Box Office Report: Tom Cruise Back From “Oblivion”

Given last Monday’s tragic events at the Boston Marathon, we decided to hold off on last week’s Box Office Report and missed covering the openings for surprise hit 42, which topped the charts with a grand-slam worthy $27 million, the highest debut for a baseball movie ever, and lackluster sequel Scary Movie 5, which could only muster up $14 million, several million short of A Haunted House’s $18 million debut back in January (House was made by Marilyn Waynes, co-director and star of the first two Scary Movie films). This week only one nationwide release made its way to theaters, the Tom Cruise science-fiction vehicle Oblivion, but thanks to a solid debut, a pair of great holdovers, and a nice expansion from indie darling The Place Beyond The Pines, the second to last weekend of April continued to keep the month at about the same gross it was last year, a nice reprieve from the downs of January, February, and March. Take a look below for a full box office report:

Top 10 Movies (April 19-21)
1. Oblivion – $38.2 million
2. 42 – $18 million
3. The Croods – $9.5 million
4. Scary Movie 5 – $6.3 million
5. G.I. Joe: Retaliation – $5.7 million
6. The Place Beyond The Pines – $4.7 million
7. Olympus Has Fallen – $4.5 million
8. Evil Dead – $4.1 million
9. Jurassic Park 3D – $4.0 million
10. Oz The Great and Powerful – $3 million

Opening at #1 with $38.2 million, Oblivion debuted strongly this weekend, albeit not spectacularly for a wannabe blockbuster. Though the Summer Movie Season doesn’t start until May, Universal Studios has bridged the gap between spring and summer in recent years by releasing event pictures (Fast and Furious sequels in 2009 and 2011) in late April. With its high marketing push and extraordinary visuals (every advertisement was light on story and heavy on effects), Oblivion was clearly aiming to be this year’s late Spring Season blockbuster, and while it couldn’t get as high as the $70-$80 million of the Fast and Furious films, its $38.2 million start is still good enough; it should all but guarantee the film makes it to $100 million domestically, which is all the studio needs considering the global haul is bound to grow by at least double.

Mainly, Oblivion’s opening is great news for star Tom Cruise, who has become one of the most hot-and-cold superstars in recent memory. After a string of blockbusters (Top Gun, Mission: Impossible) and awards fare (Born on the Fourth of July, Jerry McGuire, Rain Days) in the late-80s/1990s catapulted him to the front of the A-list, Cruise went on to star in 7 consecutive $100+ million grossers from 2000-2008, including Minority Report, Vanilla Sky, War of the Worlds, and two Mission: Impossible sequels. Since then, Cruise’s erratic behavior, highly publicized marriage and divorce from Katie Holmes, and involvement with Scientology have hurt his public image, and with the exception of 2011’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, his last three leading role movies have all bombed at the box office, including last December’s Jack Reacher, which opened with less than half of what Oblivion made. And yet, Cruise rebounded this week with his strongest debut since 2005’s War of the Worlds and an opening that topped his first sci-fi venture, Minority Report, which grossed $35 million in June 2002. Evidently, science-fiction and Tom Cruise go very well together. With his public image on the cool down since his divorce swept the media, Cruise did solid publicity for the film and seemed to be turning over a new leaf, a move that seems to be confirmed with Oblivion’s solid debut. While the film may not be able to hold on very well with Iron Man 3 and the Summer Movie Season right around the corner, Oblivion is still an early-year success; is this the beginning of the reinvention of Tom Cruise? Time will tell.

In second place, surprise smash 42 held on extremely well with $18 million, a light 34% from its eye-opening debut last weekend. Clearly, word-of-mouth is to thank for 42’s rapid success since it earned a rare “A+” CinemaScore last weekend, indicating universal public acclaim from audiences. With its inspirational themes and historical drama approach, 42 is transcending the baseball-drama genre and becoming a crowd-pleaser for all demographics, especially families, and it seems to be headed for a great run a la The Help and should end somewhere around $100 million. For a film that only got some late publicity thanks to star Harrison Ford, 42’s success is quite staggering, and with $54 million already in the bag and counting, this Jackie Robinson biopic is running bases around Moneyball, the last major-baseball drama. Even with the benefit of star Brad Pitt and a September/awards-season release date, Moneyball had only $38 million in 10-days – still a great number for a baseball drama – meaning 42 already has a $16 million lead. Quite impressive indeed!

More box office strength was seen in the #3 spot thanks to DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods. Despite being in its fifth weekend of release, The Croods dipped 27% – the smallest decline of any nationwide release this weekend – and lifted its total to $154 million, a sign that confirms our predictions about the film’s success to be true. By being the only family release in the marketplace this spring, The Croods has domainted the family marketplace by being the only viable option for parents and toddlers and, as a result, has never dopped more than 40% on any given weekend. Luckily, the film is pretty great too (we gave it an 8/10) and the directors were just given the go-ahead by DreamWorks to begin the early stages of a sequel. Clearly, DreamWorks Animations is just where they want to be after flopping hard last November with Rise of the Guardians and they have the prehistoric Croods to thank for it.

Lastly, Derek Cianfrance’s ambitious drama The Place Beyond The Pines expanded into nationwide release this weekend and found $4.7 million, good enough for sixth place. Though it stars Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, and recent Oscar-nominee Bradley Cooper – a trio that had many predicting a higher nationwide debut for the film – the film is long, complex, and moody and hasn’t achieved the universal acclaim that many independent productions achieve before heading into solid nationwide runs. With $11 million and counting, The Place Beyond The Pines has already grossed more in 4 weeks (3 limited, 1 nationwide) than Cianfrance’s last picture, Blue Valentine, did in its entire run ($9 million). Clearly this is a success story of Cianfrance and we can’t wait to see where his directorial skills take him next.

Did you go to the movies this weekend?

Article by Zack Sharf

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