The box office performances of Iron Man 3, The Great Gatsby, and Star Trek Into Darkness have already helped May lift 2013's bottom line. Next comes the time of year every exhibitor looks forward to: Memorial Day weekend. In fact, 2013's first holiday frame of summer may be the most anticipated in a long time.
This weekend will see the release of three new titles: Fast & Furious 6, The Hangover Part III, and Epic. The former two are expected to post big numbers, while Epic has more reserved expectations behind it. That flick's main advantage will be the fact that no animated movies have opened since March's The Croods--meaning families with little kids will be looking for something new.
That being said, the real stories will be the two franchise sequels. BoxOffice is currently forecasting openings of $108 million and $73 million for Fast 6 and the third Hangover, respectively. Add in our expected $30 million for Epic, and the new releases alone should account for more than $200 million of business between Friday and Monday.
By comparison, the entire market (new releases and holdovers combined) totaled $196.3 million during 2012's four-day Memorial weekend. It was the second lowest-grossing Memorial frame since 2001 and the least-attended of the new century.
The tune is changing this year, though, as the approaching weekend may be one for the record books.
Some perspective: The biggest four-day Memorial weekend on record belongs to 2011 when The Hangover Part II and Kung Fu Panda 2 helped drive a market haul of $276.9 million. (Those two pics accounted for $164.3 million of that.)
For those wondering, the best ever 4-day market performance belongs to December 25-28, 2009. The massive success of Avatar, Sherlock Holmes, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, and It's Complicated contributed to an incredible $331.1 million market gross back then.
Keeping in mind the aforementioned $200+ million from three new releases alone, it is likely that positive word of mouth for Star Trek Into Darkness, The Great Gatsby, and Iron Man 3 will keep the combined gross of all holdovers close to $85-90 million (if not slightly more). That means a likely four-day market gross north of $285 million. $300 million or more is even looking likely at this point.
In other words, 2011's record $276.9 million Memorial weekend will probably lose its title much quicker than the previous holder (2004's $258.4 million). For this not to be the case, one of this weekend's openers would have to fall drastically short of expectations.
Though not to downplay the potential blockbuster success of the approaching holiday, the loftier challenge will be meeting 2004's inflation-adjusted four-day gross of $335 million. It remains the most heavily attended Memorial weekend. You can check out how recent Memorial Day frames have ranked in our charts below:
4-Day Memorial Weekends since 2000
2011: $276.9 million (#1 movie: The Hangover Part II)
2004: $258.4 million (#1 movie: Shrek 2)
2007: $255.1 million (#1 movie: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End)
2006: $241.2 million (#1 movie: X-Men: The Last Stand)
2005: $231.6 million (#1 movie: Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith)
2009: $221.5 million (#1 movie: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian)
2008: $219.1 million (#1 movie: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull)
2002: $215.4 million (#1 movie: Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones)
2003: $210.4 million (#1 movie: Bruce Almighty)
2012: $194.1 million (#1 movie: Men in Black 3)
2010: $192.6 million (#1 movie: Shrek Forever After)
2001: $187.5 million (#1 movie: Pearl Harbor)
2000: $185.8 million (#1 movie: Mission: Impossible II)
4-Day Memorial Weekends since 2000 (Adjusted for Ticket Price Inflation)
2004: $334.9 million
2002: $299.0 million
2007: $298.5 million
2006: $296.4 million
2005: $290.9 million
2011: $281.1 million
2003: $280.9 million
2000: $277.4 million
2001: $267.1 million
2008: $245.6 million
2009: $237.8 million
2010: $196.5 million
2012: $196.3 million
Stay tuned to BoxOffice as we publish our final forecast for Fast & Furious 6, The Hangover Part III, and Epic on Wednesday evening.
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The Fast & Furious 6 trailer:
The Hangover Part III trailer:
The Epic trailer: