July 29 (Bloomberg) -- “The Wolverine,” the Marvel superhero film featuring Hugh Jackman, was the top weekend movie in the U.S. and Canadian theaters, with $53.1 million in sales for 21st Century Fox Inc.
“The Conjuring” dropped to second place from first with $22.2 million, Hollywood.com Box-Office said today in an e-mailed statement. The teen comedy “The To Do List,” the only other premiere in wide release, opened in 15th place.
The comic-book superheroes from Walt Disney Co.-owned Marvel, which have proven a reliable franchise for studios in the past, stumbled as “The Wolverine” missed forecasts. The film was predicted to take in between $70 million to $75.4 million, according to industry estimates. Fox has released six films about the X-Men mutants, which include the Wolverine.
Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution for 20th Century Fox, said the opening was below its predecessor, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” four years ago.
“Most sequels tend to open a little bit less than their predecessors in the U.S., but internationally they tend to open bigger,” he said. The movie has grossed $86.1 million internationally, he said, above all prior X-Men openings.
The film garnered a 67 percent favorable rating out of 146 reviews aggregated by Rottentomatoes.com.
In the latest picture, the brooding Wolverine, also known as Logan, travels to Japan and becomes entangled in a crisis involving the family patriarch he rescued from the radiation of Nagasaki years earlier. The story is taken from celebrated Marvel Comics episodes from the early 1980s, according to Bloomberg News critic Craig Seligman.
“‘The Wolverine’ offers about the most that you can ask from a summer blockbuster,” Seligman wrote. “It has enough story to be involving, and the fights transcend mere machinery. In its astronomically budgeted, effects-laden way, it’s appealingly modest.”
The film cost about $120 million to produce, according to researcher Box Office Mojo, and needs about $500 million in worldwide ticket sales to rate as a success for Fox, according to Boxoffice.com. That would put it ahead of previous X-Men movies. The production budget doesn’t include marketing costs. Studios typically split the proceeds with exhibitors.
‘To Do List’
Fox follows up “The Wolverine” next year with “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” a film that includes appearances by Jackman, earlier X-Men stars Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, and the newer generation of mutants led by Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy.
“The X-Men universe as a whole remains incredibly healthy and popular,” Aronson said. “You’ll see more X-Men movies coming.”
CBS Corp.’s film division’s “The To Do List” features Aubrey Plaza as a nerdy high-school whiz kid Brandy Klark who wants to lose her virginity before heading off to college in the fall. The film took in $1.58 million in its debut.
The film, written and directed by Maggie Carey, also features “Saturday Night Live” players Bill Hader and Andy Samberg. It was made for $1.5 million, according to Box Office Mojo, and opened in fewer than 600 theaters.
The new Woody Allen feature “Blue Jasmine” opened in limited release, taking in $102,011 per screen in six theaters in Los Angeles and New York. The film from Sony Pictures Classics is a reimagining of “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
Cate Blanchett plays Jasmine, a woman who married well and then finds herself impoverished again with the fall of her Bernie Madoff-like husband, played by Alec Baldwin.
Among returning films, the low-cost horror movie “The Conjuring” from Time Warner Inc.’s New Line Cinema was second. The movie was made for about $20 million, and is based on the experiences of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, whose work included an examination of a supposedly haunted house that inspired the movie “The Amityville Horror.”
“Despicable Me 2,” the animated comedy hit from Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures, fell to third place from second with sales of $16.4 million in its fourth week of release. The film has taken in $306.8 million in the U.S. and Canada since its July 3 opening.
Weekend revenue for the top 12 films rose 25 percent to $158 million from the year-earlier period, Hollywood.com said. Attendance year to date is down 2.9 percent, while revenue has declined less than 1 percent.
The following table has U.S. movie box office figures provided by studios to Hollywood.com Box-Office. The amounts are based on gross ticket sales from July 26 to July 28.
Rev. Avg./ Pct. Total Movie (mln) Theaters Theater Chg. (mln) Wks =============================================================== 1 THE WOLVERINE $53.1 3,924 $13,536 -- $53.1 1 2 THE CONJURING 22.2 3,022 7,349 -47 83.9 2 3 DESPICABLE ME 2 16.4 3,476 4,725 -34 306.8 4 4 TURBO 13.7 3,809 3,607 -36 56.2 2 5 GROWN UPS 2 11.6 3,258 3,561 -42 101.8 3 6 RED 2 9.3 3,016 3,096 -48 35.0 2 7 PACIFIC RIM 7.7 2,602 2,961 -52 84.2 3 8 THE HEAT 6.9 2,384 2,900 -26 141.3 5 9 R.I.P.D. (3-D) 6.1 2,850 2,130 -52 24.6 2 10 FRUITVALE STATION 4.6 1,064 4,314 521 6.3 3 11 THE WAY, WAY BACK 3.4 886 3,889 57 9.1 4 12 MONSTERS UNIVERSITY 2.9 1,470 1,942 -44 255.5 6 Top 12 Films Grosses This Week Year Ago Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $158.0 $126.5 +25 Year-to-date Revenue 2013 2012 YTD YTD Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $6,590 $6,621 -0.5 Year-to-date Attendance: -2.9% Source: Hollywood.com Box-Office *T To contact the reporters on this story: Rob Golum in Los Angeles at firstname.lastname@example.org; Julia Leite in New York at email@example.com To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at firstname.lastname@example.org