A sci-fi reboot and kiddie sequel were no match for the third weekend of Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster Batman finale.
The Dark Knight Rises led the box office for a third weekend in a row, grossing $36.4 million and giving Warner Bros.’ $250 million-budgeted Batman sequel $354.6 million domestically after 17 days. The film enjoyed a healthy 41 percent decline from its previous frame, and if its weekend estimate holds up, Rises will have notched a slimmer third weekend drop than The Dark Knight, which fell 43 percent to $42.7 million during its third weekend, thereby lifting its total to $393.8 million.
The slim drop does not mean that Rises will outgross The Dark Knight domestically — it has virtually no chance of catching its $533.3 million total — but it may very well outdo its predecessor worldwide thanks to stronger international grosses. The Dark Knight grossed $468.6 million overseas, which gave it a jaw-dropping $1.002 billion cume worldwide. After three weekends, Rises has earned $378.4 million internationally (for a $733 million worldwide total), and it looks like it is headed past the $1 billion mark as well. Although naysayers may point out that The Dark Knight Rises is performing below original domestic expectations, the film is clearly a hit.
Sony reboot Total Recall started its run in second place with $26 million, only a touch higher than 1990’s Total Recall, which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and opened with $25.5 million. If we adjust for inflation, the 1990 version, which ultimately grossed $119.4 million, opened to the equivalent of about $45 million and earned about $215 million in today’s dollars. Sony says it spent $125 million on the reboot (some reports suggest the budget reached $200 million), but with poor reviews and a weak “C+” CinemaScore, the film will almost certainly not recoup its budget (or its marketing costs) domestically.
For star Colin Farrell, whose career held such promise in the early 2000s, Total Recall is the latest in a long line of box office misfires. With the exception of Horrible Bosses (in which Farrell appeared in a supporting role), every wide release he has led since 2004’s Alexander has sputtered financially. Alexander grossed $34.3 million against a whopping $155 million budget. 2006’s Miami Vice earned $63.5 million against a $135 million budget. 2008’s Pride and Glory and 2011’s Fright Night, both of which cost $30 million, earned only $15.8 million and $18.3 million, respectively.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days took third place with $14.7 million, the lowest debut by far for a Wimpy Kid film. The original Diary started with $22.1 million in 2010, and the sequel Rodrick Rules began with $23.8 million in 2011. Notably, both those films opened in March rather than the relative dead zone of August. On the other hand, Dog Days will likely see better weekday grosses than its predecessors thanks to schools being out for the summer.
Fox spent $22 million on Dog Days, and though it won’t be a smash for the studio, it certainly won’t be a pock on its record. Still, the franchise’s viability may be in question following the low opening. The young target audience for the Wimpy Kid films, many of whom read the popular books the films are based on, may well have outgrown the franchise in just two years. Fox will need to lure new viewers in order to maintain box office viability. Fortunately, audiences — which were 58 percent female and 62 percent below the age of 25 — liked what they saw and issued the film an “A-” CinemaScore, which should lead to good word-of-mouth.
Two more Fox films filled up the next two spots on the chart. Ice Age: Continental Drift finished its fourth weekend in fourth place, dipping 37 percent to $8.4 million. The frozen ‘toon has earned $131.9 million total. Last weekend’s underperforming comedy The Watch continued its sorry run, falling 50 percent to $6.4 million. After 10 days, the Ben Stiller/Vince Vaughn/Jonah Hill vehicle has earned a sad $25.4 million against a $68 million budget.
Two films reached major milestones this weekend. In sixth place, Ted earned another $5.5 million, which pushed its total past $200 million. The comedy, which has earned $203.4 million domestically against a $50 million budget, has a chance of becoming Universal’s biggest hit this year if it passes The Lorax’s $214 million cume. It’s also cleaning up overseas, where it has earned $77.3 million (including $14.3 million in the U.K. this weekend) early in its run. In eighth place, Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man reached $250.7 million during its fifth weekend. The franchise reboot is just shy of $700 million worldwide.
1. The Dark Knight Rises – $36.4 million
2. Total Recall – $26.0 million
3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days – $14.7 million
4. Ice Age: Continental Drift – $8.4 million
5. The Watch – $6.4 million
Check back next week to see if The Bourne Legacy, The Campaign, and Hope Springs can take out The Dark Knight Rises, and follow me on Twitter for up-to-the-minute box office updates.