'Purge' and 'Sex Tape' May Take Weekend Box Office Lead

The highly successful “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” will have competition for the top box office spot this weekend. The movie was released by Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. (NASDAQ: FOX), part of Rupert Murdoch’s empire, last weekend. It collected $103 million in ticket sales through June 17, a strong opening by any measure. Sales are expected to drop 52% to 57% for its second weekend, to about $31 million.

“The Purge: Anarchy” from Comcast Corp.’s (NASDAQ: CMCSA) Universal is expected to fall short slightly of the $34 million taken in by its predecessor, followed by “Sex Tape” from Sony Corp.’s (NYSE: SNE) Columbia Pictures at $20 million.

The industry in general continues to face a tough summer, which may mean annual ticket sales could drop below the more than $10 billion figure set for all of 2013. According to Box Office Mojo:

Major releases have been falling hard this Summer: The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Transformers: Age of Extinction all dropped at least 60 percent in their second frame.

One enemy of forecasts of how well a movie will do over time is Hollywood’s relatively new experience with streaming media, currently championed by Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) and Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN). The new model has siphoned off demand for both movies and the premium shows from cable and pay TV. Release on these platforms can add tens of millions of dollars to the “equivalent” of ticket sales. However, the split between the streaming company and the studios is often not favorable enough to make an unsuccessful movie into a money maker.

ALSO READ: Why Disney Shares May Be Headed Up to $100, With or Without Star Wars

At least movie producers can claim that box office sales have not plunged recently but have only dipped modestly, a sign that consumers still often favor the big-screen experience. Total annual ticket sales have hovered between $10 billion and $11 billion since 2009.

From Box Office Mojo:

Forecast (July 18-20)

  1. Dawn/Apes — $33.4 million (-54%)
  2. The Purge — $30 million
  3. Sex Tape — $24 million
  4. Planes — $22 million
  5. Transformers — $8 million (-51%)