Thanks to a vibrant marketing effort and a complete lack of competition for female audiences, The Great Gatsby opened to an excellent $50.1 million over Mother's Day weekend. However, that wasn't enough to claim first place from Iron Man 3, which followed up its record-breaking debut with another very strong outing.
Even with this impressive one-two punch, overall box office was still down a bit from the same weekend last year when The Avengers scored a second weekend record with over $103 million. Iron Man 3 fell 58 percent to $72.5 million, which is the fourth-highest second weekend ever behind The Avengers, Avatar and The Dark Knight. The decline is much steeper than that of The Avengers (50 percent), but is about even with Iron Man 2 (59 percent). To date, Iron Man 3 has earned an excellent $284.95 million, and if it continues to follow Iron Man 2's pace it will ultimately wind up over $400 million.
The Great Gatsby's $50.1 million debut ranks as the third-highest second place debut ever behind The Day After Tomorrow ($68.7 million, behind Shrek 2) and Sherlock Holmes ($62.3 million, behind Avatar). It's easily the best start ever in director Baz Luhrmann's career, and it's on pace to become his highest-grossing movie ahead Moulin Rouge! ($57.4 million) by Tuesday. This opening also ranks as the second-highest ever for star Leonardo DiCaprio behind 2010's Inception. Gatsby's challenging path to the big-screen has been extensively documented, and one has to think that Warner Bros. collectively let out a big sigh of relief when the great numbers started coming in this weekend. In hindsight, of course, the movie's strong opening shouldn't have been such a surprise. Thanks to its place on high school curriculum, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is one of the most widely-read books of the past century, and Luhrmann's stylish direction kept the movie from looking like a stuffy literary adaptation. It also had superstar Leonardo DiCaprio in a role that's right in his wheelhouse, and an vibrant (albeit anachronistic) score put together by perpetual hitmaker Jay-Z. Perhaps most important, though, was the complete lack of movies targeted at women right now (despite the fact that the fairer sex makes the majority of movie-going decisions).
Exit polling confirmed that the audience skewed female (59 percent) and older (69 percent over the age of 25). They gave the movie a "B" CinemaScore, which suggests word-of-mouth won't be great; still, without much direct competition, the worst-case scenario for the movie is about $120 million total, which is a very good performance for a romantic drama.
The only noticeable negative for Gatsby was the poor 3D performance—only 33 percent of the weekend gross came from 3D showings, which is an incredibly low figure for a live-action movie. While the fact that it was a 3D drama was part of the very early story, Warner Bros. basically abandoned it in the movie's main marketing effort. Pain and Gain took third place with $5 million, which is off a light 33 percent from last weekend. To date, the Michael Bay-directed crime flick has earned $41.6 million, and could ultimately wind up over $50 million.
Tyler Perry is one of the most consistently successful filmmakers working today, but that didn't stop Tyler Perry Presents Peeples from tanking hard with just $4.6 million at 2,041 locations this weekend. Among 2013 movies opening in more than 2,000 theaters, this is the second-worst start behind Bullet to the Head ($4.55 million). The debut is also less than half of producer Tyler Perry's previous low, 2007's Daddy's Little Girls ($11.2 million).
With Perry's strong brand and an accessible marketing effort, this awful start is a bit baffling. As many readers have pointed out, though, the "presents" label historically doesn't go all that far—look no further than the performance of The Man with the Iron Fists (presented by Quentin Tarantino) or Sanctum (presented by James Cameron) to see that even the best brand names aren't a lock when they aren't actually directing the movie. Peeples received a "B-" CinemaScore, and will probably be disappearing from theaters by Memorial Day. 42 rounded out the Top Five with $4.59 million, which is down a very light 24 percent from last weekend. To date, the Jackie Robinson biopic has grossed a very good $84.7 million.
After two successful weeks in moderate release, Mud expanded nationwide to 854 theaters and added $2.34 million. The well-reviewed coming-of-age story has now earned $8.36 million. Around-the-World Roundup
While Iron Man 3 is having a great run at the domestic box office, the movie continues to do its most-impressive business overseas. The movie added $89.3 million for a total of $664.1 million, which ranks 14th all-time. Iron Man 3's top market is China with a fantastic $95.3 million total (more than The Avengers), followed by South Korea ($54.1 million) and the U.K. ($48.3 million).
Add in the movie's domestic haul, and it's now at $949 million worldwide. By Friday, it should be over $1 billion; even if it falls hard from here on out, it's still guaranteed to ultimately earn over $1.1 billion by the end of its run.
A week ahead of its U.S. opening, Star Trek Into Darkness opened to $31.7 million from seven foreign markets this weekend. According to Paramount, the movie was up an average of 70 percent on its predecessor across those markets; while that sounds great, it's worth noting that the first Star Trek only earned $128 million overseas. The movie's top market was the U.K. with $13.3 million (up 50 percent), and it was also great in Germany ($7.6 million, up 80 percent), and Australia (up 50 percent).
One major highlight for Star Trek Into Darkness: in markets where Star Trek hasn't been a particularly strong brand—Mexico, New Zealand, Austria—the movie was up 250 percent from its predecessor. Extrapolate that in to expanding markets like Russia (May 16th), China (May 28th) and Brazil (June 14th), and Star Trek Into Darkness could be on course for a foreign total north of $300 million. The Croods continued its great run this weekend by adding $17.3 million for a new total of $360.7 million. It has now earned $47 million in China, which makes it the biggest non-franchise animated title ever in that market. Oblivion expanded in to China this weekend and grossed a decent $8.5 million. To date, it's earned $160.9 million overseas, and should get over $200 million with the addition of Japan and Venezuela at the end of the month.