This weekend while a group of magicians couldn't conjure up enough interest to get audience to come see them, Warner Brothers had no issues there, scaring the turtles back into their shells.

That's right, much to my surprise - and I would assume the surprise of a lot on our team - Warner Brothers' Conjuring 2 took the top of the Box Office this weekend bringing in $40.4 million in domestic gross revenue, nearly besting its predecessor (which brought in $41.8 million it's opening weekend back in 2013). This is pretty huge as this has seemingly been the year of tough love for sequels left and right. I certainly didn't expect it to have such a strong opening given its summer blockbuster competition all around, but then again it pulled off basically the exact same feat three years ago when it opened the weekend after the 4th of July - which it took the number 1 spot then too.

With exceptionally positive critic and audience reviews coming out this week, what with a Cinemascore of "A-" and a 79% on Rotten Tomatoes, the Conjuring 2 is well on its way to raking in some nice figures for the studio over the coming weeks. According to Box Office Mojo it's conceivable that the latest installment in the Conjuring franchise, started and going strong under the brilliant direction of James Wan, could end up grossing nearly $450 million globally after its theatre run. This is one to keep your eye on, not just to keep yourself from getting spooked and scared, but because this film has already sparked talks between producers and studio execs about a potential spin off film, as well as a Conjuring 3 follow up.

Coming in second, with a disappointing start in the domestic box office, was Universal's video game adaptation, WarCraft, which only brought in $24 million opening weekend. With a budget of $160 million we didn't expect this film to do exceedingly well. Adam projected it would possibly take the top of the box office with $30 million (which would still be less than a quarter of it's production budget) but the film underperformed even that low expectation. So you'd think it'd be safe to call this one a flop, right? WRONG - believe it or not Warcraft is absolutely CRUSHING it in China right now!

Globally the film brought in $285 million, with $156 million of that alone coming from China's box office sales. That's right, in China, on its opening weekend, Warcraft nearly made back its entire budget! This now places it just above Furious 7 (also directed by James Wan I should mention) as the fasted imported film to reach RMB1 billion mark, which Box office Mojo reported only took 108 hours in China. What that what?!

This also makes for extremely interesting news as China is set to surpass North America as the world's leader in the movie industry by the end of 2017. With results like these I don't think our domestic studios can be focused on just the US and it's demographic target audience anymore. In order to have their blockbusters compete on a much larger platform they'll have to start taking into consideration the global market and what foreign box offices and audiences are hungry for. This could have serious ramifications for audiences here at home, and that isn't to say those ramifications would be bad by any means, but we do have to consider what storytelling on a global scale will look like.

Fun facts:

  • Paramount's Terminator: Genisys brought in only $89.7 million over it's 11 weekend stretch in theatres, nearly a whole $30 million behind China's box office alone. 
  • In February of 2016 China saw their monthly gross top a $1 billion record amount, far exceeding the domestic box office earnings for the same month which came in at $798 million.

And coming in third with an even more disappointing opening weekend than we had forecast is Now You See Me 2, which besides a title so pathetically lacking any kind of creative insight (like why the hell didn't they call it "Now You Don't!?) the film itself is getting torn to shreds by critics. With a 34% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and reviews such as,

"The movie offers neither the astonishment of the magicians’ artistry nor a dramatic view of how they do it." - Richard Brody, The New Yorker

this film is clearly going to fail at pulling anything over on the audience this time around. The only thing that will safe this film from being a flop is the international box offices, and I am quite certain it will in fact make back its production budget of $90 million when everything is said in done.

The one thing, though, that I am praying for is that it doesn't do well enough to get Lionsgate thinking about a potential Now You See Me 3 follow up, because let me be perfectly clearly - there was NO need for the first one to begin with. Now You See Me - the original - is everything that is wrong with storytelling in the giant blockbuster industry. The movie sucked and it was a s*** story, full of misdirection which lied to the audience the whole time simply so the stupid filmmakers could be like, "Ahha! We got you!" No you f****** didn't. Shut the hell up and go back to answering phone calls or pushing papers or whatever non creative thing you did before filmmaking because clearly you lack the ability to tell a good, creative story.

With that said I have not seen Now You See Me 2, so I can't speak to it's lack of good, genuine story content, but my expectations are set incredibly low. And after reading the reviews that I have, I'm expecting I'll walk away with the same feelings and disdains that I did with the first one.

Moving away from that little soapbox, though, Our favorite crime fighting Turtles did in fact take a hit this weekend slipping to number four on the box office report, followed by X-men Apocalypse in fifth place. both took a +50% decline in ticket sales this weekend and they don't seem like they are going to rebound at all. At this point 4th of July weekend is too far away to save them and with the new releases hitting the screen before that happens I don't foresee either doing impressively well. Will they make their budget back? Absolutely. Will they do as well as predecessors? Definitely not.

Looking ahead to next weekend is the release of Disney and Pixar's much anticipated follow up to their 2003 academy acclaimed Finding Nemo, Finding Dory. Current projects for the film are showing a $100 million opening weekend on the domestic homefront alone. It'll be interesting to see just how close it will come to that projection as this obviously nostalgic throwback film is certainly going to draw in audiences both young and old. Finding Nemo opened to the tune of $70 million domestically in 2003, and the $100 million mark is a safe estimate going into next weekend I'd say, given that the only other newcomer will be Central Intelligence

All in all, while it is summer, make sure you go out and see something this coming weekend!

-Matthew Miller

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