Box Office: Pain & Gain Overcomes Oblivion, Plus Iron Man 3 Is On Pace For $1 Billion

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Act like you’ve done this before. Apparently, Anthony Mackie has not.

You could argue that Michael Bay creates action stars. Well, let me rephrase. Bay creates action stars of a certain pedigree. Before Will Smith became Mr. Fourth of July Box Office Star (minus the putrid known as Wild Wild West), he starred in Bay’s Bad Boys. That movie paved the way for the Fresh Prince to whoop E.T.’s ass before partnering with Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black. Then you have someone like Nicolas Cage who, after winning an Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas went to diffuse some rockets on Alcatraz with 007. But for every Will Smith and Nicolas Cage you have a Ewan McGreggor. Unfortunately, he was cast as the lead in Bay’s The Island, a film that one could consider a financial bomb against the director. If one were to jump to conclusions that person would assume that this is the reason why Bay gravitated to those Robots-in-Disguise Hasbro toys. He’s been handling that franchise for eight years. Three films and $2.6 billion later, however, he needed a break and make something he wanted to make. With a lot of equity (read: FU money built up) Bay could afford another risk. Christopher Nolan did he same thing after The Dark Knight and made Inception. Bay’s is much smaller in scale and scope – only $26 million and with a story that’s more inside the Coen brothers wheelhouse than his own.

Titled Pain & Gain and starring the likes of Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson the dark comedy made a nice $20 million. Considering that the movie was a little over two hours, R-rated and loaded with brutality and violence, it’s a win. But it’s one of those that’s likely going to be lost in the shuffle with the summer blockbuster season starting this Friday with the release of Iron Man 3. This time two years ago Fast Five was making a killing. Pain & Gain got a lukewarm critical reception, but much better than those Transformers flicks. And those critics that did enjoy it (including both Scott and myself), you wish Bay would move on to other genres instead of being corralled into doing a fourth Transformers movie. On the bright side Shia LaBeouf is out and Mark Wahlberg is in. The down side: It’s a fourth Transformers movie.

Paramount Pictures, the studio that released P&G, used to have the distribution rights to the Iron Man franchise. Unfortunately, those dollar earnings are now with Disney due to the Mouse House’s acquisition of Marvel Comics. Nevertheless, Iron Man 3 has already been unleashed overseas, and it has already broken all-time opening weekend records in Argentina, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore. Yeah, so Tony Stark is sort of a big deal. The movie has taken a total of $195 million in overseas tickets alone, and box office tracking suggests that it will be another billion dollar hit for Marvel.

Getting pushed to second was Tom Cruise’s Oblivion. Word-of-mouth was tough; I even recall hearing one guy say that it was something he never needed to see again. Sci-fi projects are always risky for studios, but it is the first of what I hope is a landmark year for the genre with upcoming movies like Elysium, Ender’s Game and Gravity among others. It could be worse. Oblivion could have been Steven Soderbergh remaking Solaris with George Clooney and having audiences go “huh?”. At this rate, Tom Cruise’s latest may not make it to $100 million domestic, but it’s already at $200 million worldwide.

42 continues to perform strong in this third week. The film may not spawn imitators or other sports dramas/biopics the way that Ridley Scott’s Gladiator brought sword-and-sandals epics in vogue again, but studios may want to think about scheduling films for a wide demographic audience for the period in between Spring Break and the start of the summer blockbusters. Have a few mid-level films ($30-$40 million range) and see how they perform in a four- to eight-week span.


Poor Ben Barnes. I bet he wishes he was back in Narnia.

The other major release debuting was The Big Wedding. I remember seeing the trailer a few times and knowing that it would bomb. A wedding comedy with a star-studded (and I use that adjective loosely) cast from circa 2004. Costing a few million more than Bay’s Pain & Gain the cast included the likes of Robert De Niro, Susan Sarandon, Diane Keaton, Katherine Heigl, Topher Grace and Robin Williams. The ads made it look like one of the worst romantic comedies (here’s the key to making a romance (comedy or drama) that will likely be found in a woman’s collection: have it involve any combination of Julia Roberts, Drew Barrymore, Hugh Grant, and Ryan Gosling). Lionsgate may have only acquired it for $10 million, but when the first weekend earning is less than $8 million, you have failed. The suits are probably thinking November and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire can’t get here soon enough.

Six weeks in row The Croods has been in the top five. Family films tend to have legs, especially when there’s no direct competition. Which should prove interesting in late May when The Hangover III goes up against Fast & Furious 6 on Memorial Day Weekend. (A note to Bradley Cooper: Don’t mess the Brahma Bull, or you’ll get the horns.) Fox’s first DreamWorks Animation release is closing in on $170 million stateside, and should eclipse half a billion worldwide in a few weeks. Right below it is G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which may be the first time a wrestler-cum-actor has had two films in the top 10.

The less said about Scary Movie 5 the better, but I fear it will be one of those Redbox titles that people will pick up looking for a good laugh. Sadly, they’ll still be waiting after 85 minutes. Olympus Has Fallen continues its trek to $100 million, while Ryan Gosling’s The Place Beyond the Pines continues to act as counterprogramming as it rounds out the top 10 of 2013 releases. Jurassic Park 3D takes spot #10 as it narrowly beats out the Matthew McConaughey-starrer Mud.

Other arthouse offerings that opened this past weekend include IFC’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist (3 screens, $32.7k), The Weinsteins’ Kon-Tiki (2 screens, $22.3k), Sony Pictures Classics’ At Any Price (4 screens, $16.6k) and Drafthouse Films’ Graceland (14 screens, $11.1k). Do yourself a favor and take a chance on an arthouse release near you.


Weekend Box-Office Top Ten for April 26 – April 28, 2013

1. Pain & Gain (Paramount) – $20 MILLION

2. Oblivion (Universal) – $17.4 MILLION ($64.7 mil. cume)

3. 42 (Warner Bros.) – $10.7 MILLION ($69 mil. cume)

4. The Big Wedding (Lionsgate) – $7.5 MILLION

5. The Croods (Fox/Dreamworks) – $6.6 MILLION ($163 mil. cume)

6. G.I. Joe: Retaliation (Paramount) – $3.6 MILLION ($116.3 mil. cume)

7. Scary Movie 5 (The Weinstein Company) – $3.45 MILLION ($27.4 mil. cume)

8. Olympus Has Fallen (FilmDistrict) – $2.76 MILLION ($93 mil. cume)

9. The Place Beyond the Pines (Focus) – $2.7 MILLION ($16.2 mil. cume)

10. Jurassic Park 3D (Universal) – $2.3 MILLION ($42 mil. cume)

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