Surprise hits can come in all forms, but I bet prior to the start of the summer no one expected Universal’s The Purge to win its weekend, especially opening alongside the Vince Vaughn-Owen Wilson comedy The Internship. Here you have a dystopian horror-thriller grossing a little less than $36.4 million domestically against the tame PG-13 comedy reunion of the two stars from Wedding Crashers, one of the most successful comedies of all time. A similar situation happened back in 2004 when Dodgeball (another Vince Vaughn comedy) opened up against the Steven Spielberg-Tom Hanks collaboration The Terminal. Spielberg and Hanks were on hot streaks at the time with films like Cast Away and Road to Perdition for Hanks, Minority Report for Spielberg, and Catch Me If You Can (for both Spielberg and Hanks). And yet here was this comedy about an activity that is deemed to violent to play in grade school and featuring cameos by Chuck Norris and then-celebrated Tour De France winner Lance Armstrong outpacing a Tom Hanks movie.
When you factor the cost of the average comedy is $30 million (The Internship was a reported $58 million – Vaughn and Wilson gots to get paid, right?) and microbudget horror features can cost anywhere from a few hundred thousand to a few million (The Purge was an estimated $3 million), what the Ethan Hawke thriller accomplished is all the more astonishing. There was a time when Hawke was apprehensive about being in horror features and thrillers, but after the success of last year’s Sinister, The Purge and with the upcoming Labor Day Weekend release Getaway, it seems that he’s embracing the opportunity to wield guns, sharp objects or get behind the wheel of a fast automobile. The $36 million opening of The Purge over the weekend makes it the highest-grossing debut of a non-sequel or non-remake R-rated horror film in history. It beat out the debut of The Strangers, also a home-invasion tale, by more than $16 million.
Finishing in second with $19.8 million is another Universal Pictures release, Fast & Furious 6. After three weeks it has passed the $200 million domestic mark. To put that into perspective, Furious 6 is outpacing its previous sequel, Fast Five, by $33 million after its first 17 days. So, yeah, Furious 6 will continue to be a part of the top ten discussion talk for the weeks to come.
Only $300k behind the sixth Fast & Furious release was Now You See Me with $19.5 million. Not bad considering it only lost roughly one-third of its audience of its opening weekend performance.
With countless advertising on part of Fox and a two-hour commercial for Google, which people have to pay to see, this summer’s first original comedy, The Internship, made a measly $18.1 million for the weekend. Those expecting Wedding Crashers 2.0 got a version of that (call it “Google Crashers”) but it couldn’t match the brashness of Wedding Crashers, a summer comedy that made more than $53 million its opening weekend eight years ago. Chalk it up to Vince Vaughn and his staleness when it comes to comedy projects. The guy is talented, and he’s got the whole salesman act down to a science, that you wish he would apply his verbosity and loquaciousness to projects that weren’t comedy related.
Until Monsters University arrives in a few weeks, it looks like the only option for the kiddos is Epic. It finished fifth, while After Earth took a big tumble down the list dropping from third to sixth in the second weekend. It also had the biggest drop in attendance, down 59%, of films currently in the top 10.
Star Trek Into Darkness became the fourth film this year to make it past the $200 million mark, and is now at $376.5 million worldwide. How does it compare to its predecessor? Star Trek made $385 million during its entire run, so Into Darkness will easily pass that mark. It won’t however be able to match Star Trek‘s $257 million domestic haul.
The Hangover Part III continues to fall down the board as word-of-mouth soured any chance for it to better its totals from The Hangover Part II (or the first Hangover for that matter). While Todd Phillips is the easy scapegoat, I’m sure some will blame Ken Jeong, proclaiming there was too much Chang, as well as debating the merit of seeing his “wang” again (oh, you didn’t stay for the credits – oops, I should have put Spoiler Alert in big, bold letters). Iron Man 3 is now at $394.3 million and $1.2 billion worldwide. That’s enough to make it the fifth highest-grossing global blockbuster of all time. Let this be early confirmation that Robert Downey Jr. is guaranteed to be there when The Avengers 2 rolls into production.
Finally, rounding out the list, The Great Gatsby. Whether or not it is “great,” I’ll leave that to you to decide.
At the specialty box office (aka indie releases that don’t get much traction in the major chains), we saw the opening of Joss Whedon’s B&W adaptation of Willie Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Opening at five theaters, it raked in $183,400. The documentary Dirty Wars, which I selected as one of the five films to see in theaters this June, opened at four theaters and made $66k. In its third week, Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight saw expansion from 31 to 52 theaters and averaged $11,243 per screen as a result. The East, Zal Batmanglij’s follow-up to Sound of My Voice, expanded from 4 to 41 theaters and averaged $6,024 per screen. Definitely support smaller movies when you can.
This week we have the latest Seth Rogen comedy This Is the End, where he makes his directorial debut alongside frequent writing collaborator Evan Goldberg, and a little movie about a guy named Kal-El. But you can call him Clark. It won’t be hard to pick the top film of the weekend. The question is how much will Man of Steel make? While it won’t reach the heights of The Avengers or Iron Man 3, I’m just hoping for a $142+ million figure that will move the Twilight movies further down the Biggest Opening Weekend List. We shall see.
1. The Purge (Universal) – $36.3 MILLION
2. Fast & Furious 6 (Universal) – $19.7 MILLION ($202.9 mil. cume)
3. Now You See Me (Summit Entertainment) – $19.5 MILLION ($61.3 mil. cume)
4. The Internship (Fox) – $18.1 MILLION
5. Epic (Fox) – $12.1 MILLION ($84.1 mil. cume)
6. Star Trek: Into Darkness (Paramount) – $11.7 MILLION ($200.1 mil. cume)
7. After Earth (Sony Pictures) – $11.2 MILLION ($46.5 mil. cume)
8. The Hangover Part III (Warner Bros.) – $7.3 MILLION ($88 mil. cume)
9. Iron Man 3 (Disney) – $5.7 MILLION ($394.3 mil. cume)
10. The Great Gatsby (Warner Bros.) – $4.2 MILLION ($136.1 mil. cume)
Tags: After Earth, Before Midnight, box office, box office report, epic, Fast & Furious 6, Furious 6, Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, Much Ado About Nothing, Now YOu See Me, Star Trek Into Darkness, The East, The Great Gatsby, The Hangover Part III, The internship, The Purge, This Is the End, weekend box office, weekend box office report