This has been a weird weekend at the box office, because it’s one that will surely be used to argue two very different points of view about the future of summer blockbusters.
Here’s the numbers, courtesy of Box Office Mojo:
1. Jurassic World $102,019,000
2. Inside Out $91,056,000
3. Spy $10,500,000
4. San Andreas $8,240,000
5. Dope $6,018,000
6. Insidious: Chapter 3 $4,110,000
7. Pitch Perfect 2 $3,300,000
8. Mad Max: Fury Road $2,815,000
9. Avengers: Age of Ultron $2,723,000
10. Tomorrowland $2,009,000
And here’s the narratives they could inspire:
The first narrative that can be pulled from these numbers is that franchise films will continue to dominate the summer schedule. Which is likely. Built-in fan bases are guaranteed bank for studios, so expect more sequels and reboots and reboots of sequels, prequels and wamboozles. Because even a movie as mind-numbingly stupid as Jurassic World can make record breaking money if the force of nostalgia is with it.
Already, this sequel has banked $981 million worldwide, putting it at #23 for the All Time Highest Worldwide grosses, topped by Avatar. And it did that in just ten days. Jurassic World’s rank-climbing will be a narrative you’ll hear all summer long. And longer if Universal decides to pull a re-release come Christmas time.
So yeah, big flashy pre-established franchises are still the rage. But not all the rage.
Original Film Is Having A Moment
Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out pulled out a whopping $91 million in its opening weekend. Which while not enough to topple the power of Jurassic Park fandom coupled with Chris Pratt charisma, was more than enough to set a new record for the highest opening weekend ever for an original property, meaning one not tied to a franchise or inspired by a TV show or book. You know what the former holder of this record was? Avatar.
But Inside Out isn’t the only original property thriving this weekend. Despite the box office flailing of Tomorrowland (A.K.A. Disney’s other “original” venture), Spy, San Andreas, and Dope are all doing quite well.
With a painful price tag of $190 million (before the untold fortune of print and advertising), Tomorrowland’s $2 mil take won’t help it much. But the Melissa McCarthy-fronted Spy has already banked $130 million worldwide, and in just 2 and 1/2 weeks. San Andreas—powered by The Rock—has passed the $414 million mark worldwide. And Dope, a Sundance hit that surprisingly opened wide, made a strong debut with $6 million, a highly respectable figure for an indie. And that brings me to an exciting third narrative we can pluck from all these figures.
Audiences Like Non-White Non-Male Heroes Too!
Look at these titles. Seven of them have women in co-lead or protagonist roles. Two of them have people of color as their stars. And not only are films like Spy, Dope, Inside Out, and Mad Max: Fury Road winning at the box office—meaning being embraced by audiences on a massive scale—they are also being acclaimed by critics.
Yes, Jurassic World and Avengers: Age of Ultron both star white men, and offer (at best) problematic portrayals of women, and virtually no people of color between them. But with the success of so many other movies—across genres of espionage, comedy, action, and animation—Hollywood has growing evidence that white male need not be the default setting for all movie heroes. After all, it’s not just white males that drive a film to record-breaking success.
Inside Out made $91 m this weekend. 56% women in audience. #moviesaboutwomenmakemoney— Melissa Silverstein (@melsil) June 21, 2015
Basically, it was a big weekend for movies in several respects. One of which has us positively giddy.