Moviegoers Binge on The Purge Resulting in $36.3 Million Opening

Moviegoers Binge on The Purge Resulting in $36.3 Million OpeningUniversal’s micro-budgeted thriller The Purge had a surprisingly big opening at the North American box office this weekend. The $3 million production easily left fellow debut The Internship in the dust while unseating Fast and Furious 6 from its two-week perch at the number one spot. Despite the strong bow of The Purge, the top ten cooled off roughly 15% from last year at this time when Madagascar 3 and Prometheus both opened north of $50 million each.

The reviews were nothing to write home about (41% approval on Rotten Tomatoes and a 43/100 Metacritic score) but audiences were curious about The Purge following a marketing campaign that was both extensive, and based on the $36.3 million earned from 2,536 theaters, effective. The film stars Ethan Hawke and Game of Thrones‘ Lena Headey and was directed by James DeMonaco (the 2005 remake of Assault On Precinct 13), and produced by Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes production company.

In addition to the strong opening of The Purge Universal had additional good news in the form of the third weekend’s haul for its blockbuster sequel Fast and Furious Six. The smash hit eased a moderate 44% in its third lap on 3,771 screens to earn a solid $19.7 million. To date, the Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson action flick has earned a great $202 million and is still cruising toward the $230-240 million domestic mark. Overseas, the movie has collected a big $381 million to bring its global total to the $584 million mark.

In third place this weekend was the Lionsgate/Summit Pictures sleeper Now You See Me. After a stronger-than-expected opening a week ago, the magician heist flick was the recipient of strong word-of-mouth from ticket buyers this weekend. The movie eased a mere 33% in its sophomore round on 3,020 screens to earn an estimated $19.5 million. To date, the $75 million production has earned a great $61.3 million and depending on how strong the movie’s legs are, it could manage to make its way to the $100 million mark by the end of its domestic run.

Despite a national sneak preview last weekend, Fox had little luck in drawing in viewers to The Internship this weekend as evidenced by its mild $18 million opening on 3,366 screens. The Shawn Levy-directed comedy reunited Wedding Crashers stars Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn (working from a screenplay Vaughn co-wrote) for more comedic hijinks, but it may have been too little, too late (after all, Wedding Crashers was eight years ago). Critics didn’t care much for it (33% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 43/100 Metacritic score) and the weak trailers and TV spots made the $58 million production come off as nothing more than a feature-length ad for Google. I think the latter caused more damage than any harsh review could.

Rounding out the top five with the smallest drop of any film in the top ten was Fox’s 3D animated feature Epic. Shaping up to be the only game in town for family audiences until Monsters University arrives in a couple of weeks, Epic eased a mere 27% to earn a good $12.1 million on 3,594 screens in its third weekend. To date, the $100 million production has earned a good $84.1 million and is still looking to finish domestically with about $110 million. The film has pulled in an additional $105 million in foreign sales thus far.

Rounding out the top ten were the following:

6. Star Trek Into Darkness (Paramount) $11.7 million (-30%); $200.1 million

7. After Earth (Sony) $11.2 million (-59%); $46.5 million

8. The Hangover Part III (Warner Brothers) $7.3 million (-55%); $102.3 million

9. Iron Man 3 (Disney/Marvel) $5.7 million (-31%); $394.3 million

10. The Great Gatsby (Warner Brothers) $4.2 million (-35%); $136.1 million

Warner Brothers debuts the long-awaited Superman reboot Man of Steel next weekend, which should have no problem taking the top spot from The Purge. Sony Pictures will expand the Richard Linklater film Before Midnight (which is the best film I have seen this year hands down) to 600 screens, while the new Sofia Coppola drama The Bling Ring arrives in limited release.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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