Monday Update: In general, films were over-estimated on Sunday. Reported weekend actuals are $34.06 million for The Purge, $19.63 million for Fast & Furious 6, $19.04 million for Now You See Me and $17.33 million for The Internship.
With a weekend take of $11.43 million, Star Trek Into Darkness has grossed $199.87 million to date and will have to wait until today to surpass the $200 million mark after all.
Sunday Update: The Purge easily led the way at the box office this weekend with an estimated $36.4 million. The ultra-low budget R-rated thriller from Universal absolutely blew past pre-release expectations, which had ranged more in the neighborhood of $20 million to $25 million. There is no doubt that The Purge was helped out tremendously by the very high volume of online discussion the film generated in the weeks leading up to its release. The Purge opened 73 percent stronger than the $20.998 million debut of 2008's The Strangers and 102 percent stronger than the $18.01 million start of last year's Sinister (which also starred Ethan Hawke).
The Purge was quite front-loaded this weekend, which is commonplace with most horror films and thrillers that perform well at the box office. After opening with $16.8 million on Friday (which included an estimated $3.4 million from late night Thursday shows), The Purge grossed $10.4 million on Saturday and is estimated to gross $9.2 million on Sunday. That places the estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio for the film at 2.17 to 1. The audience breakdown for The Purge skewed towards female moviegoers (56 percent) and towards moviegoers under 25 (56 percent). The Purge received a C rating on CinemaScore, which is respectable given the film's genre. Given the film's strong performance and low overall cost, it should only be a matter of time before we see a sequel to The Purge.
Fellow Universal release Fast & Furious 6 took second with an estimated $19.8 million. In the process, the action sequel surpassed the $200 million domestic milestone this weekend. After a harsh second weekend decline last weekend, Fast & Furious 6 stabilized this weekend by falling 44 percent. The third weekend decline for Fast & Furious 6 was harsher than the 37 percent 2011's Fast Five fell in its third weekend, but not as sharp as the 57 percent 2009's Fast & Furious declined during its third weekend. With a 17-day take of $202.99 million, Fast & Furious 6 is running 20 percent stronger than the $169.69 million 17-day take of Fast Five.
Holding up very nicely this weekend was Now You See Me. The ensemble thriller from Lionsgate placed in third with an estimated $19.5 million. That represented a decline of just 34 percent from last weekend's already stronger than expected opening weekend performance. Now You See Me continues to exceed expectations with a ten-day take of $61.37 million. That places the film an impressive 31 percent ahead of the $46.77 million ten-day take of 2008's 21 (which fell 36 percent in its second weekend to gross $15.34 million). Now You See Me will hope to continue to hold up well going forward, though doing so will be much tougher next week with both Warner's Man of Steel and Sony's This Is The End entering the summer marketplace.
The Internship debuted in fourth place this weekend with an estimated $18.1 million. The PG-13 comedy from Fox opened towards the higher end of expectations (with word of mouth from last week's sneak previews having likely having helped the film's cause a bit). However, this weekend's performance was nonetheless a lackluster one given that the film was built around the reuniting of Wedding Crashers co-stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. The Internship opened 47 percent softer than the $33.90 million start of 2005's Wedding Crashers, but did manage to open 42 percent ahead of the disastrous $12.75 million debut of last year's The Watch. Clearly, neither Vaughn nor Wilson is anywhere near the type of box office draw that either used to be.
The Internship took in $6.50 million on Friday (an opening day take that was boosted by an estimated $800,000 from late night Thursday shows), grossed $6.63 million on Saturday and is estimated to gross $4.98 million on Sunday. The estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio for the film stands at 2.78 to 1. The Internship received a somewhat encouraging B+ rating on CinemaScore, though that may not mean as much as it normally would going forward with direct competition in the form of This Is The End arriving on Wednesday.
In other domestic box office news, Paramount's Star Trek Into Darkness surpassed the $200 million domestic mark after grossing an estimated $11.7 million this weekend. Meanwhile, Warner's The Hangover Part III surpassed the $100 million mark after grossing an estimated $7.38 million for the frame. Respective total grosses stand at $200.14 million for Star Trek Into Darkness in 25 days and at a much poorer than expected $102.37 million for The Hangover Part III through 18 days.
On the platform front, Roadside's Much Ado About Nothing was off to a solid start with an estimated $183,400. The Joss Whedon directed adaptation of the Shakespeare comedy earned a per-location average of $36,680 from five locations. Much Ado About Nothing is scheduled to receive a major expansion on June 21.
Other noteworthy performances for films in platform and limited release included $1.21 million for fellow Roadside release Mud (a per-location average of $2,078 from 582 locations), $0.890 million for Eros' Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (a per-location average of $5,530 from 161 locations), $0.589 million for IFC's Frances Ha (a per-location average of $2,531 from 233 locations), $0.585 million for Sony Pictures Classics' Before Midnight (a per-location average of $11,243 from 52 locations), $247,000 for Fox Searchlight's The East (a per-location average of $6,024 from 41 locations) and $220,000 for CBS Films' The Kings of Summer (a per-location average of $5,000 from 44 locations).
A full list of this weekend's official studio estimates can be found here.
Saturday Update: Universal reports that The Purge took in $16.7 million on Friday (including the $3.4 million from Thursday night shows). The low budget thriller is on pace to rake in close to $36 million for a first place debut weekend, exceeding even optimistic expectations borne from the film's strong social network activity going into Friday.
On its low budget, The Purge is already profitable--however, its Flixster user score is dropping rapidly (sitting at 59 percent currently). Universal's official weekend projection is $38.4 million, but we're remaining cautious on the film's internal multiplier given the apparent divisive word of mouth and history of genre front-loading.
The Internship grabbed $6.55 million yesterday, putting it on track for an $18.5 million weekend. The opening comes as somewhat of a disappointment following the heavy ad-placement of the Fox comedy, not to mention the past successes of stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.
Meanwhile, Now You See Me continues to exhibit its strength with another $6.05 million on its second Friday. The magician thriller should come close to $20 million for a strong second place finish in its sophomore weekend.
Friday Update #3: The latest Friday numbers indicate that The Purge could hit $32 million during its debut frame. If the horror flick surges late on Friday then $35 million could definitely be a reality.
The Internship is headed for a little more than $20 million.
Check back on Saturday morning for official studio figures.
Friday Update #2: Sources tell BoxOffice that The Purge could hit $30 million or more during its debut frame. Universal's horror flick looks poised for $12 million-$14 million on Friday based on early reports. If moviegoers opt for late shows of The Purge--a strong possibility given its genre--then the Friday number could end up being even stronger. This marks a huge win for Universal coming off the massive success of Fast & Furious 6. (Don't forget they also have Despicable Me 2 coming in July.) Moviegoers are clearly very hungry for films that don't fit into the typical action tentpole mold--see also The Great Gatsby and Now You See Me--and The Purge is filling that need. The Purge's Facebook page is adding fans at a rapid rate: more than 140,000 people have liked the page since that week. Compare that to the 64,000 or so that Man of Steel added during the same time and you get an idea of how strong The Purge's online following is becoming. If Universal plans on doing a sequel--an idea that's bound to get plenty of attention after this weekend--they will have plenty of built-in fans to market it directly to.
Early Friday numbers indicate that The Internship is headed for $7 million on Friday and an opening of around $18 million-$19 million. Stars Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn simply waited too long to join forces again after the success of 2005's Wedding Crashers, a $285 million global sensation that people quote religiously to this day. It'll be hard for the comedy to rebound from an underwhelming debut since Man of Steel and This Is The End will hog the spotlight next weekend.
Friday Update: Universal reports that The Purge earned $3.4 million at Thursday 10 p.m. late shows and Friday midnights from 1,751 theaters. That's far ahead of the $1.8 million that Evil Dead managed from 10 p.m./midnight shows earlier this year. Evil Dead opened to an impressive $25.8 million during its debut grame. Meanwhile, The Internship pulled in a modest $800K.
Fandango sent out a release this morning touting the The Purge's strong sales:
"The Purge" is Fandango's top-selling horror movie of the year so far, in terms of pre-sales (selling more advance tickets than the company previously sold for other 2013 horror hits like "Mama" or "Evil Dead").
"The Purge" represented 54% of sales on Thursday on the site and mobile apps.
"The Purge" definitely struck a nerve with moviegoers, with social media buzz that's been off the charts," says Fandango President Paul Yanover. "It has been our top-selling horror movie of the year so far, in terms of pre-sales."
According to an online survey of more than 1,000 "Purge" ticket-buyers on Fandango:
*94% said the film's unusual premise motivated them to buy a ticket;
* 56% are 18-24;
* 39% plan to take a date or significant other; 34% plan to go solo or with a friend; 27% plan to take a group of friends.
The movie is not just attracting horror buffs to the theater; 41% of survey respondents claim it's one of the few horror films they plan to see this year.
The first signs of trouble occurred moments before the kick-off at the Champions League final in London on May 25th. Will and Jaden Smith had included the venue as part of their promotional push for After Earth, gathering around a crowd of people for some convenient pre-game promotion. The on-lookers flashed their cameras as Will Smith prepared to take a penalty/photo-op against legendary Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar. Smith took a couple of steps back, ran to the ball in an awkward stride, and elicited laughter from the entire group as his kick weakly pattered sideways. At the time it seemed like the most embarrassing anecdote that would come from After Earth.
What a difference an opening weekend makes.
The post-apocalyptic father-son sci-fi adventure crash-landed at the North American box office last weekend, preceded by reviews that warned audiences about the film's eerie parallels with Scientology. It all quickly delved into a word-of-mouth nightmare, unmitigated by a lackluster B CinemaScore. The $27.5 million opening weekend placed After Earth in third, behind the second week of Fast & Furious 6 and the opening of Summit's badass magician caper, Now You See Me. Will Smith, who had opened every single of his summer movies at No. 1 for the last two decades, was beaten by a hold-over and an ensemble movie about magicians starring Jesse Eisenberg.
Sony was quick to deflect immediate criticism by singling out the film's global potential, referring to this weekend's worldwide expansion to over 60 territories. Smith's summer films have enjoyed great overseas numbers. His last three summer outings were hugely successful abroad, including a $445.8 million take for Men in Black 3, $396.4 million for Hancock, and $328.9 million for I am Legend. Smith knows how to play the global market, and the extensive international promotional tour for After Earth has had its share of bright moments away from the soccer field.
The star's global appeal is hard to ignore. I'll never forget his appearance in a late night talk show in Mexico, smiling through an interview conducted entirely in Spanish, his charisma making up for the fact he had no idea what was going on. I can't think of a single other African-American actor who has been so embraced and commercially successful in Mexico. Chalk it up to the syndicated re-runs of Fresh Prince of Bel Air that aired every weekday afternoon in syndication on network television for over a decade. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air gave Will Smith exposure on a daily basis, keeping him on-screen while his new films would reach theaters year after year. The television show was a massive television hit around the world, serving as a de facto promotional vehicle set on cruise control . As the years pass, however, the syndicated advantage that made Will Smith such a recognizable star no longer applies to younger viewers. This might also explain why Will Smith's dramas like Seven Pounds and The Pursuit of Happyness, a conflicting tone to his television persona, have a harder time finding overseas success.
Will Smith's trademark charisma is also absent from the After Earth trailers, where the actor spends the entire time scowling and lecturing at his son. The rest of the footage features Jaden Smith jumping around a post-apocalyptic Earth that more closely resembles an unkempt present-day nature resort in Costa Rica.
Sony made a valiant effort to obscure M. Night Shyamalan's direction in the marketing for After Earth, doing everything up to out-right hiding or denying that the troubled director had anything to do with the production. It is therefore curious how M. Night Shyamalan has become a comfortable target for the film's shortcomings while little has been said about Sony's peculiar marketing campaign.
On the other hand, Sony is merely working with what Shyamalan gave them, which according to nearly unanimously dismal reviews, is not a particularly good movie. L.A. Times critic Betsy Sharkey openly questioned where Shyamalan's career went wrong in her review of the film, wondering if the director's streak of box office duds and poorly received flicks is due to "body snatchers, ones from a planet that has no clue how to make a movie."
M. Night Shyamalan's career has suffered a precipitious decline since Newsweek infamously heralded the director as "The Next Spielberg" in a cover-story during the promotional run up to 2002's Signs. The domestic box office debacle for After Earth is widely being considered as the last nail in a coffin made out of bad films with terrible box office numbers.
I'm personally hesitant to join that chorus. We have a classic soccer maxim in Latin America that could also apply to Hollywood: El futbol siempre da revancha, "There's always the chance for revenge in soccer." Shyamalan is only one hit away from bouncing back and reigniting his career, though that probably won't come from a studio picture. Indiewire's Eric Kohn suggests the troubled director should take a cue from Joss Whedon, who followed his massively successful The Avengers with a micro-budget adaptation of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. By scaling back the financial stakes, Kohn suggests, Shyamalan might be able to return to the type of films that made him relevant:
"Prior to "The Happening," none of the director's movies relied on huge, effects-driven set pieces (even the train wreck that set the plot of "Unbreakable" in motion took place off-screen). Instead, his disturbed and perpetually spooked protagonists learned of the threats surrounding them by way of whispered revelations and bizarre rationalizations that were more stabs in the dark than anything else. The most compelling ingredients in Shyamalan's first four movies involved the absence of logic (ghosts, superpowers, God and an antiquated town inexplicably shrouded from civilization) in favor of inexplicable dread. It's that very same element that made them so deeply unsettling and keyed into real life experiences, where the full details of jarring events tend to be obscured by the limitations of how we comprehend them. Shyamalan now has the money and, if "After Earth" has strengthened the bars of the movie jail in which he was already partly incarcerated, probably the time to go back to these low key stories in search of the substance that made him a significant American director." [Read the rest of Eric Kohn's piece here].
Putting Shyamalan in the background as a "hired-gun" director was always a lose-lose proposition for Sony and the filmmaker. If the film succeeded, the director got none of the credit. If it failed, as it has in North America, the director takes most of the heat while Sony is ridiculed for letting Smith appoint him as director. Perhaps it was too much to ask Shyamalan to make a big-budget father-son vanity project into a good movie. Perhaps it's too much to ask Shyamalan to make a good movie -any type of movie- period. As the internet spews more and more vitriol on After Earth ahead of its overseas premiere, it is obvious that Shyamalan's biggest contribution to the film has been as a scapegoat rather than a director.
The film's global numbers might say more about the viability of sci-fi fare in the overseas market rather than Will Smith's box office clout. Tom Cruise delivered with Oblivion earlier this year despite not posting blockbuster numbers, and the scaled roll-out of Star Trek Into Darkness has demonstrated a marked improvement above its predecessor's overseas performance -despite falling behind other titles. There is always the chance that the overseas audience is showing sci-fi fatigue this summer, even if it's only June. After Earth opened head-to-head against Star Trek Into Darkness in South Korea last week, placing third in the weekend box office. Star Trek Into Darkness took the top spot, grossing nearly twice as much as the father-son adventure film. Oblivion has currently grossed $186.9 million overseas, compared to the current $147.7 million cume from Star Trek Into Darkness. Those numbers paint an uncomfortable reference point for After Earth as Sony executives focus on its overseas run.
If After Earth fails to make up ground at the global box office, Sony will likely have to adjust its expectations for Elysium, its second post-apocalyptic sci-fi tentpole of the summer. Sony's summer slate otherwise includes comedies This is the End and Grown Ups 2, another summer tentpole centered around Roland Emmerich destroying the White House (White House Down, featuring a role played by Jamie Foxx that could have easily gone to Will Smith five years ago), and The Smurfs 2. A disappointing After Earth theatrical run won't break the studio's summer, but will place an added weight on how well these other films perform.
This doesn't necessarily signal the end of Will Smith's reign at the box office, as many have (loudly) speculated. After Earth won't live up to Sony's initial expectations, but Smith's position is no different than any other major Hollywood star's when opening a tentpole that isn't part of an established franchise. Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp are only two examples of stars who have recently struggled with films outside of familiar franchises. Will Smith can recover from After Earth, but that wouldn't be the case if something like Men in Black 4, Bad Boys III, Hancock Rises, Hitch Returns, or I am (Still) Legend flopped. Until then, After Earth can only be considered as a misstep for Will Smith, a mistake for M. Night Shyamalan, and depending on this weekend's global numbers, a potential fiasco for Sony.
Following a scandalous third place opening weekend at the North American box office, Sony began looking overseas for potential signs of life in M. Night Shyamalan's troubled After Earth. Judging by South Korea, early results are looking dismal. After Earth opened day-and-date in South Korea and turned up with a similarly poor debut, reaching a paltry $2.5 million cume ($2.1M weekend) for third place. After Earth went head-to-head with the South Korea premiere of Star Trek Into Darkness and lost handedly, as the latest installment in the Star Trek franchise reached a $4.9 million cume ($3.7M weekend) in its first week. Fast & Furious 6 outgrossed After Earth over the weekend, posting a $2.2 million gross to see its total reach $9.5 million. After Earth will expand overseas throughout the month of June. Sony will be keeping a close eye on the film's fortunes -hoping the performance in South Korea and North America is, at best, an anomaly. At worst, we could be seeing the initial signs of the summer's first global fiasco at the box office.
Box Office Results for South Korea. May 31-June 2, 2013.
Fandango tells BoxOffice that Man of Steel is outpacing all other Summer 2013 releases at the same point in the release cycle. That could be VERY good news for the Warner Bros. release.
The superhero flick is today's top selling film on Fandango, putting it ahead of Friday's new releases: The Purge and The Internship.
BoxOffice is currently forecasting a $112 million opening for Man of Steel, but that could change by next week. Even $112 million would be a huge success for a series reboot. Fans tend to approach new versions of familiar stories with some caution. For instance, it's very import to remember that Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins opened to a modest $48.7 million in 2005. Of course, glowing word of mouth quickly spread and it helped launch the property to new heights.
The Hangover Part III edged out Fast & Furious 6 to top the box office in Spain last weekend. The two films combined to outgross the cumulative earnings of all other films in the top ten. The race between the comedy and the action caper shows more distance, however, when taking into account the films' per-screen averages. The Hangover Part III premiered with a $2.6 million weekend and $6,379 average across 397 screens. Fast & Furious 6 posted a strong $2.1 million weekend in its sophomore frame, reaching an $8.7 million cume. The latest Fast sequel edged out the comedy with 531 screens, but was only able to earn an average of $4,042 despite its wider release. Fast & Furious 6 has an outside shot at outgrossing Iron Man 3 in Spain; the superhero sequel has grossed $12.4 million after six weeks. If Fast & Furious 6 can keep its momentum, it could potentially become the biggest hit of the year at the Spanish box office.
Box Office Results for Spain. May 31 - June 2, 2013.