Apollo 13 Turns 25, Transformers Sequels Invade, Superman Returns, WALL-E Debuts, & More

We hit the midpoint of the 2020 calendar with the 26th weekend of the year officially this weekend. It’s a time of prominent blockbuster launches in the past few years as studios have capitalized with some of their biggest family-friendly and popcorn releases on the midsummer / pre-Fourth of July corridor.

The weekend ahead was originally scheduled to see Tom Cruise ‘s return in the highly anticipated Top Gun: Maverick as well as Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights, before COVID-19 delays. The former of those is now scheduled for a release on December 23 later this year, while the latter was shuffled to June 18, 2021.

The Age of Transformers
Through naming one franchise, almost one-third of the top ten openings on this frame are easily summarised. The producer carried out another four sequels between 2009 and 2017 following the 2007 success of Michael Bay’s Transformers adaptation — three of them debuting on this exact weekend.
The record-holder of the time is the franchise’s first sequel: 2009’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Thanks to the popularity of 2007 ‘s predecessor, the insta-blockbuster was one of the most anticipated films of the year, receiving $62 million in its first day of release (a Wednesday). That was second among all-time records only to the $67.2 million first day of The Dark Knight. At the time, Fallen also earned the second-best five-day start in history with $200.1 million, behind Dark Knight ($203.8 million), too. The real start to the three-day weekend reported at $109 million.
In reality, Dark of the Moon eventually capitalized on global market growth and its 3D format to become the franchise’s best performer internationally. The three-qual won $1.12 billion in 2011, just missing the Potter finale ($1.34 billion)

Animation Domination Continues
Without a tentpole animated release in the mix, it will not be midsummer and the benchmark for this weekend belongs to the Despicable Me 3 of Illumination. Being the fourth film in the franchise, including the 2015 Minions spin-off, the most recent chapter obviously anticipated some diminishing returns. Still, the pic debuted to a respectable domestic weekend of $72.4 million and finished with $264.6 million, ranking ninth for 2017. Globally, the sequel eclipsed the $1 billion ($1.035 billion) threshold and ranked fourth for the year.
Minions: The Rise of Gru, a fifth entry in the series, has been postponed from release this summer to July 2, 2021.
The popular Pixar is not to be left far behind though. In back-to-back years, two more of their entries landed on this weekend, beginning with Ratatouille in 2007. The original film opened at $47 million, and although being impressive in the grand scheme of things, it marked the lowest Pixar release ever for a typical three-day opening weekend. The film marked one of the early moves of the studio towards more sophisticated storytelling but still proved to be adequately open to children and laid out domestically at $206.5 million.
Ratatouille is one of the few Pixar titles not to finish in the top ten for her year, placing 11th in 2007 but ending 6th worldwide with $623.7 million. In the end, the writer/director Brad Bird took the Oscar for Best Animated Feature home.

Live-Action Hits
Franchises and animated films that cater to children and families dominated this weekend, but a quartet of other releases are responsible for some of the top ten debuts during the frame.
Highest among them is the 2005 remake of War of the Worlds by Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Cruise who drew a three-day weekend launch of $64.9 million as part of a five-day release for $100.6 million. The midweek release was the biggest launch of Cruise ‘s career up to that point while ranking second for Spielberg (behind The Lost World: Jurassic Park‘s $72.1 million). The film drew big numbers domestically at $234.3 million and internationally at $603.9 million, ranking fourth on both fronts that year.
A year later, Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns went to the big pre-Fourth July tentpole location. The popularity of the director with the X-Men franchise, as well as the increasing enthusiasm for comic book movies in the aftermath of the Spider-Man movies and Batman Begins, led to great hopes for a return to one of the genre ‘s biggest icons.
Although critics and nostalgic fans lauded the sequel’s return to the character-driven core of Richard Donner’s original films, with a $52.5 million weekend debut ($84.6 million five-day), Returns missed expectations as it couldn’t pull in younger viewers with nostalgic lean. The film ended domestically with $200.1 million and internationally with $391.1 million, ranking sixth and eighth for 2006, respectively.
The film was sadly regarded as a financial failure with a production budget estimated at around $270 million that put the franchise back on ice for another seven years.
Counter-programming was on this weekend’s menu in 2008, as Wanted debuted alongside the aforementioned WALL-E. With a powerful marketing campaign and star power from Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman and the lead-on-the-rise James McAvoy, the graphic novel adaptation generated considerable interest. It posted one of the top R-rated debuts in history at the time with an opening weekend of $50.9 million, eventually earning $134.5 million domestically and $342.5 million worldwide on a production budget of $75 million.

Happy Anniversary to the Crew of Apollo 13
Ron Howard’s Apollo 13, last but not least, deserves a shout-out on this chart. Granted, its $25.4 million debut in 1995 puts it far down the list of opening weekend box office rankings, but this weekend the modern classic based on the true story celebrates its 25th anniversary while also following the real-life event’s 50th anniversary in April 1970.
Apollo 13 was and remains widely regarded as one of the most accurate on-screen depictions of the Apollo program and the near-disaster that struck the Apollo 13 crew, with an all-star cast led by Tom Hanks during his unmatched run of box office success in the 1990s.
Putting character first while also pushing the boundaries of the visual effect during its era, the film continued to become a blockbuster for runaways. His debut for the year was sixth but higher than any other original movie outside Disney’s Pocahontas ($29.5 million).
In terms of domestic stellar $172.1 million and global $353.2 million, Apollo 13 finished third on both fronts in 1995 – not far behind Die Hard ‘s final Revenge talks ($100 million domestic/$366 million worldwide), Toy Story ($191.8 million domestic/$363 million worldwide), and Batman Forever ($184 million domestic/$336.5 million global).
Nominated for nine Oscars, including Best Picture, the film was awarded two for Film Editing and Sound Mixing.

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