Dinosaurs will rule the earth again.
Universal Pictures’ “Jurassic World” is going to take a monster bite out of the box office when it opens this weekend to a projected $125 million across 4,273 theaters. Universal is being more conservative and saying it expects a debut north of $100 million.
That ranks as the studio’s widest release ever, but the fourth installment in the prehistoric franchise isn’t content with dominating the North American box office. It will bestride the globe, as well, rolling out in 66 international territories, including such major markets as China, Mexico, the U.K., Brazil, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, South Korea and Russia.
That kind of worldwide roll-out means that “Jurassic World” will have sunk its teeth into more than $350 million in receipts when Monday dawns.
The issue with films that arrive with this kind of brand recognition and buzz is that box office prognostication can get euphoric. “Jurassic World” will be huge, but predicting just how massive is an inexact science.
“We’re heading into the same territory where we were with ‘Avengers,’ where things are getting out of control with the numbers,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “It’s not a matter of whether or not people are interested. It’s how much they like it. Word-of-mouth will dictate how much it explodes.”
Legendary Pictures co-financed the $150 million production, which stars Chris Pratt, hot off of last summer’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” along with Vincent D’Onofrio and Bryce Dallas Howard. Colin Trevorrow, who made waves with the Sundance favorite “Safety Not Guaranteed,” directs.
“Jurassic World” has the weekend to itself, as studios steered clear of the mighty beasts, the better to not find their prized tentpoles devoured. That will leave last weekend’s champ, “Spy,” hoping to carve out a niche as the adult alternative to all that bloodletting. The Fox comedy had rapturous reviews, but only debuted to a so-so $29 million and change. It should generate $15 million in its sophomore weekend. “San Andreas” could face stiffer competition from “Jurassic World,” and will likely slip to $12 million.
It’s been over a decade since “Jurassic Park III” hit theaters, but this chapter returns the series to Isla Nublar, which has become sort of an Indian burial ground for theme park construction.
Universal has spared no expense hyping the sequel to the hilt, launching spots last November and pushing a well-received Super Bowl spot. It seems to have paid off. Advance ticket sales are sizzling, with Fandango reporting that “Jurassic World” is outpacing each of the summer 2014 blockbusters at the same point in their sales cycle.
After three straight weekends of year-over-year declines, Hollywood is hoping that “Jurassic World” can heat up ticket sales. That might be tall order. “22 Jump Street” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2” opened to big numbers over the same weekend in 2014, pushing the overall box office to $187 million in receipts.
“Those are tough comps,” said Eric Handler, an analyst with MKM Partners. “While you have a massive film in the marketplace, we may only be up a little bit.”
Handler has revised his second quarter box office forecast downwards. He now predicts it will be up 2% to 3% instead of the initial 10% gains he had projected. Still, Handler and other analysts are optimistic about the state of the industry given that “Inside Out” and “Ted 2” are on the horizon.
“There’s a good line-up of films left to come,” said Handler. “We could still have a record summer.”