The July 4 weekend was a time of the dominating and the dominated, and not just because of the U.S. women’s soccer team's rout of Japan's squad. “Jurassic World” continued its unconscious run atop the summer box-office heap, and "Inside Out" came to play, while new releases “Terminator Genisys” and “Magic Mike XXL” ... dropped as fast as trousers at a certain kind of club? Would have been better off going back in time? Pick your metaphor, but it was a weekend in which the holdovers kept going strong while the newcomers fizzled like damp fireworks.
How weak were the weaklings and how strong the giants? Here’s a run through the top five, and a deeper look at how they stack up.
“Jurassic World”: What can be said? The dinos just keep enduring. It’s hard to know at this point if there’s a repeat-viewing effect or the film manages to exhume new fans from a field long thought dug up. Either way, enough people bought tickets this weekend to land the film an estimated $31 million and what appears to be the top spot at the box office, just ahead of another holdover, “Inside Out,” which came in at a hair over $30 million. Whether “Jurassic” actually finishes at No. 1 is almost beside the point. The film’s domestic total has now vaulted it to No. 4 on the all-time chart, and it’s cracked the top five on the all-time worldwide rankings. That's ahead of any Harry Potter, “Lord of the Rings” or James Bond movie ever made.
The striking part of this weekend is that “Jurassic” managed to finish at or near the top despite the fact that nearly 500 screens dropped the movie to make room for newer contenders. OK, it happened in part because of weak new competition. But still. If the film holds on in the final numbers, it will do so despite playing on fewer screens than multiple competitors, and in fact will be only the second time this year a movie won the weekend box office against a competitor playing on at least 400 more screens.
INDIE FOCUS: Sign up for Mark Olsen's newsletter about film
And though the earlier, July 1 opening for “Magic Mike” and “Terminator” did cut into those new movies’ three-day haul, the presumptive win by “Jurassic” is still notable for this reason: This will be the first time in the modern box-office era in which a movie won the July 4 holiday while being in its fourth weekend of release. The only previous time a movie even got close? That would be “Jurassic Park” in 1993, when in its fourth weekend finished in second, about $6 million behind “The Firm.”
Here’s the kind of company “Jurassic” is now in: This weekend it became the first summer release to win the box office four straight weekends since “The Dark Knight” seven years ago. Before that? You have to go back to “The Sixth Sense” in 1999 for a run that long. Oh yes, that was also the year the U.S. women last won the World Cup.
“Inside Out”: Even if “Inside Out” doesn’t win the box office in the final tally Monday, it’s managed to pull off some neat feats -- not least of which is that, as of Monday morning, it’s now at $246 million, which means it will soon exceed the box office of any animated movie last year (“The Lego Movie’s” $257 million will be the last domino to fall). And if it manages to actually finish ahead of “Jurassic” for the weekend, it will make July 4 history of its own, because no modern film has won the Independence Day frame in its third weekend of release either (the oldest film was a second-weekend holdover).
What's underlying the success? There’s something about the best Pixar originals that keeps people coming out even if the releases are a few weeks old -- a decided contrast to most of the spring and summer box office, when movies are as forgotten as quickly as breakfast. After experiencing an admirably small 42.1% drop last weekend, “Inside Out” had another great hold as it slipped just 42.5%. Only three previous Pixar films managed to experience drops at that level or lower through their first three weekends (one of the others was also a Pete Docter effort, “Up"). Thanks to those numbers, Docter has a chance to have three of the six top-grossing Pixar original films of all time. (“Inside Out” would have to beat the inflation-adjusted $302 million of “Cars” to do it -- not out of the realm.)
Still, the ride may finally be slowing: With “Minions” coming out this weekend, expect the Pixar film to begin to slide more substantially.
"Terminator Genisys”: There were some warning signs in fan backlash to reveals and marketing materials in the months leading up to release. But Web chatter does not a bad opening weekend make. Unfortunately, poor ticket sales do. The Arnold Schwarzenegger sequel finished in a mediocre third place for the three-day weekend, at $28.7 million, and sealed a bad weekend for new openers. There will be hand-wringing: Was there too much messing with the timeline? Is there a ceiling on Arnold’s appeal? Or maybe just that of the franchise? But the numbers don’t leave much doubt -- the three-day total is just half of either “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” in 1991 or “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” in 2003 when adjusted for inflation (and those movies, especially “T2,” were on fewer screens than “Genisys”).
The new movie didn’t even measure up to the Arnold-less, McG-ified 2009 entry “Salvation,” whose inflation-adjusted $48 million also easily topped “Genisys’” three-day total.
Sure, supporters/Paramount will say the new movie’s numbers were undermined by the Wednesday opening. But then, even spotting it those extra days and going with the five-day total, the film still comes up with the lowest opening of any “Terminator" sequel after adjusting for inflation. And it’s not like those first two days were so stellar. "Genisys" pulled in about $15 million -- pretty much even on those days with “Inside Out,” in theaters nearly two weeks, and just ahead of “Jurassic World,” out nearly three.
“Magic Mike XXL”: In retrospect, it was a little unfair to ask the film do “Magic Mike” business -- the 2012 original had Soderbergh, McConaughey and novelty, three immovable forces. Still, the Gregory Jacobs sequel might have been expected to do more than just $16 million for the three-day and $26.7 million for the five-day -- both well short of the $39 million of the original’s three-day opening.
Was the July 4 weekend a mistake, in retrospect, when a good portion of the female fan base was as likely to be going with family to movies such as “Inside Out” over the holiday? The early-July Sunday didn’t hurt the previous film -- but then, that movie’s main competition was a far more demographically divergent film in “Ted.” Which brings us to ...
“Ted 2”: It was going to be a rough weekend anyway, what with all the male-oriented action competition from “Jurassic” and ”Terminator.” Still, a drop of nearly 70% to just $11 million for the three-day weekend is a pretty soft underbelly even by those standards.
The weekend finish for this movie and “Magic Mike XXL” at the bottom of the top five -- after their originals sat at Nos. 1 and 2 on the box-office chart during this weekend three years ago -- shows how hard it is to keep the mojo going. Really hard, in “Ted 2's" case, with the film’s current $58-million take meaning that it will struggle to get to even one-third of the total of the first film. That’s a rather poor fraction by sequel standards -- like “Speed 2”-poor, and that movie didn’t even have its original star returning. But keeping dominance over the years isn’t easy, as a certain national sports team could tell you.