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By Hammad Zaidi | September 10, 2013

The Summer of 2013 was memorable for me. My daughters Zoe and Lena turned two years old, the UCLA Bruins win their first NCAA baseball championship, (which was their nation-leading 109th athletic championship overall), and the L.A. Dodgers went on a tear for the ages, when they won 42 out of 50 games. The other summer-long event that will be forever memorable is the amount of colossal disappointments at the motion picture box office. Such gigantic tax breaks, like After Earth, White House Down, and The Lone Ranger made far less money than anticipated.

That’s why it’s so ironic that the Summer of 2013 broke all previous box office records. That’s right; this summer’s box office totaled an astounding $4.8 billion, up 11% from last year.

Today we’re discussing a few factors that made this summer the single most financially memorable one ever. So stick around, because what happened this past summer directly effects what films are developed, acquired and or distributed for the foreseeable future.

Side Note: While the 2013 summer box office earned $4.8 billion domestically, I’ve listed both the domestic and international grosses of the summer films listed below, in order to give you a comparison between domestic and international earnings.

Unexpected Hits

  • Now You See Me(Released May 31). This $75 million dollar magic-based thriller made $317,386,290 at the worldwide box office, including $117,386,290 domestically. More importantly, Now You See Me, made the much higher budgeted After Earth virtually disappear on their opening weekend. In fact, After Earth became the first Will Smith summer release to fail to open #1 at the box office.
  • The Purge(Released June 7).  This $3 million dollar budgeted thriller earned $85,600,152 at the worldwide box office, including $64,473,115 domestically. The most shocking part of this film’s incredible launch, was in fact, its incredible launch. The Purge won its opening weekend, by scaring up $34,058,360 in 2,336 theaters.
  • This is The End(Released June 12).  This $32 million dollar budgeted comedy earned $116,795,232 worldwide, including $98,847,912 domestically. The picture opened #2 at the box office, by earning $20,719,192 on 3,055 screens.
  • The Heat(Released June 28). This $43 million dollar budgeted comedy made $218,411,666 at the worldwide box office, including $157,896,666 domestically. While The Heat did not win its opening weekend, (it came in #2 with $39,115,043 on 3,181 screens), The Heat took out White House Down, the $150 million dollar budgeted action drama, that only earned $24,852,258 during its opening frame.
  • The Conjuring(Released July 19). This $20 million dollar budget earned an amazing $259,685,985 worldwide, including $135,185,985 domestically. This modestly budgeted film took out not one, but two major studio releases on its opening weekend, R.I.P.D. ($130 million dollar budget) and Turbo ($135 million dollar budget).
  • We’re The Millers(Released August 7). This $37 million dollar budgeted comedy has thus far made $178,713,931 worldwide, including $123,613,931 domestically.

A Handful of Powerful Sequels

  • Iron Man 3 – (Released May 3). This $200 million dollar budgeted film made $408,992,272 domestically, and $805,700,000 internationally, totaling $1,214,692,272 worldwide. The key insight here, is that Iron Man 3 out performed Iron Man 2 (2010) by nearly $100 million domestically, and by almost $600 million worldwide.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness(Released May 16). With a $190 million dollar budget, this picture earned $228,756,232 domestically and $234,000,000 overseas, giving it a worldwide total of $462,756,232. It earned $70,165,669 on 3,868 screens over its opening weekend, earning it #1 at the domestic box office.
  • Fast and Furious 6(Released May 24). This $160 million dollar budget earned $238,679,850 domestically, and another $549,300,000 worldwide, totaling $787,979,850.
  • Man of Steel(Released June 14). This $225 million dollar budgeted picture made $290,925,471 domestically, and another $367,000,000 overseas, totaling $657,925,471.
  • Monsters University(Released June 21). With a budget projected somewhere between $185-$200 million, this sequel earned $264,989,136 domestically, and $459,400,000 overseas, which totals $724,389,136 worldwide.
  • Despicable Me 2 – (Released July 3). With a budget of $76 million, this animated gem made $357,558,315 domestically, and another $475,200,000 overseas, totaling $832,758,315 worldwide. It’s opening weekend made $83,517,315 on 3,997 screens, which earned it first place at the box office.

The One Caveat To Consider
While this summer has proven to be the biggest one ever, the one thing to remember is that the $4.8 billion earned at the domestic box office does not account for how much money needed to be spent in production budgets and prints and advertising costs, in order to reach the record setting earnings.

Thus, the box office totals of previous summers may have earned more overall profit, because the distributors spent less to achieve their earnings. However, based solely on earnings, the Summer of 2013 won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Okay filmmakers, that concludes this 176th edition of Going Bionic. As always, I thank you once again for lending me your eyes, and I’d be honored to borrow them again next week. Until then, have a great week and I’ll see you next Tuesday!

I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.

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  1. Ian Moore says:

    I was surprised when I heard that the summer of 2013 did so well, and do believe you are on to something when you say that the lower budget movies making such a large profit probably contributed to this. With the advancing technology available to filmmakers, low budget films can often turn out to be the best the film world has to offer. Especially now with tools such as kickstarter people have a better opportunity than ever to get their stories out to their audience. When done effectively these lower budget independent films can very successfully utilize social media in order to spread the word about their upcoming movie. As a blogger about technology and its impact on film I find the fact that these lower budget movies such as The Purge and The Conjuring were able to be seen by so many thanks to the technology that has made its possible for movies such as these to be made.
    Ian Moore

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