"The Purge," the first film from horror producer Jason Blum ("Paranormal Activity," "Insidious") to be released by Universal, grossed almost $17 million on Friday (including Thursday night late shows), more than five times its reported $3 million production cost, to be the dominant #1 film for the day. Benefiting from a gap since the last pure genre entry "Evil Dead" in early April and a smart social media marketing campaign, it grossed a little less than three times the total for the next three biggest films: "The Internship" (20th Century-Fox), "Fast & Furious 6" (Universal) and "Now You See Me" (Lionsgate), all of which grossed between $6 and $6.5 million.
1. The quick success for "The Purge," while good news for its backers, wasn't enough to boost the entire weekend. After two weeks of improved business after a consistent lag through most of the year, grosses yesterday for the top 10 were down significantly, to $50 million, from those of the Friday one year ago, $61 million, when two new films ("Prometheus" and "Madagascar 3") both grossed more than $20 million their first day. This weekend, based on the normal trajectory of horror films (which frequently decline from their initial numbers, plus the mediocre C Cinemascore reported from audiences) will likely mean a total for the weekend even further.
2. "The Internship" from Shawn Levy, starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, managed a tepid $6.5 million, with "Fast & Furious 6" and "Now You See It" (the latter rising to #1 midweek after its strong #2 last weekend) all jockeying for final position when the full results come in. The two holdovers both fell less than half, far better than #6 "After Earth" (Sony), down nearly two-thirds from its first day. Twentieth Century Fox's animated "Epic" sits in fifth place, with only a small drop as summer vacation begins to help its results.
"Star Trek Into Darkness," "The Hangover Part III," "Iron Man 3" and "The Great Gatsby" round out the top 10.
"Much Ado About Nothing," the new film from Joss Whedon, the director of last year's biggest hit "The Avengers" scored the best opening day for a limited opening since "The Place Beyond the Pines." The low-budget black & white Shakespeare adaptation grossed about $71,000 in five prime New York/Los Angeles theaters, making it the latest in a series of decent starts for specialized films (along with initial standouts "France Ha" and "Before Midnight").