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Hollywood’s summer tentpole strategy continued to suffer in North America with the muted debut of The Wolverine, but the X-Men spin-off more than made up for it overseas.
The 20th Century Fox pic opened to $55 million domestically and roughly $86.1 million internationally for a worldwide total of $141.1 million — easily covering the film’s $120 million production budget. Internationally, it posted the strongest opening ever for an X-Men title.
Wolverine certainly isn’t a dud in North America and still claimed the No. 1 position, but came in at least $10 million behind expectations and well behind the $85.1 million opening of X-Men Origins: Wolverine in early May 2009. It opened on par with 2011’s X-Men: First Class, an origins pic versus a sequel.
It follows several all-out bombs, including R.I.P.D., White House Down, The Lone Ranger and After Earth, leaving Hollywood studios questioning the sanity of rolling out so many event pics in one summer. Unlike Wolverine, those films haven’t been saved by a strong international performance.
Wolverine opened No. 1 in 100 countries, coming in 51 percent bigger than the first Wolverine and 51 percent bigger than last year’s origins pic X-Men: First Class. Revenue from 3D screens represented 50 percent of the total.
Wolverine was directed by James Mangold, with Hugh Jackman returning in the title role (the two worked together previously on the 2001 romantic adventure Kate & Leopold).
Fox is hoping that the movie’s long-term outcome will be boosted by strong reviews and a strong A- CinemaScore; X-Men Origins was roundly bashed by critics. Males made up the majority of the audience (58 percent).
“The A- CinemaScore and our excellent exit polls are a testament to the high-quality film that James Mangold and Hugh Jackman made. I think Wolverine has advanced to be a very compelling and complex character that audiences have really responded to,” said Fox president of domestic distribution Chris Aronson.
Other box office observers question whether audience summer fatigue has set in, resulting in the lower turnout for Wolverine.
Set sometime after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, Logan (Jackman) has renounced his superhero powers and is living as a recluse in the Yukon. However, he’s drawn back into the world when a Japanese man he once saved requests to become immortal. He also asks that Logan protect his granddaughter. The movie has yet to open in Japan.
New Line’s low-budget horror offering The Conjuring dropped a slim 47 percent in its second weekend, grossing $22.1 million to come in No. 2 and pushing its North American total to $83.9 million, the top showing of the year for a horror title.
Universal’s Despicable Me 2 continued to rule the family market, grossing $16 million in its fourth weekend to best newer offering Turbo, which declined 37 percent in its second weekend to $13.2 million for a domestic total of $55.8 million.
Despicable 2 became only the sixth animated film to cross the $300 million mark in North America, ending Sunday with a total $306.4 million, the second-best showing of the year after Iron Man 3. It’s worldwide gross is $660.9 million.
Rounding out the top five was Sony’s Adam Sandler ensemble comedy Grown Ups 2, which took in $11.5 million for a domestic total of $101.7 million, becoming the 14th Sandler film to cross $100 million.
R.I.P.D., from Universal, tumbled 54 percent in its second weekend to come in a dismal No. 9 with $5.9 million. The movie’s domestic total through Sunday is a scant $24.4 million.
Wolverine may have been the only new major release this weekend, but there was a flurry of activity at the specialty box office, including the stellar launch of Woody Allen‘s Blue Jasmine.
The film, headlined by Cate Blanchett, grossed $612,767 from six theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a location average of $102,128 — the best since The Master in September 2012 and ahead of the $99,834 opening location average of Allen’s box-office hit Midnight in Paris. Sony Pictures Classics, Allen’s longtime distribution partner, is releasing Blue Jasmine in the U.S.
Two high-profile specialty films expanded nationwide this weekend: Fruitvale Station and coming-of-age dramedy The Way, Way Back. In a notable win, Fruitvale came in ahead of Way, Way Back.
Fruitvale Station, from The Weinstein Co., placed No. 10, grossing an oustanding $4.7 million from 1,030 theaters for a location average of $4,377 and cume of $6.3 million. Ryan Coogler‘s critically acclaimed film, prospering in both art house and African-American theaters, recounts the real-life shooting of an unarmed young black man by a BART police officer in Oakland. The film, which should end the weekend with a domestic cume of $6.3 million, has drawn numerous parallels to the Trayvon Martin case
“The fact that it is in the top 10 is pretty impressive,” said Erik Lomis, president of distribution for TWC.
Fox Searchlight’s The Way, Way Back, starring Steve Carell, Toni Colette and Sam Rockwell, placed No. 11 with $3.3 million from 886 theaters for a total of $8.9 million. The film, directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who wrote the script for The Descendants, posted a location average of $3,724.
Among other new specialty offerings, CBS Films’ raunchy comedy The To Do List, starring Aubrey Plaza, opened to an estimated $1.5 million from 591 theaters, a softer-than-expected start.
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