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The 10 All Time Biggest Opening Weekends for a Film Kicking off the Summer

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | May 8, 2011 |

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | May 8, 2011 |

The opening weekend of the Summer Movie Season has been creeping up earlier and earlier over the last couple of decades. In 1993, for example, Sylvester Stallone’s Cliffhanger kicked off the Summer Movie Season on May 28th with a $16 million opening weekend, not a gross to sneeze at in 1993. Now, $16 million might cover the catering budget for the special effects crew on most summer tent poles. Last weekend Fast Five grossed a huge $86 million, but I’m still reluctant to suggest that the summer movie season has moved up yet another weekend. You can’t start the Summer in April. Or maybe this is just another effect of global warming. (If you’d like to consider April 29th the opening weekend now, just plug Fast Five in at number four in the list below and bump the next six titles down a notch).

Anyway, Thor opened the summer movie season (at least in my estimation) with a sizable $66 million opening salvo. That’s good for the 7th biggest opening to the summer, and the third highest opening weekend for a non-sequel. The gross came in within expectations, but some are calling it slight, given the opening weekends of Iron Man and its sequel. But considerable the obstacles in selling a picture based on a character who is not well known outside the comic world led by an unknown action star and directed by a guy best known for his Shakespeare adaptations, I think $66 million is impressive. I also think it’ll have legs at least for a week because of generally positive reviews, decent word of mouth, and I don’t see Priest 3D cutting too terribly into its gross next weekend. I liked Thor (my opinion aligns well with TK’s review) but given the earnest take on the character and the cross-promotion with 7/11, I couldn’t get over the feeling that Hemsorth was about to offer me a Slushee.

Meanwhile, Kate Hudson’s drunken interview with Pajiba didn’t help the cause of Hollywood’s ongoing effort to cross-promote huge, blockbuster films that appeal to both genders with another romantic comedy, a cause that backfired again, as Something Borrowed eked out only $13.1 million. In fact, Borrowed only managed fourth place this weekend behind Thor, Fast Five (which dropped 62 percent) and Jumping the Broom, which grossed $13.7 million by (I think) appealing to both the African-American and religious demographic. That review will be up on Monday afternoon.

Rounding out the top five was Rio, which was the top grossing film of the year ($114 million) until Fast Five surpassed it this weekend ($139 million after 10 days).

In limited release, the Mel Gibson movie, The Beaver made just $104,000 in 22 theaters, which doesn’t bode well for its wider release next weekend. We’ll review that when we get around to it. We’re not in a hurry.

I shall now leave you with The 10 All Time Biggest Opening Weekends for a Film Kicking off the Summer:

1. Iron Man 2: $128 million

2. Spider-man: $114 million

3. Iron Man: $98 million

4. X-Men: Origins: $85 million

5. X2: X-Men United: $85 million

6. The Mummy Returns: $68 million

7. Thor: $66 million

8. Van Helsing: $51 million

9. Mission Impossible III: $47 million

10. The Mummy: $43 million

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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