For most of 2009 the domestic box office has been experiencing record-level grosses, but that wasn’t the case in the month of July. After new monthly records were set by the combined box office takes of April, May and June, the combined box office of $1.17 billion for July 2009 fell well short of matching the current July record of $1.30 billion set in 2007. Though to be fair, the possibility of July 2009 breaking that record felt highly unlikely at the beginning of the month. This July fell 6.5 percent short of matching the $1.25 billion combined gross of July 2008. That was a more achievable goal, but was still difficult in its own right given the enormous success of The Dark Knight last July.
While a number of this month’s wide releases performed well in their own right, together they simply couldn’t live up to the line-ups of July 2007 and July 2008. Films released in July 2007 included Transformers, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, The Simpsons Movie, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and Hairspray. While July 2008 delivered The Dark Knight, Hancock, Mamma Mia!, Journey to the Center of the Earth and Step Brothers. With that said the overall box office for 2009 is still running a comfortable 7 percent ahead of 2008 at the same point in time.
Although opening weekend grosses for Fox’s Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and Universal’s Public Enemies were both a bit softer than most were anticipating, the first weekend of July still started off strong thanks in part to the second weekend performance of Paramount’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. While Transformers 2 experienced a drop-off of 61 percent that weekend, it was still able to win the weekend race. The blockbuster sequel experienced much stronger weekend holds throughout the rest of July and was ultimately the third highest grossing film in the month, after already being the highest grossing film in June.
After the slower than expected start, Ice Age 3 held up extremely well throughout most of the month. The computer animated sequel saw strong midweek grosses with younger moviegoers on Summer vacation. While the film’s run was eventually hampered towards the end of July by Disney’s G-Force, Ice Age 3 was the second highest grossing film of the month. It performed especially well when considering its massive international grosses and its $90 million production budget, which is relatively modest for a major computer-animated release.
Public Enemies wasn’t able to rebound anywhere near the extent that Ice Age 3 did. However, the gangster film was still the fourth highest grossing film during the month and may just have enough left to clear the $100 million mark by the end of its run. The following week Universal released Brüno. Although the R-rated comedy opened with $14.40 million on its first day of release, it self-destructed before its opening weekend had even finished and could never recover. Brüno hasn’t been a total disappointment given its production cost and international performance, but its under-performance domestically was a significant blow to July’s combined box office.
On July 15th Warner Bros. finally unleashed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The sixth Harry Potter film grossed a massive $58.18 million on its first day of release, with an estimated 38 percent of that opening day figure being earned from midnight screenings. In the days ahead, Harry Potter 6 fell off much faster than 2007’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. However, Harry Potter 6 was able to stabilize towards the end of the month once it was released in IMAX locations which were previously being used by Transformers 2. Harry Potter 6 was easily the highest grossing film of the month and like Ice Age 3 and the previous Harry Potter films before it, performed exceptionally well internationally.
Together Harry Potter 6, Ice Age 3 and Transformers 2 grossed $577.9 million in July, which represented nearly 50 percent of the month’s total box office take. There were other bright spots in July though. Disney’s The Proposal and Warner’s The Hangover maintained a great level of momentum from June as the comedies grossed an additional $134.3 million in July between the two of them.
The weekend of July 24th also delivered three solid performers in G-Force, Sony’s The Ugly Truth and Warner’s Orphan. G-Force opened in first place that weekend with a minor upset victory over the second weekend performance of Harry Potter 6. The Ugly Truth opened slightly above expectations, while Orphan has held up nicely thus far for a horror film.
For the month of July, the top ten films were as follows:
Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince ($243.1 million), Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs ($178.2 million), Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($156.5 million), Public Enemies ($91.4 million), The Proposal ($70.4 million), The Hangover ($63.9 million), Brüno ($58.5 million), G-Force ($55.2 million), The Ugly Truth ($45.9 million) and UP ($30.3 million).