Between the record-breaking grosses of May and next week’s Man of Steel launch, this was supposed to be a quiet weekend at the box office. Universal’s The Purge had other plans. The low-budget horror film took first place and more than doubled its pre-release projections with an estimated $36.4 million from 2,536 locations. The box office bonanza did not extend to The Internship, however. The comedy opened in fourth with an estimated $18.1 million – half of what The Purge realized in 800 fewer theatres.
|2.||Fast & Furious 6||$19,800,000||$202.9|
|3.||Now You See Me||$19,500,000||$61.3|
|6.||Star Trek Into Darkness||$11,700,000||$200.1|
|8.||The Hangover III||$7,380,000||$102.3|
|9.||Iron Man 3||$5,787,000||$394.3|
|10.||The Great Gatsby||$4,230,000||$136.1|
When box office writers sat down to make their ‘Summer Preview’ lists back in April, The Purge did not even merit mention. An original horror film scheduled for early summer had the whiff of ‘counter-programming’ about it – especially considering the bevy of star-powered releases that surrounded it. It wasn’t until last week that The Purge started to gain momentum thanks, in part, to its savvy online marketing campaign. And after estimates for the film’s Thursday pm & midnight screenings came in at $3.4 million (just over what Star Trek Into Darkness earned from its previews), it was clear that the counter-programmer was on track for a blockbuster debut.
If $36 million does not seem sufficient to warrant ‘summer blockbuster’ status, let me remind you that box office success is a relative thing. A major release like Star Trek Into Darkness looked disappointing with twice the opening of The Purge while Now You See Me was hailed a hit with just $29.3 million. The Purge may not have the cache of this summer’s big titles, but there is no arguing with success: $36.4 million ranks as the highest horror debut of 2013 and the second-highest R-rated opening, behind The Hangover Part III.
What really sets The Purge apart in terms of summer releases, however, is its budget. Produced by Jason Blum (of Paranormal Activity fame), The Purge cost just $3 million. That means that it’s already crazy-profitable, which is a good thing – horror movies are notoriously front-loaded and, with Man of Steel on deck for next Friday, Universal’s victory lap should prove shorter than usual.
There will be no victory lap for The Internship, unfortunately. The Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson comedy opened in 3,365 locations and earned an estimated $18.1 million. That’s slightly higher than box office projections put the film earlier this week but, considering today’s big win for The Purge, The Internship will end the weekend as a disappointment.
Another comedy disappointment hit a milestone this weekend – The Hangover Part III crossed the $100 million mark after 17 days in theatres. Of course, The Hangover Part II was well over $200 million at the same point so the honor is somewhat dubious.
For other holdovers, the news was much better. Star Trek Into Darkness will pass $200 million in domestic grosses on Sunday and should equal its 2009 predecessor’s $385 million worldwide gross in the next week. Fast & Furious 6 also crossed $200 million this weekend, which means that it will almost certainly top the $209.8 million final US tally of Fast Five.
Now You See Me did not cross any big milestones this weekend but, with its excellent hold of 66%, it did manage to make After Earth (-59.3%) look even worse than last weekend, when both films debuted. The overall box office was down from this week in 2012, when both Madagascar 3 and Prometheus brought in over $50 million. Luckily, next weekend promises a certain win with Man of Steel. Projections put the film’s opening weekend prospects at $115 million – which would set a new record for a June release, if realized. Think Superman can fly higher?