Four new films opened this weekend, joining an already full box office top ten: a dystopian epic actioner, a raunchy adult comedy, a kid-friendly cartoon, and a family-friendly action-myth story sequel. Duking it out for the top spot, the R-rated films took the lead while the PGs held their own in a crowded marquee.
After a few disappointments this summer, it looked like the movie-going public might be tired of epic sci-fis. Last weekend, we would have tended to agree, considering "Pacific Rim" and "After Earth." However, this weekend has changed our tune slightly as Neill Blomkamp's "Elysium" took the top spot and made $30.5 million for its 3-day box office. Falling short of Blomkamp's "District 9" ($37.4 million), the film's weekend box office beat out Matt Damon's last foray into sci-fi "The Adjustment Bureau" ($21.2 million) and Jodie Foster's last wide release "Nim's Island" ($13.2 million) by decent margins. Also, it's a boon for Sony, whose other highlight of the summer was the much maligned though moneymaking "Grown Ups 2." With "Pacific Rim" nearing a $300 million worldwide total ($297.2 million) with similar box office its opening weekend, and "World War Z" passing an eye-popping $500 million worldwide ($503 million) that also opened in second place albeit with better numbers ($66.4 million), we would wager that "Elysium" will follow suit and make back its estimated $115 million and some change by the end of its run, but not quite as staggering as 'WWZ.' Does this mean that Matt Damon can add another successful franchise besides 'Bourne' to his name? Not quite, but it shows that he can still lead a more-than-decent action/sci-fi thrillride after a few years out of the game ("Bourne Ultimatum" was six years ago).
This summer, we've had a few standout comedies ("The Heat," "This Is The End"), but also suffered through some real dreck ("The Internship"). With a would-be hilarious premise that didn't reach its full potential, "We’re The Millers" looks like it could be in the former category, at least box office-wise. Beating out "This Is The End" ($20.7 million) but not "The Heat" ($39.1 million), "We're The Millers" made $26.6 million for the three-day weekend and $38 million for the five-day, which are pretty decent numbers. Predictably, it's less than the last Jennifer Aniston-Jason Sudeikis outing and surprise hit "Horrible Bosses" ($28.3 million) but not by much, and luckily is more than Aniston's last film "Wanderlust" ($6.5 million). With a solid opening, the film may be on track to be Aniston's 6th movie with an over $100 million domestic gross.
Originally meant to be a straight-to-DVD release, Disney's "Planes" is not doing so badly in third place with a three-day opening weekend of $22.5 million. "The Cars" spinoff beats out the later (and not as well-received) family-friendly films of the summer ("Smurfs 2": $17.6 million, "Turbo": $21.3 million), but not quite reaching the heights of its two predecessors/cousins "Cars" ($60.1 million) and "Cars 2"($66.1 million). With a voice cast led by Dane Cook, whose last wide release was "My Best Friend's Girl" (which made $8.3 million its opening weekend), the movie has gone beyond initial expectations and did decently enough in the wake of "Monsters University" and "Despicable Me 2."
In a not-surprising fourth, "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters" opened with a lackluster $14.6 million. Lacking the stellar line-up of "Percy Jackson & The Olympians: Lightning Thief" (including Pierce Brosnan, Uma Thurman, Catherine Keener, Rosario Dawson, Steve Coogan, etc.), this second stab at the Rick Riordan-penned young adult series didn't even make half of its predecessor's opening weekend ($31.2 million). With school right around the corner, the majority of the film's core "young adult" demographic should be out enjoying their last few weeks of sun-filled freedom, but if they did end up in theaters this weekend, they probably snuck into "Elysium" or were dragged with younger siblings to see "Despicable Me 2" for the nth time.
"2 Guns" shot down to fifth with $11.1 million. In sixth, "The Smurfs 2" couldn't quite keep the smurf up with $9.5 million. In seventh, "The Wolverine" continues to slash and gnash its way, while suffering the largest percentage drop of 62.5%, with $8 million. "The Conjuring" is still haunting with $6.7 million. In ninth, Universal's darling "Despicable Me 2" is still on here after 6 weeks and with $5.8 million. In tenth, "Grown Ups 2" still manages to sit at the box office grown up table with $3.7 million.
As for specialty box office, highlights include "Chennai Express" with the biggest U.S. Bollywood opening weekend ever and "In A World..." with the largest per-theater-average of the weekend, both indie and mainstream. Leading this weekend's per-theater average, writer/director/actress Lake Bell's "In A World..." is about the trials and tribulations of a voiceover artist (Bell). Opening in 3 theaters, the Sundance hit made $70,980, averaging $23,660 per theater. According to what distributor Roadside Attractions told IndieWIRE, the film is planned to "expand into 8 new top markets and expect to be in the range of 25 screens, with further expansion in following weeks." In second and its third week, Woody Allen's holdover "Blue Jasmine" expanded from 50 to 119 theaters and made $2,523,355, averaging $21,205 per theater. In third and its second week, James Ponsoldt's "The Spectacular Now" expanded from 4 to 19 theaters and made $534,222, averaging $14,006 per theater. In fourth, Rohit Shetty's "Chennai Express," starring Sharukh Khan and Deepik Padukone, is about a man who journeys through South India and finds love along the way. Opening in 196 theaters, the Bollywood film made a staggering $2,225,000, averaging $11,352 per theater. In fifth and its second week, co-writer/director Fernando Trueba's holdover "The Artist and the Model" expanded from 2 to 5 theaters and made $45,938, averaging $3,845 per theater.
Also, there were a few indie disappointments this weekend. Writer/director Dan Mazer's Brit romcom "I Give It A Year" starring Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall (ensemble including Anna Faris, Simon Baker, Minnie Driver, and Stephen Merchant) opened in 2 theaters and made $5,800, averaging $2,900 per theater. Buzzed about at this year's Sundance, David Gordon Green's "Prince Avalanche" about two highway road workers played by Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch opened in 14 theaters and made $40,000, averaging a not-so-great $2,857 per theater. One of the more high profile films at this weekend's indie box office, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's "Lovelace" about porn star Linda Lovelace (Amanda Seyfriend) and with a star-studded cast (Peter Sarsgaard, Sharon Stone, James Franco, Hank Azaria, and loads more) opened in 118 theaters and made $184,176, averaging a dismal $1,561 per theater.
1. Elysium (Tristar/Sony) - $30,400,000
2. We’re the Millers (Warner Bros.) - $26,555,000
3. Planes (Buena Vista) - $22,525,000
4. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (Fox) - $14,600,000
5. 2 Guns (Universal) - $11,128,000 ($48,517,000)
6. The Smurfs 2 (Sony) - $9,500,000 ($46,600,000)
7. The Wolverine (Fox) - $8,000,000 ($111,986,000)
8. The Conjuring (Warner Bros.) - $6,700,000 ($120,745,000)
9. Despicable Me 2 (Universal) - $5,748,000 ($338,314,000)
10. Grown Ups 2 (Sony) – $3,700,000 ($123,800,000)