By Diana Drumm | The Playlist July 21, 2013 at 1:46PM
It was a dismal weekend, with total ticket sales down 20% from last year. Not only that, but a horror movie, albeit a pretty good one, has taken the top spot. Did Hollywood underestimate the movie-going public? Do these numbers indicate that America is finally taking a stand against generic would-be blockbusters? Or are movies really now so bad that "Despicable Me 2" is apparently the biggest boon of the summer? Will "The Conjuring" be another flash-in-the-pan like "The Purge" (debuted number one and then suffered one of the largest box office drops of the summer)? We still have a few more weeks to see how the summer pans out, but this appears to be the summer of big-budget disappointments—"The Lone Ranger," "Grown Ups 2" beating "Pacific Rim," etc. Do you think "The Wolverine" will pick big budget movies up by the bootstraps next week or should we all just patiently wait for a somewhat intelligent comedy like "The World's End" in a month?
With a big debut of $41.5 million, James Wan's R-rated "The Conjuring" made back more than double its budget ($20 million) for Warner Bros. within the opening weekend alone. Starring Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as paranormal investigators, the couple are called on to help a family with a supernatural presence in their barn. Harkening back to "The Amityville Horror," it's sure to send chills down your spine, which may help with the summer heat. Let's see if it gets 'Purge'd next weekend or the growing buzz will generate more ticket sales from people willingly wanting to be spooked out. Certainly, WB is banking on the latter as they already have a sequel cooking. Check out our review here.
In second place, "Despicable Me 2" is still most liked amongst families and youngsters with $25.1 million for the weekend and a grand total of $276 million, crossing the domestic $275 million mark and the worldwide $500 million mark. In third place, "Turbo" debuted with $21.5 million. The original cartoon (not a sequel!) is about a garden snail (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) who pursues his dream of not just racing in but winning the Indy 500. Unfortunately for Fox, the $135 million-budgeted movie did not outrun (outslime? outslip?) the charms of Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) and his minions. Check out our review here.
Get ready to yack, "Grown Ups 2" is in fourth with $20 million and proving to be the most profitable (and therefore best?) thing from Sony this summer, the studio that brought you "After Earth" and "White House Down." Next up, "Red 2" opened in a depressing fifth place with $18.5 million, behind the original "Red" opening weekend of $21.7 million back in 2010, perhaps suggesting this was a sequel no one wanted. A star-filled cast with a tried-true (but now tired?) premise, the whole Red gang is back (Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Mary-Louise Parker) with the fun additions of Soviet spy Catherine Zeta-Jones and absent-minded professor/nuclear scientist Anthony Hopkins to save the world. Although the original made over $200 million worldwide, this opening weekend does not bode well for a repeat or a "Red 3" hat trick, although the film may come out all right in foreign markets with big stars, big action and all. Check out our review here.
In sixth, "Pacific Rim" is keeping its head above water with $15.9 million for the weekend, but despite geek and critic hopes that it would follow the way of "World War Z" (still in the top ten in its fifth week), the robot-monster movie doesn't look like it's going to stay around much longer with the largest percentage dip of the top ten.
In seventh, with the most disappointing debut of the weekend and possibly entire summer, "R.I.P.D." made $12.8 million for the weekend, which is made all the more painful when you realize not only did it waste time and talent but also $130 million worth of money. Directed by Robert Schwenke (the man behind "Red" and "Flightplan") and starring Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges and Mary-Louise Parker, a cop (Reynolds) dies and is recruited by the R.I.P.D. to team up with another dead cop (Bridges) to round up souls on the run. Sounding a bit like "M.I.B." meets "Ghostbusters," check out our not-so-favorable review here. For some perspective, this movie opened lower than "Battleship" (which only earned $25 million in its first weekend), but it also cost less to produce ("Battleship" cost roughly $209 million), but it's easily Universal's biggest bomb since. Between "R.I.P.D." and "Turbo 2," Ryan Reynolds might need some serious career rehab. Universal has already started to scale back "R.I.P.D." marketing (according to THR), although they're not in the red quite yet, as they are still swimming in "Despicable Me 2" mega-profits.
In eighth with the slightest percentage drop, "The Heat" is still warm with $9.3 million. Rounding out the top ten, "World War Z" has yet to be snuffed out in ninth with $5.2 million and "Monsters University" earned a passing grade in tenth with $5 million (and its a breath away from the domestic $250 million mark).
As for specialty box office, Joshua Oppenheimer's "The Act of Killing" came out in front with the best opening per-theater-average of the weekend and best for a documentary so far this year. The Danish-English-Norwegian production (led by executive producers Werner Herzog and Errol Morris) catches up with Indonesian gangster Anwar Congo, who was also a founder of the Pemuda Pancasila (an Indonesian right-wing regime). Recreating the killings committed by he and his friends, Anwar Congo and friends open up about the killings themselves and their feelings towards violence. Distributed by Drafthouse Films, the film opened in one theater and made $28,067. In second place and in its second week, holdover Ryan Coogler's "Fruitvale Station" expanded from 7 to 34 theaters and made a very substantial $742,272 (up an astonishing 92% from last week) for The Weinstein Company, averaging $21,832 per theater. In third, Gabriela Cowperthwaite's "Blackfish" opened in four theaters and made $66,500, averaging $16,625 per theater. The aquatic documentary explores both sides of keeping killer whale Tilikum in captivity—yes, we all love Shamu, but would you be as thrilled to go to Seaworld if you knew he was a serial killer with a body count of 3? In fourth place, Andrew Bujalski's "Computer Chess" opened in one theater and made $18,322. Distributed by Kino Lorber, the nerd-centric comedy follows a man vs. computer chess tournament in the 1980s, with a John Henry-style human spirit vs. technology theme. In fifth place and in its third week, holdover Nat Faxon's and Jim Rash's "The Way, Way Back" is still holding strong after expanding from 79 to 304 theaters and is set to expand even farther in the 650-750 range. This weekend, the film made $2,240,000, averaging $7,368 per theater. Unfortunately, the indie box office also suffered slight disappointments with 2 star-led films that appear to have possibly opened in too many theaters. Nicolas Winding Refn's follow-up to "Drive," "Only God Forgives" starring Ryan Gosling opened in 78 theaters and made a more-than-decent $315,000, but only averaged $4,038 per theater. Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini's "Girl Most Likely" starring Kristen Wiig and Annette Bening opened in 353 theaters and made pretty nice figure $736,005, but again only averaged $2,085 per theater.
1. The Conjuring (Warner Bros.) - $41,530,000
2. Despicable Me 2 (Universal) - $25,059,000 ($276,159,000)
3. Turbo (Fox) - $21,500,000
4. Grown Ups 2 (Sony) – $20,000,000 ($79,500,000)
5. Red 2 (Lionsgate) - $18,500,000
6. Pacific Rim (Warner Bros.) - $15,955,000 ($68,235,000)
7. R.I.P.D. (Universal) - $12,763,000
8. The Heat (Fox) - $14,000,000 ($129,292,000)
9. World War Z (Paramount) - $5,200,000 ($186,941,000)
10. Monsters University (Buena Vista) - $5,005,000 ($248,998,000)