“Jurassic World” is shaping up to be a box office monster.
The latest installment in Universal Pictures’ “when dinosaurs attack” franchise doesn’t hit theaters until June 12, but pre-release tracking suggests it will feast on an opening weekend of $100 million or more — an impressive debut for a franchise that hasn’t released a new chapter in more than a decade.
“The trailers are connecting in such a big way,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com.
Pre-release ticket sales have been robust since they kicked off on May 15, and Fandango reports that the film is one of its top five best sellers this week.
Time appears to have made the heart grow fonder for Universal and Steven Spielberg’s prehistoric reptiles. Though the first film shattered box office records and the second installment was the third highest grossing film of 1997 (both pics were helmed by Spielberg), ticket sales began to decline by the time “Jurassic Park III” hit theaters in 2001. That film grossed $181 million domestically over its lifetime, the lowest figure for any film in the series. The third sequel has shown a willingness to shake things up. While Spielberg remains an exec producer, Universal jettisoned the original cast and instead brought in indie director Colin Trevorrow (“Safety Not Guaranteed”) and new leading man Chris Pratt, whose star power rose last summer with “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
Promotional materials for the tentpole, based on the Michael Crichton novel, have shrewdly played on nostalgia, with trailers prominently featuring shots of the park’s iconic jungle gates and a piano version of John Williams score, while also introducing new dinosaurs such as the hybrid creature Indominus rex. Posters have included Pratt flanked by velociraptors and an arresting image of an aquatic reptile called a Mosasaurus about to chow down on a shark.
Of course, bringing a herd of dinosaurs to life isn’t cheap and “Jurassic World” carries a hefty $150 million pricetag, so it will need to be a global hit in order for Universal to recoup its investment.
The likely success of “Jurassic World” continues what is shaping up to be one of Universal’s best years in recent memory. The studio is in second place behind Disney in terms of market share and has fielded a number of major successes such as “Furious 7,” “Fifty Shades of Grey,” and “Pitch Perfect 2,” along with a few misfires such as “Blackhat” and “Seventh Son.” The rest of the summer looks equally promising. The studio’s slate includes “Minions,” a spin-off from the “Despicable Me” series; “Ted 2”; and the rap drama “Straight Outta Compton.”
“This is a big, franchise-driven year for them,” said Eric Handler, an analyst with MKM Partners. “You look at the contribution from ‘Furious 7’ and that’s going to make you forget about ‘Seventh Son.'”
If “Jurassic World” surpasses $100 million in its opening weekend, it will be the third film of the year to hit that mark, behind “Furious 7” and Disney’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” In contrast, only two film last year, “Transformers: Age of Extinction” and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” had openings of more than $100 million.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misreported the number of 2014 releases with $100 million openings.