What a difference a week makes. Before audiences actually got a look at Pixels (Sony’s one shot at a big summer blockbuster) an opening of $50 million seemed possible. Not anymore. Projections have been on a downward sllide ever since Pixels hit theatres on Thursday. Sony is now going with a weekend estimate of $25 million for the action comedy. Other predictions are as low as $23 million.
Wherever Pixels ultimately lands, it looks like the film will not restore Adam Sandler’s box office credibility. Pixels earned an estimated $9.2 million from 3,723 on its first day in theatres. That’s lower than the $9.8 million that Sandler’s Jack & Jill took in on its opening day back in 2011 – though more than twice what That’s My Boy earned the following summer. Both films can be cited as financial low points for the Sandler brand, with Grown Ups and Grown Ups 2 providing encouraging counter-narratives. Despite terrible reviews (Grown Ups 2 is rated 7% on Rotten Tomatoes), both ensemble comedies turned a profit for Sony.
With Kevin James, Josh Gad and Peter Dinklage supporting Sandler, Sony was clearly hoping Pixels would perform like Grown Ups at the box office. In terms of audience reaction, the film seems to be on solid footing: CinemaScore audiences gave Pixels the same ‘B’ awarded both Grown Ups pics. And from a critical standpoint (never Sandler’s strength), Pixels is crushing Grown Ups 2 with a 19% Rotten Tomato rating. And yet, Pixels still feels like a disappointment. With Ant-Man also trending between $23 and $25 million for its sophomore frame, a second place Pixels finish is a real possibility.
Paper Towns and Southpaw – each targeting a very different demographic – were also new to theatres this weekend. A teen drama from The Fault in Our Stars author John Green, Paper Towns took in an estimated $6.3 million on Friday towards a possible $14 million debut weekend. Southpaw opened in fifth place with a better-than-expected $6.2 million. That should result in at least $16 million this weekend for the R-rated boxing drama.
We’ll have complete details on the weekend box office tomorrow. Until then, here’s Friday’s top five, based on studio estimates: