Box Office: 'Fifty Shades Freed' Pushes The Trilogy Past $1 Billion Worldwide
Universal/Comcast Corp.’s Fifty Shades Freed earned $18.5 million on its first Friday of domestic release, including $5.6m in Thursday previews. That’s down an understandable 14% from Fifty Shades Darker ($21.4m last February) and -38% from the boffo $30m opening day of Fifty Shades of Grey back in Feb. of 2015. One slight cause for concern is that Fifty Shades of Grey earned 28% of its Friday business on Thursday and Fifty Shades Darker earned 26% on its Friday business on Thursday, while Fifty Shades Freed earned 30% via Thursday previews.Uh oh, if this third offering crashes due to frontloading, there might not be a sequel! In all seriousness, this is a $55 million trilogy capper to a series that had already earned $952m worldwide ($571m for the first film and $381m for the second) on a combined budget of $95m. So, no matter how far above the $1 billion mark this series gets, Fifty Shades Freed is a noble end to a shoulda-been-groundbreaking franchise which cost $150m for three movies and essentially paid for itself on the first go-around.For comparison, Maze Runner: The Death Cure dropped 24% on its first Friday compared to The Scorch Trials and 25% from the first Maze Runner. The doomed Divergent series went from a $22.78 million Friday in March of 2014 to a $21.1m Friday in March of 2015 to a $11.9m Friday (-43% from Insurgent and 47% down from Divergent). Yes, you’re correct that the third Dakota Johnson/Jamie Dornan erotic drama dropped about as much from the first one as did the third Divergent from the first, but the first Divergent didn’t make $571m worldwide on a $40m budget.The $150 million-budgeted Fifty Shades trilogy, based on E.L. James’ best-selling BSDM-themed romantic drama/thriller series, has topped $1 billion at the global box office. That puts it in rare company among R-rated franchises, alongside The Matrix ($1.6b over three films), The Hangover ($1.4b over three films), Alien ($1.328b not counting the PG-13 Alien vs. Predator), Resident Evil ($1.2b over six movies), The Conjuring ($1.2b over four movies), Die Hard ($1.05b not counting Live Free or Die Hard) and The Terminator ($1b just counting the first three R-rated offerings).That’s not counting inflation (Lethal Weapon earned $955 million over four movies from 1987 to 1998), but I’m still impressed.  We’re looking at an over/under $40m domestic opening, with around $130m worldwide by tomorrow. That will make it the fourth-biggest global grosser of the year behind Insidious: The Last Key, Maze Runner: The Death Cure and Paddington 2. Walt Disney's Black Panther will make this all mere trivia in a week, but that’s a conversation for later. The Fifty Shades series is holding well considering this is a totally fan-driven series, with no Deathly Hallows part 2-ish finale bump.
Wonder Woman Sets Another Box Office Record for Solo Female Director
Wonder Woman has just hit another moviemaking milestone, as the highest-grossing live-action movie directed by a single woman. Helmed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot as the titular superheroine, the DC Extended Universe film has quickly become an unstoppable force at the global box office – having made well over $500 million in ticket sales around the globe. It is expected that Wonder Woman (which has an official production budget of $150 million) will ultimately wind up being among the top ten highest-grossing superhero films ever, when all is said and done.Currently, Jenkins is cowriting a Wonder Woman 2 treatment with Wonder Woman co-writer (and DC Entertainment President) Geoff Johns, even as the first installment continues to make waves heading into its fourth weekend of release. Wonder Woman has now set yet another box office record, ahead of it passing 2013’s Man of Steel at the domestic box office this weekend (and possibly even at the global box office, within the next week or two).According to THR, Wonder Woman has made made $601.6 million at the global box office at the end of Wednesday – meaning, by either Thursday or Friday, it will have officially passed the $609.8 million earned worldwide by the 2008 Mama Mia! musical movie adaptation. That means Wonder Woman is (or, rather, will be very shortly) the highest-grossing live-action movie ever directed by a single woman.Comparatively, Jennifer Yuh solo directed the animated franchise sequel Kung Fu Panda 2 in 2011, which went on to earn a robust $665.7 million – and seeing as Wonder Woman may yet eclipse that total, that means Jenkins may yet set another record for movies solo-directed by a woman at the box office. That being said, the case is different when it comes to films with two female directors (see, for example, the $742 million earned by The Wachowski Sisters’ The Matrix Reloaded or the $1.28 billion earned by Frozen, which Jennifer Lee co-directed).As for how high Wonder Woman will ultimately fly when it comes to the larger DCEU: that remains to be seen. Although it’s all-but-guaranteed that Wonder Woman will pass Man of Steel at the worldwide box office, Jenkins’ superhero movie may yet surpass the $746 million earned by Suicide Squad worldwide last year, too. The $873 million global box office total for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice may prove to be out of reach, even for Diana Prince, but second place in the DCEU would be great all the same.
Transformers 5 On Track For Lowest Domestic Opening of Series
Things aren’t looking good for Transformers: The Last Knight, as the fifth entry in the series is headed for a record low opening box office. For years now, the Transformers franchise has been hoping to spin the flagship films out into more movies. Of course, like many would-be shared universes, it has yet to prove an audience desire for additional films. While each Transformers film has made money, the global box office haul has been slipping. That’s been especially apparent at home, with The Last Knight projected to reach an all-time low.Earlier today, the totals came in for Transformers preview night, with the numbers some of the lowest of any blockbuster this year and the most dismal for the franchise so far. Despite the end credits scene setting up the future of the franchise and plans already in place for next year’s Bumblebee, the low box office haul isn’t looking good for the series as a whole. Between the overall low numbers for 2017’s summer season and the prominence of other blockbusters like Wonder Woman and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, it’s becoming increasingly clear that more of the same isn’t going to help Transformers.On the heels of last night’s poor performance, Deadline is reporting that estimates have The Last Knight opening to a meager $15 million tonight. That estimate is the lowest of the franchise so far, with Age of Extinction pulling in $41.9M and even the first film managing $27.9M. Part of the problem could be the film opening on Wednesday instead of a Friday, but the poor reviews have certainly not helped things. What’s more, the estimations state things will only be getting worse for the film, with even its big Saturday rebound likely coming out to the same as tonight.All told, the total 5-day projections for the movie are now in the area of $63–65M, down from the already poor $70M the film was considered to earn just a few days ago. The fact that these number are across a five-day spread versus the typical three makes the picture look even worse. The minds behind the series have said they haven’t fully planned all future sequels and spinoffs, which is likely a good thing as Paramount may think twice about moving forward with any new films.It’s not all bad news for the franchise or its fans. Like The Mummy, The Last Knight is looking to open big internationally, especially in China. With foreign markets playing a larger role in film production, a high global total could help the film break even. Still, on a reported $217 budget (not including marketing), it’s going to be an uphill battle. And as The Mummy has already proven, even a big overseas haul isn’t always enough to help a film survive. 
Is it time for Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow to walk the plank?
Before we condemn him to eternal rest in Davy Jones’ locker, it should be noted that Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow, eternal leading light of the Pirates of the Caribbean saga, is as devilishly flamboyant as ever in the new instalment, Salazar’s Revenge (Dead Men Tell No Tales in the US). In part, this is surely down to the sheer joy Depp clearly continues to get from playing the role that brought him greater recognition, as well as his continuing determination to up his game whenever he slips on Sparrow’s skin. It may also be because it is impossible to become a caricature of oneself – this being the fifth Pirates movie in 14 years – when the character one is playing was a delightfully preposterous burlesque in the first place.The swivel-eyed pouting and charmingly floppy-wristed mincing with which our hero flounced on to the scene in 2003’s The Curse of the Black Pearl have become no more extreme in the past decade and a half, while the familiar Keith Richards-esque brogue sticks to the pirate lord with barnacle-like tenacity. Nor has Sparrow shifted greatly in terms of moral compass: he is always out for himself, though he retains a passing fondness for those who accompany him on his adventures.In Hollywood’s grand pantheon of singular blockbuster cinema creations, perhaps only Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man currently stands taller. Both parts helped to parachute their stars into A-list leading-man status, but it is Downey Jr who has had more help from Disney over the years when it comes to retaining it. The reason we should be hoping that Salazar’s Revenge sees the final outing for Sparrow is that the scurvy seadog creative team behind him seems to have long ago stopped caring about these movies.Perhaps the saga’s origins are to blame. Where the Marvel superhero movies have more than half a century’s worth of comic books to draw upon, Pirates of the Caribbean was originally a fairground ride at Disneyland in California. Faced with a deficit of source material, screenwriters have dipped into a hotchpotch of fables, from nautical superstition (Bill Nighy’s tentacle-faced Davy Jones in 2006’s Dead Man’s Chest and 2007’s At World’s End) to Aztec mythology (the titular curse from Curse of the Black Pearl). One character, Naomie Harris’s Tia Dalma/Calypso even combines elements taken from ancient Greek mythology with resurrection skills drawn from the Vodou-like Obeah cult.In short, there is so much theological gravy floating around in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies that it is hard to know which gods are in charge of which situation. Events in the latest instalment suggest the Olympian, Poseidon, is the daddy of the sea gods, but it would be of little surprise to find the screenwriters of the next movie deciding to raise a different set of deities to the salty throne, should it suit them. For this is a series that delights in invoking the name of whichever god might be convenient at any given time to resurrect.There are hints in Salazar’s Revenge that Nighy’s Davy Jones might be back in part six, which would mark the umpteenth time that a character has been restored to life. The most infamous example is that of Geoffrey Rush’s Captain Barbossa, brought back by Tia Dalma, in the final scenes of Dead Man’s Chest, after being killed off in Black Pearl. But we’ve also seen Sparrow himself and Orlando Bloom’s Will Turner dipping in and out of mortality as easily as slipping on a new waistcoat. None of this matters greatly in such fantastical material, except when (mild spoiler) the film-makers still seem to want us to care deeply when major characters lose their lives.There are also suggestions that the series has forgotten the subtleties of female characterisation that were embedded in its earlier movies. Few and far between on the high seas they may have been, but piratey ladies such as Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Swann and Penélope Cruz’s Angelica usually managed to just about hold their own against Sparrow and his ilk. Yet in the new instalment, Swann is reduced to a cringeworthy cameo, while her replacement, Kaya Scodelario’s Carina Smyth, feels like a thinly drawn stand-in. The screenplay makes great play of the young woman’s excellent scientific mind, yet insists on constantly placing her in positions where she can be ogled and subjected to appallingly Trump-like comments from Depp.Salazar’s Revenge also features plotting so clunky you can see the cogs whirring, not to mention a willingness to cannibalise the storylines of earlier instalments that makes The Force Awakens’ cribbing from the original Star Wars look mild in comparison. JJ Abrams’ 2015 space opera got away with it because audiences were happy enough to see a return to the saga’s traditional tropes after the ill-advised foray into turgid space pantomime that marked out the prequel films. But Pirates of the Caribbean has neither the hardcore fan base nor the nostalgic vitality to be able to get away with a similar approach.It is not a spoiler, at least not for anyone who has watched the trailers and noted the existence of Javier Bardem’s zombie-like Armando Salazar and his crew, to reveal that undead seamen are once again a big part of the story, which you might think reasonable enough given the saga’s template is swashbuckling supernatural fantasy. But if all this series will ever be able to give us – time and again, with mild variations each iteration (perhaps like the ride upon which it was based) – is ghostly pirate villains who are out to take revenge on our eternally flamboyant hero, it might be just about time for Sparrow and his crew to be made to walk the plank.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Passes $800 Million at Global Box Office
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has just surpassed $800 million at the global box office. After spending two weeks at the top of the charts in terms of domestic theatrical releases since its premiere earlier this month, the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is already a success and has Guardians of the Galaxy 3 in development, with returning writer/director James Gunn attached.With Guardians 2 having already surpassed Guardians 1 in terms of global and domestic earning alike, fans of the Guardians franchise likely need little more reason to celebrate the sequel’s continuing success at the box office. And with a Guardians theme park attraction now up and running at Disneyland Resort’s Disney California Adventure Park, the latest reports brings more good news for the second big screen helping of Guardians of the Galaxy.As reported by Variety, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has now blasted its way past the $800 million mark at the global box office, after just under one month in theatrical release. Having made back serious bank on its approximate budget of $200 million, Vol. 2 has become the fifth MCU installment to pass $800 million worldwide – joining its fellow MCU releases The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Captain America: Civil War on that list.To put those numbers in perspective, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has thus far secured $454.7 million overseas – specifically grossing $98 million in China, $47 million in the United Kingdom, and $25 million in Germany – in addition to its $342.7 million domestic earnings. Compared to the original – which made $333 million domestically and $440 million internationally, for a grand total of $773 million internationally – the second Gunn-directed MCU franchise film has earned its place as a premiere Marvel Studios production.Despite a drop in Memorial Day weekend ticket sales – with the dueling studio releases Baywatch and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales suffering to gain a foothold over the course of their respective theatrical premieres – the latest MCU film is doing just fine. In the midst of a summer movie season that is underperforming compared to last year, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is cleaning up with mainstream moviegoing audiences in a big, big way.On top of all that, Marvel Studios still has two film releases to come in 2017, in the forms of Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok. So, in that respect, Guardians 2 should be but the beginning of a fruitful season for the comic book film studio.
Wonder Woman 2 Will Take Place in America
Director Patty Jenkins says the sequel to the box office smash Wonder Woman will be set in America. More than 75 years after Wonder Woman appeared in the comics for the first time, the character finally made her solo movie debut, arriving in theaters over the weekend to critical acclaim and more than $100 million at the domestic box office.The film followed Diana Prince from her home island of Themyscira into the midst of war torn Europe, a very different backdrop to the Gotham audiences saw her inhabiting in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. However, it looks like she’ll be returning stateside soon enough.In an interview with EW, Jenkins confirmed the sequel’s setting, saying Wonder Woman 2 will unfold in America, far away from Themyscira, as well as London and the European locales she traveled to in the first film.“The story will take place in the U.S., which I think is right. She’s Wonder Woman. She’s got to come to America. It’s time.The quote comes from an interview Jenkins did in April, but was held back until release. The director previously discussed her interest and ideas for a sequel that included a US setting, but this is more resolute and in the wake of her return being confirmed suggests more clearly that this is where the series is heading.While an official announcement hasn’t been made, Wonder Woman 2 is something Warner Bros. will want to start work on shortly. After all, the film grossed more than $200 million worldwide in its opening frame and delivered the DCEU it’s first genuine hit. Audiences and critics have made it clear that they love Wonder Woman and want to see more of her apart from her upcoming appearance in Justice League in November.Jenkins hasn’t divulged too many other details for the sequel, which Zack Snyder recently revealed is in development. Indeed, as far as a plot goes, DCEU producer Charles Roven said last week that “nothing has been written” in terms of a script – although story ideas are surely swirling. What exactly that story could be is unclear, but with a contemporary setting likely then it would make sense for her to be in the U.S. where she fights in both Batman v Superman and (presumably) Justice League.
Suicide Squad 2 May Start Filming In 2018
Rick Flag actor Joel Kinnaman says the script for Suicide Squad 2 is being written, with plans to shoot the DC Extended Universe movie’s sequel in 2018. Director David Ayer’s Suicide Squad debuted in theaters last August, with a main crew that includes such classic DC villains as Joker (Jared Leto). The film also marked the live-action debut of the DC Comics characters Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Deadshot (Will Smith), among others.While the DC supervillain film was all but dismissed by critics, moviegoers still made Suicide Squad a blockbuster hit, as it went on to earn $325.1 million domestically and $420.5 million overseas, for a collective global cume of $745.6 million. Naturally with impressive numbers like that, it didn’t take long for sequel talk to surface, and now one of Suicide Squad’s stars has provided a status update as to when the film will be going before the cameras.Here is what Kinnaman had to offer THR, on the matter of Suicide Squad 2:“As far as I know they’re writing the script and I think the plan is to shoot it sometime in 2018, but that could change. I think I’ll definitely come back for it.”The only certainty about Suicide Squad 2 so far is that Ayer has moved on from the sequel to direct DC’s Gotham City Sirens (and since that point, he also entered negotiations to direct the Scarface reboot). If Kinnaman could have his way, at least, he’d like to see Ayer return to the helm of Suicide Squad 2 somehow. Also expressing his hopes for the sequel, Kinnaman says:“Ultimately, I’d love for David Ayer to direct it, but if he doesn’t want to direct it then someone who is great with character and that’s able to ground the story and maybe put these characters in a more normal situation. It would be really interesting to see these crazy characters interact with regular people as well.”Of course, before Kinnaman or any other Suicide Squad cast members can see their hopes for the sequel come to pass, the production needs to lock in a director. If one of the actors is starting to float starting dates, perhaps Warner Bros./DC is close to making an announcement of a hire.With a stable of iconic characters to play, the interest certainly is there. Earlier this year, Mel Gibson confirmed he was in talks to direct the Suicide Squad sequel, but nothing has happened with the Oscar-winning filmmaker since then – even though he is reportedly the studio’s first choice for the job.Guy Ritchie has also expressed interest in directing Suicide Squad 2 – and while the material and Ritchie’s distinct style seems to be a perfect match, Warner Bros. may be a bit hesitant to grant the helmer another big budget film following the paltry box office returns for the studio’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (not to mention, the director is already committed to Disney’s live-action version of Aladdin).
Wonder Woman to Beat The Mummy At the Box Office This Weekend
Wonder Woman is on track to win the box office once again in its second weekend, while The Mummy is expected to fall flat. Patty Jenkins’ megahit from Warner Bros. steamrolled the box office competition around the world in its opening weekend, making history in the process. One of the only June releases that could have given it a serious run was Alex Kurtzman’s The Mummy, which is intended to be the launching pad for Universal’s Dark Universe franchise of interconnected monster movie reboots.Unfortunately for Kurtzman and Tom Cruise, The Mummy opened to poor reviews with many lamenting its stale action and lack of thrills or charm. The Mummy’s projections for its opening weekend at the box office are no doubt disappointing – and it may not even be able to top Wonder Woman.As reported by Variety on Wednesday, The Mummy is projected to earn up to $40 million in North America in its opening weekend. It’s a slight improvement over the initial $35 million projection, but still may not be enough to finish No. 1 domestically – certainly far off its reported $125 million budget. The Mummy did have a record opening day in South Korea and is opening in 63 international markets, so not all hope is lost for the movie just yet.Wonder Woman, meanwhile, could drop off by 60 percent from its $103 million opening weekend and still edge out The Mummy, as noted by Variety. That does not appear to be an official projection. Wonder Woman, of course, is the best-reviewed DC-based movie since The Dark Knight and may not even see that big of a drop-off.Another box office win for Wonder Woman would be yet another accolade to heap onto what’s been a massive success so far for Warner Bros., Jenkins, star Gal Gadot, and the DC Extended Universe. It marks one of the biggest movie-to-movie leaps in “franchise reputation” in history, and it appears on its way to another big weekend at the box office with the second-biggest Tuesday numbers ever seen in June.The Mummy, meanwhile, appears to be a major disappointment for Universal and Kurtzman, who is also producing upcoming Dark Universe reboots of Bride of Frankenstein and The Invisible Man. It could still turn a profit if it brings in big international numbers, much like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. But between bombs like King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and Baywatch, and relative disappointments like Alien: Covenant and potentially The Mummy, Wonder Woman appears to be more of an outlier in an otherwise underwhelming summer movie season so far.
The Mummy Set To Be Tom Cruise’s Biggest Opening Ever
The Mummy is on pace to earn more than $169 million at the global box office this weekend, marking the biggest opening ever for a Tom Cruise film. Kicking off Universal Pictures’ monster-themed Dark Universe, The Mummy has experienced mostly lows and few highs as it approached its debut in theaters this week. Arriving to scathing reviews and low box office estimates, the film appeared to doom Universal’s attempt to revive iconic characters including Frankenstein, the Wolfman and the Mummy for the masses via a shared universe format.An update of the 1932 classic version of The Mummy starring Boris Karloff (which was first remade by Universal in 1999 with Brendan Fraser in the lead), The Mummy vaulted ahead from the period settings of the original and first remake and largely set the action in modern day, where soldier of fortune Nick Morton (Cruise) earns his living by unearthing ancient antiquities to sell on the black market. But when Morton helps unearth a 5,000-year-old sarcophagus that entombs the mummified Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), a curse is unleashed upon him by Ahmanet as she proceeds to regain her original form to wreak havoc on everybody that surrounds her.While The Mummy isn’t expected to wrap up the No. 1 spot at the domestic box office (thanks to a Wonder Woman repeat), early returns suggest that director Alex Kurtzman’s film will easily win the global box office. According to Deadline, The Mummy has grossed $56.8 million at the box office through Friday, putting the film on track to make $139 million overseas this weekend, which sets a new international record for a Cruise film. Combined with the film’s estimated $30.3 domestic gross, the film is tracking to make $169.3 worldwide – which is enough to eclipse Cruise’s previous top global box office mark of $167.4 million set by War of the Worlds in 2005.Deadline says of the 63 foreign markets The Mummy was released in this weekend, it debuted at No. 1 in 52 of them. The film has earned the most money in China, where it took in $19 million on Friday and is tracking to make $51.5 in its opening frame. Korea is expected to take in $17 million in ticket sales for The Mummy over the weekend, following a $6.6 million debut Thursday to mark the country’s biggest opening day of all time.While The Mummy clearly stumbled out of the gate in North America, the cumulative global take of $169.3 million – which exceeds initial estimates  – bodes well for the future of the Dark Universe. As one of the filmmakers behind the new franchise, Kurtzman certainly has confidence in the long-term prospects of the movie series – and he’s already hyping director Bill Condon’s remake of The Bride of Frankenstein set for a February 2019 release. But while the foreign gross of The Mummy will help build a solid financial bridge to Condon’s film, the Beauty and the Beast helmer will have to find a way to increase domestic ticket sales or planned follow-ups including The Invisible Man, The Wolfman and The Creature From the Black Lagoon may never be unearthed from Universal’s vault.