Two films with somewhat niche appeal are both opening on what will likely be one of the slower weekends of the summer. One is Paper Towns, the adaptation of the popular John Green novel, and the other is Pixels, a big budget Adam Sandler action comedy based on old, nostalgic video games. Pixels will likely end up taking the weekend, though the non-traditional Adam Sandler comedies have been doing very poorly, which isn’t a good sign. Stuff like Grown Ups is where Sandler finds success, but his other projects such as Blended fail to find an audience. Still, this seems much more easily marketable than a romantic comedy, and is surprisingly marketing itself as a summer blockbuster first and a silly comedy second. The concept of games such as Pac-Man and Donkey Kong is certainly a fun one, but is it too late? Many are saying that kids today won’t even recognize them, but that seems slightly ridiculous. Pretty much anyone recognizes Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, it’s just a question of whether or not they care. Perhaps 10 years ago this would’ve been a guaranteed $50M+ slam dunk, but it appears to be too little too late.Look for Pixels to open somewhere in the high $20’s to low $30’s this weekend.
Also opening is Paper Towns, one year after The Fault in Our Stars was a massive success both domestically and internationally. Paper Towns is not nearly as popular or highly anticipated, meaning it isn’t going to open nearly as high, but should still find some success given its minuscule $12M budget.
Ant-Man may be able to benefit from some strong word of mouth, but losing many of its 3D and IMAX screens to Pixels means it will likely be taking a hit this weekend. It received an A on Cinemascore, meaning general audiences enjoyed it quite a bit, but it doesn’t seem as if it has the same potential to do as well as Guardians of the Galaxy.
Southpaw also opens this weekend, the boxing drama loosely based on the life of Eminem, though that isn’t really made clear in the marketing. The film is also receiving fairly poor reviews, with a mediocre 59% on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing. That number certainly isn’t going to help it, and sports dramas are typically better off in late August or the fall, rather than right in July. Look for Southpaw to open in the low double digits this weekend.
1. Minions – $32M
2. Pixels – $29M
3. Ant-Man – $27.5M
4. Paper Towns – $23M
5. Trainwreck – $17M
6. Southpaw – $10.8M
The Bottom Line
Pixels has a fairly big budget and somewhat strong family appeal, meaning it should open to at least $40M to get a pass. Paper Towns is very low budget and the source material isn’t nearly as popular as The Fault in Our Stars, so anything over $20M is fine. Southpaw has a budget of $30M and a lot of upcoming competition, so it should be doing at least $15M this weekend.