‘Transformers’ heads a slow holiday weekend

ScreenerBlog

Transformers: Age of Extinction held on to the top spot at the box office this weekend, making it the second film this year, along with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, to remain at No. 1 for two weekends in a row. It dipped as severely as expected, 64 percent, to earn $36.4 million for the five days. The action flick headlined a startlingly slow (“dreadful,” in the words of some) weekend: The top 12 films grossed $118.5 million, a 47 percent downturn from the same period last year, when Despicable Me 2 and notorious misfire The Lone Ranger were the major releases bowing nationwide. Not that Extinction is feeling the pressure: The Michael Bay feature has earned $174.7 million so far, and will likely tally out to north of $250 million.

In second place, Melissa McCarthy’s Tammy earned $32.9 million. The poorly reviewed comedy’s five-day gross is less than that which McCarthy’s previous two films, The Heat and Identity Thief, earned over their three-day weekend releases. Though Tammy’s debut is nonetheless solid, the film will likely suffer a steep dip in sales over the weeks ahead: Viewers awarded it a terrible “C+” CinemaScore grade, meaning word-of-mouth will be none too laudatory.  Right now, the movie is looking at roughly $70 million in total.

Despite its dismal prospects, however, at least Tammy did not open below expectation. The same cannot be said for supernatural horror film Deliver Us From Evil, which clocked in at No. 3. The movie grossed $15 million for the five days, proving (once again) audiences are growing weary of supernatural exorcism flicks (think Devil’s Due and Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, both of which also underperformed).

In fourth place, holdover 22 Jump Street continued to fill theatres. The comedy dipped 41 percent to earn $9.4 million for the weekend, bumping its total to $158.9 million. Fellow sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2 rounded out the Top 5 with its $8.8 million haul. Pundits are calling the animated feature’s gross to date, $140 million, “disappointing,” given the success of the first HTTYD.

Unfortunately, “disappointing” also characterizes the performance of new release Earth to Echo, which bowed to a weak $13.5 million for the five days. Just as exorcism fatigue may have adversely affected Deliver Us From Evil, found-footage weariness may have kept viewers from Echo. Over half of the family movie’s audience was under the age of 25, and with Planes sequel Planes: Fire and Rescue scheduled to open on the 18th, Echo will likely fade away rather quickly.

Many pundits believe the poor showing at the box office this weekend does not bode well for the rest of the season, which may be remembered as one of the slowest summers of the past 10 years. Be that as it may, the specialty box office is humming along nicely. John Carney’s musical feel-good fest Begin Again enjoyed another successful outing, grossing $1.3 million after having expanded to 175 locations. Fellow specialty release Snowpiercer also bucked the apocalyptic b.o. trend with its positive intake of $1 million.