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With kids back in school, football returning, and studios opting not to open any major films, the North American box office slumped to its worst performance in 13 years. The Top 20 struggled to reach a miserable $58.8M - the lowest point the film industry has seen since the weeks just after the 9/11 tragedy in 2001.
This weekend, Labor Day brought an end to another summer movie season on a slow note with the Marvel overachiever Guardians of the Galaxy leading the way again grossing an estimated $22.2M over the long Friday-to-Monday holiday weekend in its fifth frame. Three of those frames were spent at number one.
Marvel's misfit heroes were once again the most popular outlaws in North American theaters as the franchise-launching blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy held up exceptionally well in its fourth frame to reclaim the number one spot. The Disney release dipped only 30% to an estimated $17.6M which was enough to surpass all competitors this weekend.
Averaging less than $1M per person listed above the title on the poster, The Expendables 3 crashed and burned settling for a fourth place finish while overperformers Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Guardians of the Galaxy continued their strong run atop the box office. Overall, the August box office came back down to normal numbers after two extremely strong weekends to open the month.
The reborn heroes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles conquered the North American box office as the franchise flick beat industry expectations to open at number one with an estimated $65M. It was the fourth biggest opening weekend ever in the month of August and soared about $20M above what the film biz was expecting. Summer has been light on kidpics and audiences came out in droves for Turtles which began as a movie franchise in 1990 with a record debut for its time.
Marvel enjoyed one of the film industry's most amazing openings in recent years, and silenced any doubters, with a record-breaking top spot debut for the new super hero adventure Guardians of the Galaxy which led the overall box office to the largest August weekend in box office history.
Scarlett Johansson's brains beat Dwayne Johnson's brawn in a head-to-head showdown between star-driven summer action films. The sci-fi thriller Lucy attracted a larger crowd and captured the number one spot while the epic adventure Hercules enjoyed a fine debut in the runner-up spot connecting with its own fan base. Overall ticket sales were about even with last week, but fell below last year's levels for the seventh consecutive weekend.
Caesar still ruled the North American box office as the well-liked action film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes pulled in the most ticket sales for a second frame at number one beating out three new releases over another sluggish session for what Hollywood chose to offer up this summer.
Grossing more than the next 15 films combined, the new sci-fi sequel Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes conquered the North American box office with an estimated $73M opening. The Fox tentpole averaged a muscular $18,402 from 3,967 locations and took advantage of stellar reviews, low competition in the marketplace, and a built-in audience which liked its predecessor Rise of the Planet of the Apes from three summers ago. Dawn opened 33% better than Rise.
The Independence Day holiday session was lacking in box office fireworks as the Autobots tentpole Transformers: Age of Extinction led the marketplace for a second straight time while new releases brought one good debut and a handful of lackluster ones that paying audiences were mostly uninterested in.
This weekend, the fourth round of Autobots destruction conquered the global box office as the Michael Bay sequel Transformers: Age of Extinction scored the largest opening of 2014 both domestically and worldwide. The PG-13 film which featured a new cast led by Mark Wahlberg scored a domestic opening weekend of an estimated $100M.
Sony ruled the North American box office with a pair of popular comedy sequels, each connecting well with its target audience. The battle-of-the-sexes pic Think Like a Man Too featuring an ensemble cast including red hot star Kevin Hart opened in first place by a narrow margin with an estimated $30M. That was off 11% from the $33.6M debut of its predecessor from April 2012, but still a muscular start. The PG-13 film averaged a spectacular $13,483 from 2,225 locations.
In a battle of sequels, the R-rated action-comedy 22 Jump Street overpowered the animated family film How to Train Your Dragon 2 while last weekend's champ The Fault in Our Stars went tumbling down the charts.
This weekend, teen girls and young women ruled the multiplexes as the tearjerker The Fault In Our Stars generated a spectacular opening, grossing an estimated $48.2M which quadrupled its production cost. The PG-13 film based on the best-selling romance novel was mostly a one-quadrant film, but the turnout was so incredible that it was able to beat every other film in the marketplace, including Angelina Jolie's smash hit Maleficent and Tom Cruise's new action tentpole Edge of Tomorrow.
Angelina Jolie dominated the box office with the fairy tale-inspired epic Maleficent which generated the largest opening of her career with an estimated $70M from 3,948 theaters for a sensational $17,730 average. Disney's PG-rated tale of the villain from Sleeping Beauty used its starpower to attract a wide audience and came close to the $79.1M debut of the studio's Oz: The Great and Powerful from last year. This also marked the first time in nine years that Jolie hit the number one spot with a live-action film. Mr. & Mrs. Smith with future life partner Brad Pitt was her last one from this month in 2005.
Wolverine and his mutant friends conquered the Memorial Day holiday weekend box office with the number one debut of X-Men: Days of Future Past which opened to an estimated $90.7M, the second best showing ever for the seven-film franchise. The Fox release averaged a muscular $22,698 from 3,996 locations and was helped by 3D and large format ticket prices.
This weekend, Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures smashed expectations with its monster reboot Godzilla as a different type of super hero conquered the worldwide box office with a mammoth global debut. The PG-13 action tentpole grossed an estimated $93.2M in North America from 3,952 locations for a spectacular $23,584 average. The radioactive beast generated the year's second best debut trailing closely behind the $95M of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Raunchy comedy trumped super hero action as North American audiences flooded multiplexes to see the buzzworthy new film Neighbors which captured the number one spot with a thunderous opening shoving last week's champ The Amazing Spider-Man 2 into second place in only in second weekend.
While not breaking any major records, the super hero sequel The Amazing Spider-Man 2 did kick off the summer movie season with a strong debut delivering the second best opening weekend of 2014. However, it did not drive the overall marketplace the way studio tentpoles usually do on this particular frame as the Top 20 slumped to the worst showing in eight years for the first weekend of May which since 1999 has marked the start of the summer blockbuster season.
Cameron Diaz's new revenge comedy The Other Woman booted Captain America from the number one spot and enjoyed a strong debut driven by adult women not interested in super heroes. The Fox hit bowed to an estimated $24.7M from 3,205 locations for a fantastic $7,707 average.