Hordes of moviegoers were bitten by the "Spider-Man" bug this weekend, as the superhero flick flew to the top of the box office.
Audiences were less interested in the weekend's other new offerings. Oliver Stone's gritty crime drama "Savages" launched with a decent $16.2 million while "Katy Perry: A Part of Me," an inexpensive 3-D concert documentary about the pop star, brought in a so-so $7.2 million over the weekend.
Last weekend's No. 1 film, Seth MacFarlane's R-rated raunch fest "Ted," maintained a strong hold at the box office. The film starring a foul-mouthed talking teddy bear saw its ticket sales drop only 40%, to $32.6 million, during its second weekend in theaters. The movie has now sold $120.2 million worth of tickets domestically and is primed to become a major hit for distributor Universal Pictures.
Sony decided to open "The Amazing Spider-Man" earlier in the week to take advantage of Fourth of July holiday crowds, so traditional opening weekend comparisons are difficult to come by. One similar debut was 2007's "Transformers," when the first film in Paramount Pictures' franchise opened on a Tuesday before the same national holiday and went on to gross a slightly better $155.4 million by Sunday.
The new "Spider-Man" appealed to a wide swath of moviegoers: Roughly half of the crowd was older than 25, and the film skewed only slightly more male, with 58% of the audience composed of men. However, the majority of ticket buyers weren't willing to shell out a few extra bucks to see the movie in 3-D, as roughly 44% of the film's receipts came from the more expensive format.
Those who saw the $230-million production this week gave it an average grade of A-, according to market research firm CinemaScore. With solid word-of-mouth, the picture likely will be headed toward the same level of massive global ticket sales as its predecessors. "Spider-Man3," the previous installment in the franchise, which did not have the benefit of 3-D or IMAX ticket surcharges, grossed $890.9 million worldwide in 2007.
The successful launch of the new Spidey flick is good news for Sony, which in 2010 decided to pull the plug on a planned fourth "Spider-Man" movie directed by Sam Raimi. The filmmaker was responsible for the franchise's first three entries, all of which starred Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. But due to creative differences, Sony and Raimi parted ways and the studio decided to focus the new movie on how Peter Parker transformed from a high school student into a superhero. Many considered the creative decision a risky move, since that plot line is similar to 2002's original "Spider-Man."
So far, it appears the gamble has paid off, and Sony will likely move ahead with its plan to release a sequel in 2014.
"Savages," meanwhile, did not go over as well with audiences, who gave the film a poor average grade of C+. While the movie debuted with about $3 million more than pre-release audience surveys had indicated, the poor moviegoer response could spell bad news for the film in coming weeks. The picture, about two twentysomething marijuana sellers who get mixed up with a Mexican drug cartel, was financed by Universal and Relativity for about $45 million.
While the movie was marketed primarily to older males, it ended up attracting a 51% female audience, though 61% of the crowd was older than 30. The adult drama, which stars a slew of well-known actors including John Travolta, Salma Hayek and Benicio Del Toro, marks a return for filmmaker Stone to the violent movies from his past such as"Scarface" and "Natural Born Killers."
"Katy Perry: A Part of Me" cost Paramount's micro-budget label Insurge only $12 million to produce, so the film's debut isn't considered a bust. However, the studio clearly was hoping the movie would replicate the success of last year's "Never Say Never,"a similar concert film about teen star Justin Bieber. That movie, which cost $13 million to make, debuted with $29.5 million and ultimately grossed $98 million worldwide.
The Perry film no doubt will end up grossing far less than Bieber's film did, though it's not certain why. The musician has a huge fan base with 22.5 million followers on Twitter; Bieber has 24.3 million.
Not surprisingly, those who turned up to see Perry's movie seemed to be her die-hard "Katy cats": 81% of the crowd was female and 72% was younger than 25. That young female audience loved the well-reviewed movie, assigning it an average grade of A.
The film, which follows Perry on her recent "California Dreams" tour as her marriage to comedian Russell Brand falls apart, has grossed $10.3 million since its debut on Thursday. The picture also opened this weekend in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom and collected $2.3 million in total in those countries.
[Updated, 12:51 p.m. July 8: "The Amazing Spider-Man" played in 74 foreign countries this weekend and grossed a strong $129.1 million, raising its international total to an impressive $201.6 million. This weekend, the film performed best in the United Kingdom, where it sold $18.1 million worth of tickets. The movie also had excellent debuts in Mexico and Indonesia, where its $4.5 million opening was the biggest of all time for the country.
Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office, with international results when available, according to studio estimates and Rentrak:
1. "The Amazing Spider-Man" (Sony): Opened with $65 million. Domestic total: $140 million. $129.1 million overseas in 74 foreign markets. International total: $201.6 million.
2. "Ted" (Universal/Relativity/MRC): $32.6 million on its second weekend, down 40%. Domestic total: $120.2 million. $15 million in two foreign markets.
3. "Brave" (Disney): $20.2 million on its third weekend, down 41%. Domestic total: $174.5 million. $4.2 million in 13 foreign markets. International total: $36.6 million.