Weekend Box Office (June 7 - 9, 2013)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND For the second week in a row, North American audiences came out in better-than-expected numbers for an original film with no built-in audience as the micro-budgeted thriller The Purge debuted at number one with a sensational opening for a small movie without A-list stars. Grossing half as much was the star-driven comedy The Internship from former box office heavyweights Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson which settled for a fourth place debut. The top five contained only one sequel - amazing for a summer weekend - with moviegoers spreading their dollars around as seven films grossed over $10M each this frame.

Universal replaced itself at number one with the release of the Ethan Hawke thriller The Purge which soared to a $34.1M opening weekend, according to final studio figures, grossing more than ten times its production budget in its first frame. Produced for just $3M and backed by a marketing campaign costing a fraction of those of other summer films, the R-rated story tells of a time in the near future when American society has nearly eradicated all crime, but allows one day a year when anything goes with no criminal consequences.

The what-if scenario delivered the third biggest opening of the year for an R-rated film trailing only the $41.7M of The Hangover Part III - a sequel launching over a holiday weekend - and the $34.6M of comedy hit Identity Thief ($34.6M). It put an end to the five-week streak of nothing but big-budget PG-13 action sequels which have held the number one spot, dominating since the summer box office began.

But Purge's success was more a result of fantastic marketing than quality filmmaking. The studio's slick trailer, aggressive promotional push, and social media hype registered with young adults who drove opening day sales to a stellar $16.8M including $3.4M from Thursday night shows. This was a fantastic performance for a low-budget film with no built-in audience, no huge stars, and no brand entering a very competitive marketplace filled with so many popular choices.

But sales collapsed in the second day of release as Saturday tumbled a disturbing 38% to $10.5M - still an impressive gross. Universal saw a 35% decline on Sunday to $6.8M. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a dismal C grade indicating a lack of customer satisfaction. Earning mixed reviews, Purge did average a spectacular $13,430 per theater from 2,536 locations and played best to young women. Studio research showed that 56% of the audience was female and 56% was under 25. Also, one-third of the business ($11M+) came from Latino audiences, often a reliable crowd for scary movies. Even with large declines ahead, The Purge will end up being one of the most profitable films of 2013.

Dropping to second place after two weeks at the top was the action sequel Fast & Furious 6 with $19.6M. Universal's franchise hit dropped only 44% and broke the double century mark in the process with a cume to date of $202.8M after 17 days. It's running 20% ahead of Fast Five from 2011 and still targeting a domestic finish near the quarter-billion mark. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has now been in the top ten for 16 consecutive weeks with his four recent films.

Overseas sales were still red hot with another $43.2M this weekend, including a scorching $10.7M debut in Australia, boosting the international take to $380.6M and the worldwide haul to $583M. Look for Furious 6 to break franchise records for domestic, international, and global grosses by next weekend on its way to a final worldwide haul north of $800M after July releases in China and Japan are factored in. Part 7 is still slated for release next summer on July 11.

Last weekend's surprise hit Now You See Me held up very well in its sophomore frame sliding just 35% to $19M for a ten-day cume of $60.9M. The Lionsgate release is now on course to reach $100M or more domestically making for another original film with no built-in audience, along with Purge, that is attracting large crowds against the mega-budgeted tentpoles of summer.

Opening in fourth place with only moderate results was the Vince Vaughn-Owen Wilson comedy The Internship with $17.3M from 3,366 theaters for a lukewarm $5,147 average. It was the latest in a recent string of mainstream comedy releases from each actor that failed to draw big crowds like their earlier hits had. Vaughn's The Watch and The Dilemma bowed to $12.8M and $17.8M, respectively while Wilson's Hall Pass debuted to $13.5M last year. Before those, they anchored a handful of pics with $20M+ and even $30M+ opening weekends.

Panned by critics, Internship opened with nearly half the grosses of Wedding Crashers, the sleeper hit from the summer of 2005 which starred both actors. Factor in eight years of ticket price increases and the actual audience size on opening weekend was about 60% smaller. Bad reviews repelled audiences and seeing Vaughn and Wilson play the same characters yet again year after year also turned many off. The Fox release about two middle-aged men who compete with college-age whiz kids for jobs at Google played evenly between men and women and skewed older with 61% of the crowd being over 25. The CinemaScore was a decent B+ but competition will be fierce with the well-reviewed comedy This Is the End hitting theaters on Tuesday night at 7:00pm ready to take away business from young adults looking for outrageous laughs.

Posting the smallest decline in the top ten was the animated film Epic which eased 29% to $11.9M for a total to date of $83.9M. The Fox film will face competition for older kids next weekend with the PG-13 epic Man of Steel but will still have a grip on younger children until June 21's launch of Pixar's Monsters University. Worldwide for Epic rose to $191M.

Star Trek Into Darkness ranked sixth with $11.4M, off only 32%, putting it just shy of the double century club at $199.9M from North America. The Paramount hit collected an estimated $17.6M from international markets led by China and boosted the overseas cume to $176.4M and the worldwide tally to $358M.

The sci-fi flop After Earth tumbled 61% in its second weekend to $10.7M giving Sony only $46.1M after ten days. A domestic final in the neighborhood of $65M should result which would be half of the Will Smith film's $130M production cost. But the international roll-out saw better results with an estimated $45.5M from 60 territories this weekend. Global cume is now $95M and the road ahead will be competitive with rival action tentpoles Man of Steel and World War Z rolling out across most of the world throughout the rest of June.

Though lagging behind its two predecessors, The Hangover Part III did manage to crack the century mark this weekend with $7.3M for a total of $102.3M. But the gross was down a troubling 55% in its third round and is now running 53% behind the pace of part 2 from two years ago which had a massive $215.7M at the same point in its run. The global gross now sits at $273M.

Super hero smash Iron Man 3 followed with $5.8M, down only 32%, for a $394.3M cume to date for Disney. The overseas gross surpassed the $800M mark this weekend as Tony Stark soared to $802.3M international for a global gross just shy of $1.2 billion. Rounding out the top ten was Leonardo DiCaprio's 1920s-era hit The Great Gatsby with $4.2M, down 35%, for a domestic total of $136.2M and $278.8M worldwide.

While Ethan Hawke ruled the overall box office, he was also on top of the specialty marketplace too. His expanding indie hit Before Midnight was the top-grossing limited release film with $526,419 from 52 locations for a solid $10,123 average. With $1.5M, the Sony Classics title will go nationwide on Friday hoping to be an indie alternative to the next wave of summer tentpoles.

Opening to solid results in platform release was Joss Whedon's small black-and-white Shakespeare comedy Much Ado About Nothing which took in $171,941 from just five locations in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco for a superb $34,388 average. Earning good reviews, the Roadside Attractions release will go national on June 21.

The top ten films grossed $141.4M which was down 18% from last year when Madagascar 3 opened at number one with $60.3M; but up 8% from 2011 when Super 8 debuted in the top spot with $35.5M.

Compared to projections, The Purge nearly doubled my $19M forecast while The Internship opened on target with my $17M prediction.

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Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Man of Steel and This is the End both open.

# Title Jun 7 - 9 May 31 - Jun 2 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 The Purge $ 34,058,360 2,536 1 $ 13,430 $ 34,058,360 Universal
2 Fast & Furious 6 19,626,885 35,164,440 -44.2 3,771 3 5,205 202,812,580 Universal
3 Now You See Me 19,040,890 29,254,674 -34.9 3,020 2 6,305 60,914,914 Lionsgate
4 The Internship 17,325,307 3,366 1 5,147 17,325,307 Fox
5 Epic 11,876,003 16,616,310 -28.5 3,594 3 3,304 83,930,559 Fox
6 Star Trek Into Darkness 11,425,755 16,780,895 -31.9 3,152 4 3,625 199,866,194 Paramount
7 After Earth 10,712,240 27,520,040 -61.1 3,401 2 3,150 46,103,809 Sony
8 The Hangover Part III 7,343,414 16,385,254 -55.2 3,242 3 2,265 102,337,370 Warner Bros.
9 Iron Man 3 5,753,661 8,442,451 -31.8 2,351 6 2,447 394,283,326 Disney
10 The Great Gatsby 4,222,409 6,517,317 -35.2 2,160 5 1,955 136,167,527 Warner Bros.
11 Mud 1,147,633 1,209,355 -5.1 580 7 1,979 18,538,320 Roadside Attr.
12 Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani 803,206 1,568,677 -48.8 161 2 4,989 2,855,631 Eros
13 The Croods 724,969 665,624 8.9 414 12 1,751 181,649,007 Fox
14 Frances Ha 545,715 530,493 2.9 233 4 2,342 2,333,281 IFC
15 Before Midnight 526,419 404,311 30.2 52 3 10,123 1,460,103 Sony Classics
16 Oz the Great and Powerful 374,964 419,116 -10.5 322 14 1,164 233,671,832 Disney
17 42 364,175 512,231 -28.9 370 9 984 92,924,954 Warner Bros.
18 Oblivion 247,475 394,705 -37.3 298 8 830 88,473,925 Universal
19 The East 228,561 77,031 196.7 41 2 5,575 336,002 Fox Searchlight
20 The Kings of Summer 212,873 58,962 261.0 44 2 4,838 294,481 CBS
Top 5 $ 101,927,445 $ 125,336,359 -18.7
Top 10 141,384,924 159,459,413 -11.3
Top 20 146,560,914 163,217,046 -10.2
Top 20 vs. 2012 146,560,914 178,524,191 -17.9

Last Updated: June 10, 2013 at 5:15PM ET

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