By Pamela McClintock
This weekend brought more bad news for the summer box office, with revenue in North America tumbling 24 percent over the same frame last year as a trio of new films — The Purge: Anarchy, Planes: Fire & Rescue and Sex Tape — all did less business than expected.
Fox’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes had no trouble staying at No. 1 in its second weekend, holding better than any previous summer tentpole. The Fox sequel fell 50 percent to $36 million for a domestic total of $139 million.
Universal’s The Purge: Anarchy came in No. 2 as it opened to $28.4 million. While that’s a solid number for a horror title, the modestly budgeted sequel trailed behind The Purge, which debuted to $34.1 million in June 2013. Anarchy, costing $9 million to make, received a B+ CinemaScore.
Nor was Anarchy able to match the $41.8 million debut of New Line’s horror film The Conjuring on the same weekend a year ago. The difference helps to explain the year-over-year revenue gap, at least in part. Also, the weekend was left without a pricey summer tentpole when Warner Bros. pushed back the release of Jupiter Ascending to next year.
James DeMonaco returned to write and direct Anarchy, which was produced by Blumhouse Productions and Platinum Dunes.
Disney’s animated family film Planes: Fire & Rescue, placing No. 3, also did less than its predecessor. Fire & Rescue grossed $18 million domestically, compared to $22 million for Planes, which debuted in August 2013. The sequel, earning an A CinemaScore, cost $50 million to make. Disney is hopeful that the strong grade from audiences will translate into good word of mouth.
Planes: Fire & Rescue is a spinoff of the popular Pixar franchise Cars and produced by DisneyToon Studios. Dane Cook returns to voice the lead character, Dusty Crophopper, who joins the world of wildfire air attack in the sequel. Overseas, Fire & Rescue opened to $9 million from 24 territories for a subdued global launch of $27 million.
The news was all out grim for Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel’s new R-rated comedy, Sex Tape. The film debuted to No. 4 with $15 million after receiving dismal reviews and an equally dismal C+ CinemaScore (Sony is hoping that the $40 million film makes up ground overseas).
Sex Tape reunites Diaz and Segel with their Bad Teacher director, Jake Kasdan. That comedy, opening to $31.6 million in June 2011, grossed a stellar $216.2 million worldwide (Bad Teacher also earned a C+ CinemaScore).
Richard Linklater’s acclaimed drama Boyhood is quickly morphing into a hit at the specialty box office. Expanding into a total of 34 theaters, the drama placed No. 15 in its second weekend with a stellar $1.2 million. Boyhood, distributed by IFC Films, has earned a total $1.8 million to date and posted a weekend screen average of $35,320.
Zach Braff’s Kickstarter-funded project Wish I Was Here struggled in its debut, grossing only $495,000 from 68 locations for a screen average of $7,269. The film, starring Braff, Kate Hudson and Josh Gad, is distributed by Focus Features in the U.S.