Box Office: ‘Super 8’ Amblins Its Way to Success

The Reject ReportOh, yeah. It’s a verb now.

It’s not easy for anyone to open a period piece with no A-list names and the only brand loyalty coming in the form of its director and producer. It’s even difficult for J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg, which would indicate why Super 8 underperformed in its opening weekend. Don’t get me wrong. $37m is a great opening. When you consider the sci-fi/family drama/coming of age story reportedly cost $50m, that $37m seems even more impressive. Analysts, myself included, were estimating in the $45-55m range, and much of that stemmed from Spielberg and Abrams, who is directing his first film that isn’t part of a large franchise with this one. We obviously overshot the estimate, but maybe some of us just wanted the film to perform better.

So where does this leave Super 8 in the long run? It’s only $13m out from matching its reported budget in domestic box office. It hasn’t opened in foreign markets yet, and it will be interesting to see how the Amblin love letter plays in other territories. The themes Spielberg put into his films and Abrams puts in here are pretty universal, even if Super 8 has a small town Americana feel to it. But that $13m shouldn’t be that difficult to bring in in the next couple of weeks. No, that doesn’t mean Super 8 will be in the black at that point, but it always looks good to see a movie bring in more than its price tag that quickly.

Speaking of which, last weekend’s winner, X-Men: First Class, dropped a bit harder than expected here in its second weekend. At its current pace, it will be lucky to match its $160m budget in domestic sales. It isn’t performing all that well in foreign markets, either. So far it’s been able to generate an additional $74.5m in foreign box office. That brings its worldwide total to $173.4m, a far cry from the nearly $300 million the first X-Men movie made worldwide in 2000.

Three films have popped over the $200m mark in the last week. Fast Five, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and The Hangover Part II are all vying for the title of Biggest Movie of 2011. At this point, though, it looks like The Hangover Part II is going to be carrying that belt around its waist for a while. At $80m, it’s also the cheapest of the three movies proving that bigger doesn’t always bring in more bucks. Apparently, neither does originality. Okay, off my soapbox.

Judy Moody had a bummer summer. That is all.

Here’s how the weekend broke down:

  1. Super 8 – $37m NEW
  2. X-Men: First Class – $25m (-54.6%) $98.8m total
  3. The Hangover Part II – $18.5m (-41%) $216.5m total
  4. Kung Fu Panda 2 – $16.6m (-30.4%) $126.9m total
  5. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – $10.8m (-39.6%) $208.7m total
  6. Bridesmaids – $10.1m (-15.7%) $123.9m total
  7. Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer – $6.2m NEW
  8. Midnight in Paris – $6.1m (+121.9%) $14.2m total
  9. Thor – $2.3m (-44.2%) $173.6m total
  10. Fast Five – $1.7m (-45.9%) $205m total

The weekend take came in at $134.3m, down again from last weekend and lower than expected due to both Super 8 and First Class not performing as well as anticipated. Still, the Summer has been a gold mine for films. Just looking at those total numbers proves that. A lot of films have crossed or are about to cross over $100m, and those three mentioned above are already well into the $200 millions. Seven out of ten films, and the three that aren’t are either the two new films or the indie Woody Allen movie that’s still shocking in how much it’s made. Even though the total numbers are down, 2011 has been a relatively successful one for studios across the board.

And we still haven’t had our big bomb yet. Speaking of which, Mr. Popper’s Penguins hits next weekend. Hey, who knows? Maybe it’ll be a monster success for Jim Carrey. Or maybe it will be an Evan Almighty. Also opening next weekend, the big hitter, is Green Lantern. Now recite the oath with me. I know you know it.

We’ll be back on Thursday night to see how the weekend is shaping up.

Jeremy's been writing about movies for a good, 15 years, starting with the film review column of his high school newspaper. He stands proud as the first person in his high school to have seen (and recommend) Pulp Fiction. Jeremy went on to get a B.A. in Cinema and Photography with a minor in journalism. His experience and knowledge of film is aided by the list of 6600 films he has seen in his life (so far). Jeremy's belief is that there are no bad films, just unrealized possibilities. Except Batman and Robin. That shit was awful.

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