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Why Jurassic World 2 Couldn't Live Up To Jurassic World's Box Office Numbers

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and its dinosaur stars took over the box office during its opening weekend, bringing in a massive $150 million. This was easily enough for a first place premiere weekend, and gives the movie the fourth biggest opening of 2018 to date. But the film's numbers still reveal some potential disappointment for Universal Pictures, mostly due to the fact that they come nowhere close to matching the $208.8 million opening that Jurassic World posted in 2015.

Still, Universal seems to be quite happy with Fallen Kingdom's performance, as they well should be — as of the time of this writing, the movie has already made over $700 million worldwide, and it's poised to stay near the top of the U.S. and international box office for quite a while longer. However, the fact that the film couldn't live up to its predecessor's opening could still hint at some kind of trouble for the monstrous franchise, even if it's currently holding strong. Here's a spoiler-filled look at why Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom couldn't top Jurassic World's box office numbers.

It's not an event movie

It had been 14 years since the last Jurassic Park movie had hit theaters when Jurassic World debuted, making it the type of event movie that couldn't be missed on opening weekend. That helped to bring in people who weren't necessarily fans of the franchise or interested in action-heavy films. Jurassic World was a cultural phenomenon that you just had to see in 2015.

Since Jurassic World's release, however, we've gotten four films in the rebooted Star Wars franchise, along with the tentpole Avengers: Infinity War, the long awaited sequel The Incredibles 2, and dozens of other movies that fit under that event designation. Fallen Kingdom, meanwhile, is no longer a long-awaited reboot...it's just another sequel, which means that only people who are fans of the franchise are likely to turn out.

This was evident in the movie's box office returns, with analysts noting that the movie's performance more closely resembled the release of a family movie than an event movie. People under the age of 25 made up 56 percent of the ticket buyers, and it was those viewers, driven primarily by families, who helped push the movie to its solid opening numbers. It's not possible to maintain the event designation for every film, but that may have contributed to its opening weekend.

Mixed reviews

Reviews don't necessarily have a huge role for movies like Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, but they still can play a part. Fallen Kingdom received definitively mixed reviews from critics, earning a 50 percent approval on Rotten Tomatoes. The platform summarizes critics' reviews by saying, "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom adds another set piece-packed entry to the blockbuster franchise, although genuinely thrilling moments are in increasingly short supply." 

Opening night audiences leaned more in the movie's favor, awarding it an A- CinemaScore (via The New York Times), but Rotten Tomatoes' viewer score tells a slightly different story, with the movie managing just a 61 percent approval rating. By any metric, the movie's reviews are below those of Jurassic World, which earned a 71 percent rating from critics and a 78 percent rating from audiences. That film also earned a solid A CinemaScore. Although Fallen Kingdom's reviews weren't universally bad, they certainly weren't good enough to pull in unsure potential viewers.

Middle of the trilogy struggles

Trilogies aren't easy to pull off. Finding a story that can work over three movies while still providing interesting stories within each is a struggle — and making the middle movie in the trilogy any good might just be the hardest part. While the first film gets to set up the story and the last gets to finish it, the middle movie has to find a way to be interesting and raise the stakes while still leaving somewhere to go in the third film.

Fallen Kingdom faces this struggle head on — and some critics didn't think the film managed to rise to the challenge. David Sims expressed as much in his review for The Atlantic, writing, "As Fallen Kingdom rushes toward its conclusion, it becomes clear that it's just putting things in place for an already greenlit sequel [...] where the [...] brand overreach will be complete at last." 

With a potentially lackluster plot, some audiences may be tempted to just wait and catch this one on TV.

Franchise fatigue

The summer blockbuster season starts earlier every year. In 2018, things kicked off with the massive MCU team-up Avengers: Infinity War in late-April. It quickly continued with Deadpool 2, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and The Incredibles 2 through May and mid-June. These films, with the relative exception of Solo, all brought in the big bucks at the box office. But the constant influx of sequels and recognizable titles could have audiences already trending towards franchise fatigue.

The overabundance of big action sequels and spin-offs could have hurt Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. In a summer full of movies with incredible special effects, what could Fallen Kingdom have done to set itself apart? It didn't help that some people are simply starting to get tired of the Jurassic Park films, feeling that they've lost their magic without original director Steven Spielberg.

"They are more concerned with the brand instead of upping the ante with their franchise," said Exhibitor Relations box office analyst Jeff Bock to Variety. "They seem to keep making them off the assembly line. In the long run, if we talk about mythology, you start to erode that when you put out a subpar product. Falling back on what's been done will ultimately doom the franchise." While that may be more of a problem for the untitled sequel, set to hit theaters in 2021, it still could have played into Fallen Kingdom's box office.

Superpowered competition

When the first Jurassic World hit theaters, it was able to bring in more than seven times the opening weekend of the movie that had the number one spot the weekend before: Melissa McCarthy's Spy, which brought in $29 million during its opening and $15.6 in its second weekend. Fallen Kingdom didn't have that luxury — the movie hit theaters the weekend after The Incredibles 2, which smashed box office records with a huge $180 million opening.

The Incredibles 2 didn't hold on quite as strongly as some expected in its second weekend, but it still dropped only 55.7 percent to bring in an additional $80.9 million in its second weekend. This was a huge number that could potentially have taken away some audiences from Fallen Kingdom

However, some suspect that Fallen Kingdom stomped on The Incredibles 2's second weekend, instead of the other way around. The movie pulled in more of a general audience than The Incredibles 2 (69 percent vs. 56 percent), and even managed to pull in a large number of families and children, despite the fact that The Incredibles 2 is animated — Jurassic World brought in 30 percent of families, as compared to Pixar sequel's 44 percent. Either way, this marks the first time ever during a non-holiday period that two movies opened back to back with opening weekends greater than $100 million, a massive and unprecedented feat that could have stolen away some of Fallen Kingdom's audience.

It still beat initial projections

Jurassic World smashed expectations when it debuted, and although Fallen Kingdom wasn't quite as impressive, the movie still managed to top box office projections. Going into the weekend, the film was expected to make somewhere between $130 to $140 million, which would have been a bit disappointing against its $170 million budget. However, the movie managed to top that with $150 million, mostly thanks to the power of families.

The film's grosses grew over the weekend, and Universal domestic distribution head Jim Orr noted, "When you see a Saturday like this easing 15 percent from that big Friday and preview gross, it means that families are driving business, and that's why we posted the results that we did." Thanks to the power of families, the movie was able to amass an opening weekend that was a solid performance against its budget, even if it wasn't quite as great as its predecessor.

Jurassic World just set expectations too high

The original Jurassic World set the record for the biggest domestic opening weekend of all time when it hit theaters in 2015. Even though that record was broken later that year by Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the movie still holds the title for the fourth biggest domestic opening and the fourth biggest worldwide opening of all time, behind The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Avengers: Infinity War.

The movie also holds a number of other impressive records, including the sixth highest grossing film overall domestic and the fifth highest worldwide, along with the highest opening weekend for the month of June and for the summer as a whole. The film's box office achievements are, in short, monumental, and they were just too high for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom to reach. 

Box office observers haven't been expecting the movie to do as well as its predecessor, and the movie wound up proving those expectations correct. However, the film still did remarkably well, giving Universal its second biggest domestic opening weekend ever after Jurassic World and proving that there's still life in this franchise yet. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom may not have reached the same heights as Jurassic World, but it's still far from going extinct at the multiplex.