Weekend Preview: DESPICABLE ME 4 Set to Lead the Market as LONGLEGS and FLY ME TO THE MOON Debut

The Boxoffice Podium

Forecasting the Top 3 Movies at the Domestic Box Office | July 12 – 14, 2024

Week 28 | July 12 – 14, 2024
Top 10 3-Day Range | Weekend 28, 2024: $100M — $130M

1. Despicable Me 4
Universal/Illumination | Week 2
Weekend Range: $32 – $38M
The Boxoffice Company’s Showtimes Dashboard Marketshare: 24%

Pros

  • Universal’s animated silo Illumination once again delivered another winner in the $4.88B grossing Despicable Me/Minions franchise as Despicable Me 4 scored with a $75M 3-Day opening and $122.6M 5-Day July 4 holiday weekend gross. We’re expecting a more than 50% drop in the second frame, but that’s just fine for exhibitors and the studio, with the latter having only spent $100M on the film while reaping the box office and merchandising rewards. AMC generated enormous merchandise revenue (including a $30 Minion popcorn bucket) and posted the third-highest food and beverage sales for any Wednesday in the company’s 104-year history.
  • Since July’s upcoming big guns –Twisters and Deadpool & Wolverine—both target different demographics, Illumination is set to own the family demo for the rest of the summer, with Inside Out 2 still subletting the attic, so to speak. The next big family event film is Sony’s August 2 release Harold and the Purple Crayon, which our Long Range Forecast does not expect a notable performance from.

Cons

While past films in the Gru/Minions universe have stood up to poor reviews, the series-low of 53% Rotten could indicate a 6th film in a cycle that might struggle with legs due to sheer franchise fatigue. A 90% audience score and “A” CinemaScore hopefully suggest that audiences are still eating it up. Let’s take a look at the domestic second weekends of past entries…

  • Minions (2015) – $49.2M (-57% drop)
  • Minions: The Rise of Gru (2022) – $46.1M (-57% drop)
  • Despicable Me 2 (2013) – $43.8M (-48% drop)
  • Despicable Me 3 (2017) – $33.5M (-54% drop)
  • Despicable Me (2010) – $32.8M (-42% drop)

Our panel’s prediction range puts the new one’s second frame on the lower end of recent entries, fitting since Despicable Me 4 had the fourth-lowest opening weekend of the franchise. There’s no question that the “Minions”-branded films have done better than “Despicable Me” titles, and that might be partially at play here. It’s possible the movie could over-perform, but this movie simply will not earn like Inside Out did in June. It’s not a franchise-killer by any means, though.

2. Inside Out 2
Disney/Pixar | Week 5
Weekend Range: $18 – $22M
The Boxoffice Company’s Showtimes Dashboard Marketshare: 14%

Pros

  • This is officially the summer of Inside Out 2. The Pixar smash will perform better in its 5th week than many of the #1 debuts from earlier in the year. Momentum is unstoppable at this point, and sometime in the next few days, it will claim Incredibles 2‘s place as the #1 global Pixar title ($1.24B). The Inside Out sequel’s global tally currently stands (as of Monday grosses) at $1,234,148,505, only about $8.6M shy of the record. That means by this weekend, we’re looking past studio records and towards all-time animated movie status. It will surely crush Disney’s first Frozen ($1.27B) by Sunday, then it only has to knock out The Super Mario Bros. Movie ($1.36B) and Frozen II ($1.45B) to climb to the top of that peak.

Cons

  • There’s not much downside, with records getting smashed and early Oscar buzz in the grapevine. The gap will close on Despicable Me 4, but there’s almost no chance of reclaiming the #1 spot at the weekend box office from Illumination unless there’s an unforeseen catastrophic drop for Gru and the Minions.
  • While the worldwide animated title is in sight, it’s a dicier proposition domestically. At its current $537.9M, Inside Out 2 will likely kart its way past Super Mario‘s domestic of $574.9M, but will it run out of steam before it can take out Incredibles 2‘s $608.5M?
  • And just for good measure, Inside Out 2 is currently sitting at #17 and #25 on the all-time domestic and worldwide movie charts, respectively. The family flick it’s chasing on those metrics is last year’s Barbie at #11 ($636.2M) and #14 ($1.43B), respectively, and likely won’t hit either mark due to Inside Out ultimately still being a kids brand as opposed to an all-ages comedy like Barbie was.

Wildcard: Longlegs
Neon | NEW
Weekend Range: $15 – $20M
The Boxoffice Company’s Showtimes Dashboard Marketshare: 8%

Pros

  • This weekend looks like a close race for #3 as two unconventional summer releases—the horror movie Longlegs and rom-com Fly Me to the Moon—vie for older teen and adult dollars. First up is Longlegs, written and directed by actor-turned-filmmaker Osgood Perkins (son of Psycho icon Anthony Perkins). Tracking shot up quickly for this Silence of the Lambs-esque thriller following a female FBI agent (Maika Monroe) tracking the title serial killer (Nicolas Cage), possibly due to exceptional buzz (RT is currently at 94%) as well as a recent renaissance for Cage.

Cons

  • While Cage has risen from his direct-to-video slump with some critical darlings over the last few years, none have performed at the box office. Oddball films like Dream Scenario ($5.7M), Renfield ($17.2M), and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent ($20.3M) all capitalized on the actor’s iconic persona but failed to launch theatrically.
  • Neon’s gambit to promote this project based on genre scares rather than star power will make this an exciting proposition. Horror has been in a downslide lately, with the normally dependable genre only generating $331,217,504 million this year as audiences shift back towards dramas and comedies. Only franchises like A Quiet Place and The Strangers have made any impact, and serial killer stories have mainly become the realm of DTV and streaming. Longlegs star Monroe’s 2022 serial killer movie Watcher took in a paltry $1.9M at the specialty box office before dropping on Hulu. Even a stalwart horror series like The Conjuring is ostensibly coming to an end. That said, if one original indie like this can over-perform, that’s all you need to reinvigorate the genre for studios and fans.

Wildcard: Fly Me to the Moon
Sony/Apple | NEW
Weekend Range: $12 – $17M
The Boxoffice Company’s Showtimes Dashboard Marketshare: 9%

Pros

  • With A24’s MaXXXine and Angel Studios’ Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot doing middling business, a big budget star-studded comedy-drama could be just what the doctor ordered for July counter-programming. Apple seems to be priding itself on greenlighting big swings (Napoleon, Argylle) that harken back to director/star-driven eras of the 90s, and Fly Me to the Moon fits that to a T. Originally intended to go straight to AppleTV+, the $100M budgeted rom-com tested well enough to warrant a theatrical bow. Rotten Tomatoes critical is currently at 71%, which is decent, though not what a film like this needs to perform in the market.

Cons

  • This is Greg Berlanti’s first theatrical release since Love, Simon in 2018 ($40.8M domestic/$66.7M WW). While the noted TV writer/producer (The CW’s Arrowverse, Riverdale) brings a very mainstream sensibility to the material, the 1960s-set Apollo 11 backdrop may hold little appeal beyond boomers. The apparent comp here might seem like the 2016 space race hit Hidden Figures ($169.6M domestic/$229.6M WW), but there was an element of progressive cultural reclamation that the film tapped into. Conversely, Fly Me to the Moon is about as non-diverse/conventional as it gets, looking like it could have been made in the ’60s with James Garner and Doris Day in the lead. The last time a studio movie tried to channel that retro 60’s rom-com energy was the 2003 flop Down With Love. Space movies that work tend to be thrillers like Apollo 13, Space Cowboys, Gravity, or the more recent Brad Pitt starrer, Ad Astra. Bringing a romantic element into it gives us whiffs of 2019’s Natalie Portman/Jon Hamm dud Lucy in the Sky ($319,976K domestically), which was also directed by a TV maven (Fargo‘s Noah Hawley). The tonally serious Neil Armstrong biopic First Man ($44.9M domestic/$105.5M WW) is about as close a comp as we can think of and would not be the kind of performance Apple or Sony likely want from Fly Me to the Moon.
  • Stars Channing Tatum and Scarlett Johansson seem like a dream pairing, but their recent output has been mixed. Tatum’s originals Dog ($61.7M) and The Lost City ($105.3M) performed well for originals, but threequel Magic Mike’s Last Dance was a critical and box office non-starter. Johansson did very well as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but her solo effort Black Widow performed below expectations during the COVID-era release, and her last big non-MCU lead effort was the 2017 comedy Rough Night ($22.1M).
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