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By Hammad Zaidi | July 30, 2013

You may have noticed over the past three weeks that this column has been focusing how traditional trends at the box office have been shattered this summer. The “Rocky” films (i.e. smaller films) have been knocking out the Apollo Creeds (much bigger productions), week after week, all summer long. What was a box office anomaly at the beginning of summer, and a scary coincidence by the end June, has now turned into a full-fledged New World Box Office Order as it pertains to the North American box office.

Should be wondering why you, the indie filmmaker, should care how disgustingly high budgeted studio films do at the box office, I submit to you that like it or not, those studio films generally set the distribution and box office trends that our beloved indie films generally follow. Thus, for the sake of your indie films that someday long be projected in front of millions of moviegoers at thousands of theaters, it’s good to have an understanding of not only how the “machine” works, but how its key parts are changing.

That brings us to this week’s victim; The Wolverine. While this $115 million dollar pic sliced it’s way to winning the weekend by earning $53,113,752 in 3,924 theaters, it’s domestic take was far short of its initial projections, and it was also mutilated by it’s own international earnings. That’s right; this picture earned a lot more money in lands where English is not the native language, than it did here in the United States. Thus, The Wolverine proves once again, that our cinematic pallet is changing its taste preference.

So, without further ado, let’s examine the “Good News Vs. Bad News” with The Wolverine, the summer most recent underachiever.

Opening Weekend

The Good News
Winning the weekend. $53,113,752 in three days is nothing to sneeze at (hell, it’s a solid per screen average $13,536). What’s even better about being the number one at the domestic box office, is that positive public relations that comes along with doing so may inject more than a few more dollars into the international box office. This fact can be especially important, since The Wolverine made far more money outside of North America to begin with, so any positive PR from the states can only strengthen the international earnings. Furthermore, the picture tested exceptionally well, earning a A- rating at CinemaScore

The Bad News
While The Wolverine won the weekend, its $53,113,752 was the lowest earning opening weekend of any of the X-Men films in their 13-year career at the domestic box office. Furthermore, The Wolverine was originally projected to earn $80,000,000-$85,000,000 over its opening weekend. Then, its opening day (last Friday) earnings were tracking at a lesser, $63,000,000 projected weekend. Ultimately though, even the adjusted projection wound up being $10,000,000 more hopeful than the actual numbers came in at. Thus, the final earnings over opening weekend were $27,000,000-$32,000,000 lower than the original projections.

Overseas Bite 

The Good News
The Wolverine made $86,500,000 in 100 countries over the weekend, which is a stellar 13% higher than X-Men: The Last Stand, a film that crossed the $225,000,000 international threshold. The three countries where the picture performed the best over the weekend, was Russia at $10,500,000, France with $7,400,000 and the UK with $7,100,000.The film hasn’t opened in Japan, the country it’s based in, so Fox Studios is right to expect The Wolverine to be “huge” in Japan.

The Bad News
Since The Wolverine  is halfway home to settling into place as a mediocre summer release and a forgettable sequel in a billion dollar plus franchise, Fox is forced to rely on strong international earnings for this picture to do better than break-even. Luckily though, it is currently projecting to inch its way to a tiny profit.

Okay, filmmakers, that concludes this 170th edition of Going Bionic.  As always, I thank you for lending me your eyes, and I look forward to borrowing them again next Tuesday. Until then, have an awesome week! I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.

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