New York — The Fourth of July went off like a dud at the box office, as the Michael Bay sequel Transformers: Age of Extinction and the Melisa McCarthy comedy Tammy led the weakest summer holiday weekend in at least a decade.
The North American box office was down a whopping 44% over the July Fourth weekend last year, when Despicable Me 2 and The Lone Ranger opened.
This weekend sputtered not because of an oversized bomb like The Lone Ranger, but because of numerous factors, including that Hollywood simply didn't aim for big fireworks this year. The holdover Transformers led all films with an estimated $36.4m, while
Tammy had a below expectations Friday-to-Sunday haul of $21.2m.
One of the lowest Fourth of Julys ever!
"This ranks as one of the lowest Fourth of Julys ever," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak. "We always think of Fourth of July being a big weekend. This year, we just have to lick our wounds and look forward to 'Planet of the Apes' and some other films to get us back on track."
Paramount's Transformers, the fourth in the series, opened the weekend prior to the year's biggest debut with $100m. The movie, with a rebooted cast led by Mark Wahlberg, dropped considerably (63%) in its second week of release despite relatively little competition.
Overseas, Age of Extinction is performing exceptionally well. It added $95.8m from 37 territories for a two-week worldwide gross of $575.6m. It's set to soon become the highest grossing film ever in China, with already more than $200m in box office sales. Transformers 4 was partially shot in China, features local star Li Bingbing and premiered at the Shanghai Film Festival.
New Line's R-rated, Midwest road trip romp Tammy boasts one of the most bankable stars in movies — McCarthy — but is a smaller, homespun movie made for just $20m and directed by McCarthy's husband, Ben Falcone. Despite being savaged by critics, the Warner Bros. release made $32.9m in five days since opening Wednesday.
"Why the weekend was so weak in terms of competition is hard to tell," said Dan Fellman, head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., who said he was very pleased with the performance of Tammy. ''It's just the way things fell."
The other new wide release was the horror flick Deliver Us From Evil, which had no blockbuster ambitions. The Sony Screen Gems release, starring Eric Bana, opened in third with $9.5m. Also debuting was Relativity Media's animated release Earth to Echo, which took in $8.3m.
Such movies are a far cry from the usual Independence Day fare, which has in the past included the opening weekends of Spider-Man 2, War of the Worlds, two earlier Transformers releases and, naturally, Independence Day.
But this year's July Fourth fell on Friday, an already lucrative movie-going day, and thus did little to add incentive for blockbusters. The World Cup, too, may have scared off some big releases.
Next week, Fox's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is expected to be one of the summer's biggest hits.