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Audiences flocked back to the jungle this weekend as the sequel to the animated hit Rio pulled in a crowd, but ultimately couldn't top Captain America: The Winter Solider. However, while Rio 2's battle with a super-hero was a big story, Oculus and Draft Day will also get analysts talking.
Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ: FOX )
Finish: 2nd place / Est. budget: $103 million / 3-day estimated total: $39 million
Earlier in the weekend it looked like we may have a new number one film as Rio 2 was on pace to top Winter Soldier and take the top box office spot. Yet, despite a sizable 56% plunge by the Captain, the movie held onto the pole position. With a budget estimated around $100 million ($10 million more the original), Rio 2 was helped by the added star power of Bruno Mars, who leant his voice to the film alongside stars Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, and Jamie Foxx. Mars was pushing the film on social media, which helped drive its worldwide take (already over $55 million), but it appears to be weak domestically.
It looks like the kid-pic logjam that affected Fox's last entrant, Mr. Peabody and Sherman, as well Disney's Muppets sequel, has skimmed some money off Rio 2's debut. Whether its parents not wanting to pay another steep admission price so soon or the first really nice weekend most of the East Coast has seen in a while, the audience just wasn't there. Still Rio 2 did match the opening of the 2011 original and should have some legs as the next animated movie is still a while off.
Rio 2 was the first of seven movies from the studio set to hit theaters by the end of summer. Despite the weekend drop-off, this wasn't necessarily a bad opening for Fox and the studio is eagerly anticipating its next release The Other Woman, which opens at the end of the month. The Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Kate Upton comedy has been getting good early buzz and is the first of three movies featuring Diaz this year.
In addition to Woman, Fox has sequels to X-Men, How to Train Your Dragon, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, plus tearjerker The Fault in Our Stars and a comedy Let's Be Cops in the queue. Literally it is providing something for everyone this summer season.
Finish: 3rd place / Est. budget: $5 million / 3-day estimated total: $12 million
Looking at the line you can see the film is already profitable and made back more than double its production budget, but analysts are looking closer. Sure any studio would love that kind of return, but the studio was hoping for a big Paranormal Activity smash. Horror films were huge in 2013, but so far the only thing scary about the genre is how bad it is underperforming in 2014.
Yes, all of the movies are still turning a profit but not to the level these types of films were in year's past. Studios upped their orders for more fright-fests because audiences were going crazy for them, but so far moviegoers have changed their tastes as Activity's spin-off The Chosen Ones and Devil's Due both came in under expectations. Liosn Gate's The Quiet Ones, which hits at the end of the month, will help shed more light on this trend.
Relativity took a small hit last month when Kevin Costner's 3 Days to Kill failed to draw, but it was made for just $30 million so the studio was able to make its money back. Still the studio doesn't have a very robust slate, which makes every film important. Next up for the studio is Brick Mansions, one of the late Paul Walker's final films. How that will play with audiences is still to be seen.
Lions Gate (NYSE: LGF )
Finish: 4th place / Est. budget: $25 million / 3-day estimated total: $10 million
Summit (a subsidiary of Lions Gate) went into this project with an eye on just targeting the male demographic and that's just who showed up. The problem was the movie needed cross-over appeal to women to help push the needle. But the movie was well-received and you can't help but wonder what would have happened if the studio had expanded its target market.
Draft Day has earned star Costner the highest marks of any of his post Hatfields & McCoys projects. He's a talented but underrated actor and his performance should help remind audiences why he became a star in the first place. Made for just $25 million, the movie should recoup its budget before leaving theaters and then position itself for a nice home video run, which will very likely coincide with the kickoff of the new NFL season this September.
Summit may not have much on the horizon, but parent company Lions Gate has some big names on its summer slate, including sequels to Step Up and The Expendables. First though, it will release horror film The Quiet Ones in two weeks. Lions Gate had a rough start to the year with a pair of misses in The Legend of Hercules and I, Frankenstein but saw its luck turn around with the launch of new franchise Divergent. Draft Day was never going to be a make-or-break project, but it's not a bad bridge film between tentpoles.
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