shallows? I can’t seem to a find a screen count anywhere, but if Warners gives it the typical summer horror bout I don’t think an eight-figure opening is out of the question.

Domestic Weekend Predictions for New Entries:

Star Trek: Beyond (Paramount): $57.5M

Ice Age: Collision Course (Fox): $39.3M

Lights Out (Warners): $8.9M

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