×

Memorial Day Weekend Box Office Drops 28 Percent, What’s Behind the Fall?

X-Men: Days of Future Pastdominated the Memorial Day weekend box office and is on pace to become the highest-grossing film in the mutant franchise’s 14-year history.

However, domestic ticket sales dropped 28% to $227 million for the four-day period, according to BoxOffice.com. That was below the roughly $240 million that most analysts expected the theatrical market would hit and a shadow of last year’s record-breaking $316 million figure.

“‘X-Men’ did fine, but you had a pretty steep decline with ‘Godzilla,’ and ‘Blended’ just tanked,” Eric Handler, managing director of MKM Partners, said. “Those two films were the bigger issues.”

The major hurdle that the domestic box office faced was that, aside from “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and “Blended,” there were no other major releases debuting in the marketplace. In contrast, Memorial Day 2013 saw the premieres of “Fast & Furious 6,” “The Hangover Part III” and “Epic.”

“If there had been a third major movie opening this year, we’d be looking at a very different situation,” Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst of BoxOffice.com, said. “Too many weekends fall victim to this mentality that it has to break a record or it’s a disappointment.”

In terms of this year’s offerings, “Blended,” a romantic comedy reuniting Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler, failed to recapture the spark that ignited “50 First Dates” and “The Wedding Singer,” tanking with less than $20 million over the long weekend. That made it Sandler’s second-weakest opening ever for a film that kicked off on more than 3,000 screens. It was also far below the $30 million that analysts had projected it would make.

Though “Godzilla” continued to be a monster at the international box office, the reboot fell steeply in its second week of U.S. release. The picture saw its box office tally drop by nearly 66% to roughly $39 million, which pushed the overall numbers lower than anticipated.

Year-to-date, the domestic box office is still up more than 3%, but going into this summer many exhibitors and analysts are bracing for some choppy waters. The issue is that on paper this year’s crop of blockbusters — “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2” — will have a hard time scaling the heights of “Iron Man 3,” “Man of Steel,” “Monsters University” and “World War Z.”

At last week’s JP Morgan Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference, for example, Regal Entertainment Group CEO Amy Miles and CFO David Ownby admitted that this year might fall short of last year’s ticket sales, but talked up the return of the Superman, Star Wars and Avengers franchises over the next two years.

“It’s really hard not to be excited from a box office perspective when you look further into 2015 and 2016,” she said.

However, some box office prognosticators are feeling better about the exhibition and movie business’ more immediate prospects, noting that the success of spring hits such as “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and this summer’s “Neighbors” and “Godzilla” have kicked off the first half of 2014 in strong form.

Also helping inject optimism into annual forecasts was DreamWorks Animation’s decision to shift “Home” out of its November release date and replace it with “Penguins of Madagascar,” a spin-off of the “Madagascar” franchise that will arrive in theaters with higher brand-awareness.

“I still don’t think we’ll be up this year, but we’ve had a relatively solid start to summer,” Eric Wold, a box office analyst with B. Riley & Co., said. “Summer is looking less bad than it was a few months ago.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • So Long, My Son directed by

    Wang Xiaoshuai's 'So Long, My Son' Earns Six APSA Nominations

    Chinese drama, “So Long, My Son,” was nominated in six categories, making it the early favorite for this year’s Asia Pacific Screen Awards. The Wang Xiaoshuai-directed drama about separation, secrets, a lifetime of regret, and the consequences of China’s one child policy, had its premiere in February at the Berlin festival. There it won Silver [...]

  • Alan Rickman

    Film News Roundup: 'Galaxy Quest' Documentary Set for Release

    In today’s film news roundup, rescue drama “Not Without Hope” is back in development, a “Galaxy Quest” documentary is set for release, “The Two Popes” wins another award, and Ella Joyce gets cast. PROJECT REVIVED U.K.-based financing-production outfit Goldfinch has bought feature film rights to Nick Schuyler’s “Not Without Hope” and signed “The Fog” director [...]

  • Ryan Reynolds John Krasinkski

    Ryan Reynolds, John Krasinski in Talks for 'Imaginary Friends' Movie

    Ryan Reynolds and John Krasinski are in talks to board the fantasy comedy “Imaginary Friends” at Paramount Studios. Paramount recently won the bidding for the property over Lionsgate and Sony. Krasinski will write, direct,  produce and star while Reynolds will co-star if the deals go through. The story centers on a man who can see [...]

  • Willem Dafoe attends the "Motherless Brooklyn"

    Willem Dafoe Joins Guillermo Del Toro's 'Nightmare Alley'

    Willem Dafoe has closed a deal to join Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of “Nightmare Alley.” Collider had first reported that Dafoe was being considered for a role in the film, but sources now say the “Lighthouse” star has closed a deal to join the cast. The “At [...]

  • 'To the Ends of the Earth'

    Busan Film Review: 'To the Ends of the Earth'

    “To the Ends of the Earth,” the story of a young Japanese journalist’s experiences in Uzbekistan filming a report for a Japanese TV travel show, was originally commissioned to celebrate 25 years of cordial diplomatic relations between director Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s hyper-developed island homeland and the less affluent, landlocked Central Asian nation. As such we might [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content