Box office fireworks and July Fourth have gone hand in hand over the past quarter-century.
With the Fourth falling on a Thursday this year, Hollywood will enjoy a nicely extended four-day holiday weekend for ticket sales. Because moviegoing on the Fourth has lots of outdoor competition from beaches, picnics, fireworks, parades and barbecues, rain typically means a box office bump.
Thursday's weather forecasts are calling for thunderstorm activity in East Coast and Mid-West markets like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Detroit, Columbus, Miami and Washington, D.C. Depending on when the storms hit and how much rain they bring, there could be a box office boost.
Hollywood could also get some help from the intense heat wave that's been gripping the Southwest. Although those 100-degree-plus readings are supposed to ease a bit later this week, the frying pan temps could drive people into frosty cold megaplexes. So bad weather would be good news for this week's three new wide releases, all of which are arriving Wednesday to get a jump on the holiday.
is targeted to family audiences. Because moviegoing's one of the things families typically do in order to fill some of the hours they must spend together on long holiday weekends, films with playability to kids and parents have a great advantage.
Directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud, DM2
features the voices of Steve Carell, Al Pacino and Kristen Wiig. The franchise's first episode opened July 9, 2010 to $56.4 million and did $251.5 million domestically.
is tracking in double-digits as an overall first choice and has very high awareness scores. It's tracking best with women under-25 and next best with over-25 women, which means it's on moms-with-kids' radar.
Tracking equally well overall and also scoring very high awareness is the PG-13 action adventure western The Lone Ranger
Directed by Gore Verbinski, it stars Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer and William Fichtner. LR
is tracking best with 25-plus males and next best with 25-plus females.
The holiday weekend's third wide release is the R-rated comedy documentary Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain
, starring comedian Kevin Hart performing at Madison Square Garden during his 2012 Let Me Explain concert tour. It's tracking best with under-25 females.
There also should be continuing moviegoer interest in key hold-overs like Monsters University
, which finished first again last weekend with $46.2 million and a cume of $171 million; The Heat
, which opened last weekend to $40 million; World War Z
, which did $29.8 million last weekend and has a cume of $123.7 million; White House Down
, which opened last weekend to $25.7 million; and Man of Steel
, which did $20.8 million last weekend and has a cume of $248.7 million.
All told, there's a depth of product playing over July Fourth that should keep theatre owners smiling. Thanks to strong box office results in May and June, this year's ticket sales are now down less than 2 percent from 2012.
Moviegoing and the Fourth have been linked for nearly 30 years--sincethe July 3, 1985 launch of Back to the Future
to what was then a muscular $11.2 million at a then very wide 1,420 theaters. Future
's $210.6 million domestic gross put it in first place on the 1985 box office chart.
How powerful are Fourth of July weekends? Here's a snapshot of some memorable weekends through the years:
• 1990: Days of Thunder
starring Tom Cruise topped the chart with $15.5 million at 2,307 theaters and a five day cume of $21.5 million. The Fourth was on a Wednesday just as it is in 2012.
• 1991: Terminator 2: Judgment Day
starring Arnold Schwarzenegger was number one with $31.8 million at 2,274 theaters and a six day cume of $52.3 million. The Fourth was on a Thursday.
• 1992: Batman Returns
starring Michael Keaton was first with $13.8 million at 2,644 theaters and a cume of $123.1 million after 18 days of release. The Fourth was on a Saturday.
• 1993: The Firm
starring Tom Cruise was the chart-topper with $32.5 million at 2,393 theaters and a six day cume of $45.6 million. The Fourth was on a Sunday.
• 1994: The Lion King
was number one with $34.2 million at 2,560 theaters and a 20 day cume of $104.5 million. The Fourth was on a Monday.
• 1995: Apollo 13
starring Tom Hanks finished first with $25.4 million for three days. The Fourth was on a Tuesday.
• 1996: Independence Day
starring Will Smith topped the box office with $50.2 million at 2,882 theaters and a six day cume of $96.1 million. The Fourth was on a Thursday (not a Wednesday because '96 was a leap year).
• 1997: Men in Black
starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones took first place with $51.1 million at 3,020 theaters and a six day cume of $84.1 million. The Fourth was on a Friday.
• 1998: Armageddon
starring Bruce Willis came in first with $36.1 million at 3,127 theaters and a five day cume of $54.2 million. The Fourth was on a Saturday.
• 1999: Wild Wild West
starring Will Smith topped the chart with $36.4 million at 3,342 theaters and a six day cume of $49.7 million. The Fourth was on a Sunday.
• 2000: The Perfect Storm
starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg finished first with $41.3 million at 3,407 theaters for the three day weekend. The Fourth was on a Tuesday.
• 2001: Cats & Dogs
starring Jeff Goldblum was number one with $21.7 million at 3,040 theaters and a six day cume of $35.8 million. The Fourth was on a Wednesday.
• 2002: Men in Black II
starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones took top honors with $52.1 million at 3,557 theaters and a five day cume of $87.2 million. The Fourth was on a Thursday.
• 2003: T3: Rise of the Machines
starring Arnold Schwarzenegger came in first with $44.0 million at 3,504 theaters and a five day cume of $72.4 million. The Fourth was on a Friday.
• 2004: Spider-Man 2
starring Tobey Maguire was the chart topper with $115.8 million at 4,152 theaters and a six day cume of $180.1 million. The Fourth was on a Sunday (with 2004 being a leap year).
• 2005: War of the Worlds
starring Tom Cruise led the box office with $77.1 million at 3,906 theaters and a six day cume of $112.7 million. The Fourth was on a Monday.
• 2006: Superman Returns
starring Brandon Routh and Kevin Spacey took first place with $52.5 million at 4,065 theaters and a five day cume of $84.6 million. The Fourth was on a Tuesday.
• 2007: Transformers
starring Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox came in first with $70.5 million at 4,011 theaters and a seven day cume of $155.4 million. The Fourth was on a Wednesday.
• 2008: Hancock
starring Will Smith placed first with $62.6 million at 3,965 theaters and a five day cume of $103.9 million. The Fourth was on a Friday. • 2009: Paramount's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen starring Shia LaBeouf was number one in its second weekend with $42.3 million at 4,234 theaters and a 10 day cume of $293.4 million. The Fourth was on a Saturday.
• 2010: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
took first place with $83.6 million at 4,468 theaters and a six day cume of $176.4 million. The Fourth was on a Sunday.
• 2011: Transformers: Dark of the Moon
starring Shia LaBeouf finished first with $115.9 million at 4,088 theaters and a four day cume of $180.7 million. The Fourth was on a Monday.
• 2012: The Amazing Spider-Man
starring Andrew Garfield as Spidey finished first with $62 million at 4,318 theaters and a six day cume (including previews) of $137 million. The Fourth was on a Wednesday.
Given July Fourth's box office power, it's understandable that this is a release date Hollywood stakes out way ahead. Not only is next July Fourth already spoken for, but so is the 2015 Fourth of July weekend.
Next year, Transformers 4
opens June 27, which means its second weekend will be over July Fourth. Directed by Michael Bay, it stars Mark Wahlberg in a story that begins after the conclusion of Transformers: Dark of the Moon
. That episode opened June 29, 2011 to $97.9 million and did $352.4 million domestically.
July 2, 2014 will see the 3D fantasy action adventure Maleficent
. Directed by first-time director Robert Stomberg, the production designer on Avatar
, Alice in Wonderland
and Oz the Great and Powerful
, it stars Angelina Jolie, Juno Temple and Elle Fanning.
There's also the opening of the comedy Tammy
, written, produced and directed by Melissa McCarthy and her real life husband, actor-writer Ben Falcone. Both are first time directors. Starring are Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, Mark Duplass, Dan Aykroyd and Allison Janney.
July Fourth 2014's third high profile release will be the comedy drama Sex Tape
. Directed by Jake Kasdan, it stars Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, both of whom starred for Kasdan in Bad Teacher
In 2015, July Fourth falls on a Saturday, which isn't great for Hollywood since the holiday doesn't extend the weekend. Nonetheless, moviegoing will expand because of the holiday. Independence Day 2
has already claimed Fri., July 3.
Meanwhile, the franchise reboot of Terminator
is set to release Fri., June 26, so its second weekend will be over July Fourth. Since 1984 when the franchise starring Arnold Schwarzenegger began, its four episodes have grossed $518.9 million domestically.