The common wisdom was that "Hercules" with Dwayne Johnson would easily beat the other major release this weekend - the sci-fi thriller "Lucy," with Scarlett Johansson. But it was the opposite, with "Lucy" taking in a very surprising $44 million, while "Hercules" came in a distant second, with $29 million.
So what happened to "Hercules"? 3 possible answers:
1 - Lack of confidence: For a big budget, potential “tent-pole” summer movie, it sure looked like Paramount didn’t have a lot of confidence in the film. The pre-release marketing campaign was virtually nil, and really didn’t go into high gear until last week. Compare that to "Lucy," which Universal had been basically promoting at least a month before its release, with TV ads and on the internet.
Also Paramount held back on advance press and preview screenings of "Hercules," until literally the Thursday night before the film’s Friday release. Whenever that happens, it’s almost a guarantee that the studio knows it has a stinker on its hands, and wants to keep any negative reviews to a minimum.
Ironically, though the reviews for "Hercules," so far, have been mainly positive, while the reviews for "Lucy," which was screened several days ahead of its release, have been decidedly mixed.
2 - Boredom: Could it be also that people saw the ads for the film, and felt that it looked like just another routine, over CGI’d, empty spectacle that they would forget the moment they left the theater? By late July, most people have had their fill of those kind of films, since early spring.
"Lucy," on the other hand, judging from the trailer and its premise, at least looked like something different.
3 - Women: They flocked to the theaters in droves to see a strong female character on the screen in an action film, who is not defined by a man, trying to get married or being stuck in the background as some lump's understanding wife, or husband, and that significantly boosted the b.o. for the film.
So what does the b.o. disappointment for "Hercules" mean for Johnson’s career? Not much. He’s had flops before; and also, name me another A-list actor or actress who doesn’t have their fair share of them. And, no doubt, the overseas box office will help soften the blow that Paramount will take on the film domestically.
Meanwhile, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," at the pace it's going, will easily surpass $200 million domestically (the film has already made $181 million overseas to date); and "The Purge: Anarchy" continues as well, on its way to being one of the most financially successful films of the year, when you compare its production cost to its box office take.
1) Lucy Uni. $44,025,000
2) Hercules Par. $29,000,000
3) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Fox $16,400,000 Total: $172,089,000
4) The Purge: Anarchy Uni. $9,896,000 Total: $51,272,000
5) Planes: Fire & Rescue BV $9,303,000 Total: $35,121,000
6) Sex Tape Sony $5,975,000 Total: $26,877,000
7) Transformers: Age of Extinction Par. $4,600,000 Total: $236,352,000
8) And So It Goes CE $4,552,000
9) Tammy WB $3,400,000 Total: $78,147,000
10) A Most Wanted Man RAtt. $2,717,000
11) 22 Jump Street Sony $2,500,000 Total: $185,654,000
12) How to Train Your Dragon 2 Fox $2,200,000 Total: $165,629,000