Box Office: New Holiday Films Fail to Set Off Fireworks at Multiplex

8:20 AM PST 07/04/2014 by Pamela McClintock

UPDATED: Melissa McCarthy's latest comedy "Tammy" fell 11 percent on Thursday to $5.5 million; other new entries "Deliver Us From Evil" and "Earth to Echo" all but tied with $2.6 million.

Don't expect fireworks from the new movies opening over the long Fourth of July holiday. In fact, box-office revenue could be the lowest in recent memory for what's usually a lucrative stretch for moviegoing.

Melissa McCarthy's Tammy is leading the pack of new titles but is doing less business than expected after receiving scathing notices from reviewers and a C+ CinemaScore from audiences. The comedy took in $5.5 million on Thursday, an 11 percent dip from Wednesday, its first full day in release. Tammy's two-day cume is $11.7 million.

The movie, marking the feature directorial debut of McCarthy's husband, Ben Falcone, isn't a big risk financially since it cost New Line and Warner Bros. a modest $20 million to make. Box office observers are projecting a Wednesday-Sunday debut in the $32 million to $35 million range.

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Tammy placed No. 2 Thursday after holdover Transformers: Age of Extinction, which shot up 25 percent to $9.7 million for a domestic total of $138.4 million. The Paramount tentpole should take in $55 million to $60 million for the five days after opening last weekend to roughly $100 million.

So far, Hurricane Arthur doesn't appear to be disrupting moviegoing on the East Coast, but Hollywood studios are keeping a close eye on the storm.

It's too early to project total revenue for the long holiday, but it is bound to be down from other years. Last year alone, Despicable Me 2 opened to $143 million over the same five-day stretch, while The Lone Ranger grossed $48 million. (Lone Ranger, because of its price, was a bomb.) Movies opening last year did have the advantage of the actual holiday falling on a Thursday, meaning consumers were freed up to go to the movies on Friday.

Among the other new holiday films this year, horror film Deliver Us From Evil and family film Earth to Echo all but tied Thursday with a modest $2.6 million.

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Deliver Us From Evil, from Screen Gems and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, has grossed $5.5 million in its first two days and cost roughly $30 million to make.

Marking the summer's first studio horror film, Deliver Us From Evil is about a New York cop (Eric Bana) who teams with a renegade priest (Edgar Ramirez) schooled in exorcisms to eradicate a series of possessions striking New York City. The movie, directed by Scott Derrickson and earning a B+ CinemaScore, is inspired by the book co-written by real-life cop Ralph Sarchie.

Relativity Media's Earth to Echo, earning an A- CinemaScore, has taken in $5.1 million in its first two days despite being the only new offering for families. Disney made the found-footage film about a tiny alien robot but put it into turnaround last summer. Relativity paid a modest $13 million to acquire the movie and do reshoots but did make a major marketing spend.

One wild card is conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza's America, which expanded nationwide Wednesday after opening in Houston and Atlanta last weekend. However, America won't match the $6.5 million nationwide launch of D'Souza's hit documentary 2016: Obama's America two years ago. That film went on to become the No. 2 political documentary of all time with $33.4 million in ticket sales.

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America, expanding nationwide Wednesday, placed No. 12 Thursday with roughly $625,000 for an early total of $1.3 million. The documentary is only playing in 1,105 theaters, compared to more than 3,000 locations for the other new holiday movies.

Lionsgate is distributing America, which debunks the narrative that the United States has been a force of evil across the world through a combination of historical re-creations and interviews with some of the country's harshest critics.

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