This weekend Jurassic World found out what it takes to beat Marvel’s superheroes — Nineties nostalgia. The movie’s opening weekend at the box office looks like it has beaten The Avengers to become the biggest domestic opening weekend ever, raking in between $208 and $210 million according to estimates cited by Deadline. Marvel’s first superhero mashup The Avengers has held the top spot for domestic weekend openings, as well as other box office records, since it was released in the spring of 2012, but Jurassic World has something that even Marvel’s seemingly unbeatable formula doesn’t, and that’s history with a wide audience.
The film has already scored the biggest opening weekend if you count international sales, making $307.2 million overseas for a total of $511.8 million worldwide per Box Office Mojo. That’s the first time any movie has grossed more than $500 million in one weekend.
Box Office Mojo is using numbers from Universal, which estimate Jurassic World’s take slightly lower than the analysts cited by Deadline at $204.6 million domestically. That’s lower than The Avengers’s $207.4 million, but box office watchers are saying the final numbers are going to come in higher than the conservative estimates Universal is offering.
Marvel has gotten its box office smashing formula down to an absolute science, and it’s offerings are particularly successful when it gets all of its heroes together into the Avengers films. The first one has held the record for the number one domestic weekend opening, and the second installment Age of Ultron, which came out this spring, was in number two with $191 million.
Most knew that Jurassic World was going to come in the top spot at the box office, with star Chris Pratt and the Jurassic Park franchise name going for it. But the movie’s take ended up beating even the most optimistic estimates and it looks like this summer just maybe the dinosaurs could end up beating the superheroes with some help from one big thing, nostalgia. That’s something that Marvel’s movies don’t really have going for them except among long-time fans of the comic books, people who it’s safe to say don’t make up for the majority of the billions of dollars in ticket sales those movies make at the box office.
Jurassic Park, however, is a classic film that has been loved by generations. While the sequels didn’t match the quality of the first film, Steven Spielberg’s genius with Jurassic Park was making a movie that could entertain adults and capture the imagination of children even over 20 years later. The hope of recapturing those feelings stirred by the first movie would drive audiences into theaters for a reboot with bigger, badder dinosaurs.
The dinosaurs and the nostalgia were and will continue to be the biggest draws in getting people into theaters for this movie. But star Chris Pratt is helping as well, and his role in this movie will solidify his position as the new superstar of the summer box office. Pratt’s first big film role after working on television on Parks and Recreation for six seasons was in last summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy, a Marvel film that would become the top-grossing movie of the year. Add on Jurassic World just a year later, and Pratt is proving highly bankable indeed.
This example is likely an exception rather than some kind of representation of change as Marvel’s movies will probably reliably continue to dominate the box office, but it does seem as though for the summer of 2015 dinosaurs beat superheroes.
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