Weak Fourth of July cinema weekend
The Fourth of July went off like a dud at the box office, as the Michael Bay sequel, Transformers: Age of Extinction, and the Melisa McCarthy comedy, Tammy, led the weakest summer holiday weekend in at least a decade.
The North American box office was down a striking 44 per cent over the July 4 weekend last year, when Despicable Me 2 and The Lone Ranger opened.
"This ranks as one of the lowest Fourth of Julys ever," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak. "We always think of Fourth of July being a big weekend. This year, we just have to lick our wounds and look forward to Planet of the Apes and some other films to get us back on track."
The weekend sputtered not because of an oversized bomb like The Lone Ranger, but also numerous other factors, including that Hollywood simply didn't aim for big fireworks this year. The holdover Transformers led all films with an estimated US$36.4 million, while Tammy had a below-expectations Friday-to-Sunday haul of US$21.2 million.
Such movies are a far cry from the usual Independence Day fare, which has in the past included the opening weekends of Spider-Man 2, War of the Worlds, two earlier Transformers releases and, naturally, Independence Day.
But this year's July Fourth fell on a Friday, an already lucrative movie day, and thus did little to add incentive for blockbusters. The World Cup, too, may have scared off some big releases. Next week's release, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, is expected to be one of the summer's biggest hits.
The unusual holiday lull meant that for the first time this summer, a movie (Transformers: Age of Extinction) held the top spot at the box office for two weeks in a row.
Paramount's Transformers: Age of Extinction, the fourth in the series, opened the weekend prior to the year's biggest debut, with US$100 million. The movie, with a rebooted cast led by Mark Wahlberg, dropped considerably (63 per cent) in its second week of release, despite relatively little competition.
New Line's R-rated, Midwest road trip-romp, Tammy, boasts one of the most bankable stars in movies - McCarthy - but is a smaller, homespun movie made for just US$20 million and directed by McCarthy's husband, Ben Falcone. Despite being savaged by critics, the Warner Bros release made US$32.9 million in five days since opening Wednesday.
"Why the weekend was so weak in terms of competition is hard to tell," said Dan Fellman, head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., who said he was very pleased with the performance of Tammy. ''It's just the way things fell."
The only other new wide release was the horror flick Deliver Us From Evil, which had no blockbuster ambitions. The Sony Screen Gems release, starring Eric Bana, opened in third with US$9.5 million.
The following are estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US and Canadian cinemas, according to Rentrak. Where available, latest international numbers are also included.
1. Transformers: Age Of Extinction, US$36.4 million
2. Tammy, US$21.2 million
3. Deliver Us From Evil, US$9.5 million
4. 22 Jump Street, US$9.4 million
5. How to Train Your Dragon 2, US$8.8 million
6. Earth to Echo, US$8.3 million
7. Maleficent, US$6.1 million
8. Jersey Boys, US$5.1 million
9. Think Like a Man Too, US$4.9 million
10. Edge of Tomorrow, US$3.6 million