1. Elysium - $30.4M - $30.4M
2. We're The Millers - $26.5M - $38M
3. Planes - $22.2M - $22.2M
4. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters - $14.6M - $23.4M
5. 2 Guns - $11.1M - $48.5M
6. The Smurfs 2 - $9.5M - $46.6M
7. The Wolverine - $8M - $111.9M
8. The Conjuring - $6.7M -$120.7M
9. Despicable Me 2 - $5.7M - $338.3M
10. Grown Ups 2 - $3.7M - $123.8M
A busy weekend with four major releases all vying for the public's attention. Percy Jackson and We're The Millers aimed to get a jump on Planes and Elysium by opening on Wednesday, but would that early start also knock the wind out of their sails come Friday? Last weekend 2 Guns and The Wolverine did solid, if unspectacular business, and they'd both have to take on Elysium this frame. Next weekend is equally as busy, with Paranoia taking on Kick Ass 2, The Butler and Jobs.
Neill Blomkamp blasted onto the silver screen with his low budget science fiction movie, District 9 back in 2009. An intelligent, violent flick, with barely veiled political undertones, it won much critical acclaim for its gritty take on the genre. Blomkamp's incredible effects and animatronics belied its $30M production budget. The idea for District 9 came from the director's short film, Alive in Joburg, which he made in 2006 and drew much attention. Microsoft signed him on board to direct a series of short films to publicise the release of Halo 3, with a view to having him helm a feature length Halo movie. Peter Jackson, having been a fan of Blomkamp's short films (both within and away from the Halo universe) signed on to produce but despite their best efforts, were unable to get Halo off the ground. After its collapse, Jackson stayed with Blomkamp and offered to produce an expanded version of Alive in Joburg which would become District 9. Released four years ago, the movie would go on to become a global smash hit, raking in over $210M. It put Blomkamp firmly on the map, yet he would go on to turn down a number of high profile projects and opt instead to direct an original piece. First word on this new picture began to emerge in October 2009, and just over 14 month later the director and his initial backers met with a number of major studios to unveil their plan on what would become known as Elysium. Having worked with Blomkamp on District 9, Sony were quick to outbid all competitors to gain rights to the film, putting up a budget of $90M. Production was set to begin in July of that year, and it was announced that Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and District 9 alumni, Sharlto Copley would all play major roles (Copley had actually been announced prior to funding falling into place). Apart from a few shots of Damon in some kind of metal exo-skeleton, little was seen or heard of the production. It would not be until June 2012 that the official synopsis was unveiled. It would see a world racked by war and poverty, with those rich enough able to escape to paradise - a huge space station orbiting the earth known as Elysium. Damon plays Max DeCosta, a factory worker who ends up with only five days to live after an industrial accident. With little hope of survival, a deadly plan is put into place, which if successful, would lead DeCosta to Elysium and a cure.
With shooting complete, the long post-production schedule could get underway. Sony had originally set a vague 'end of 2012' release date in place, which was later pushed back to March 2013. However, when an early August 2013 slot opened up thanks to the delay of the Robocop remake, Elysium was moved into its place. The first actual footage played at Comic-Con 2012 but an official trailer would not appear online until April of the next year. Revealing only a few choice sequence, many were impressed with Sony's restraint. Sadly it was not to last, and the studio soon went to the other extreme, releasing a trailer almost three minutes and twenty seconds in length. Early screenings were very positive, but after a few disappointing reviews, Elysium ended up with a 66% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. A number of critics felt that while the film was good, it suffered when compared to District 9. Opening at the tail end of blockbuster season, Elysium would face no direct competition, but would have to contend with both 2 Guns and The Wolverine, not to mention three other major release, which while not aimed at the same market, would impact the film's performance none the less. Things certainly began well enough, with Elysium comfortably taking the top spot on Friday with $11.2M. That's a solid figure, but a little off what District 9 opened to in 2009 ($14M) - and of course, that was on a much smaller budget. It managed to hold steady over Saturday and into Sunday, finishing up with a slightly underwhelming $30.4M for the weekend. That's a more substantial gap between what D9 made overall, and does leave Elysium with some work going forward. Blomkamp's choice to not shoot in 3D may have cost the film a few million, but not really enough to make that much difference (though it may be more of a factor overseas where 3D is still something of a draw). This was an R-rated science fiction movie, and while Damon is a major star, outside of the Bourne franchise (and ensemble pictures) he has struggled a little. Elysium needs to look for a decent second frame drop now if it wants to be heading north of $75M.
The other R-rated release this weekend is the comedy, We're The Millers, starring Jason Sudekis and Jennifer Aniston. The story sees small time drug dealer David Clark (Sudekis) charged by a rich businessman to pick up a shipment of Marijuana and bring it back from Mexico. Figuring that he might arouse suspicion on his own, Clark decides to create a fake family - The Millers. To this end he hires stripper Sarah (Aniston) along with runway Casey (played by Emma Roberts) and teenage virgin Kenny (Will Pouter) to play his wife and children. What Clark doesn't know is that the drugs he's bringing back have already been stolen....We're The Millers began life as a vehicle for Steve Buscemi back in 2006 but no real progress was made and it quickly faded. Nothing was heard of the project until April of last year when the picture and its two leads were announced. Directing Sudekis and Co. would be Rawson Marshall Thurber, who saw success with the 2004 hit, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. Since that time Thurber has attempted to get a Magnum P.I feature off the ground and also directed an adaptation of Michael Chabon's The Mysteries of Pittsburgh.
An R-rated trailer for We're The Millers was released earlier in the summer and with The Heat all but done at this point, there was a chance for the film to find a market. On Wednesday, its first day out of the gate, the flick did an impressive $6.7M, following it up with a $4.7M Thursday haul. Things moved up a notch on Friday with the new competition, and while it couldn't hold off Elysium, We're The Millers managed to keep Planes at bay, taking in another $8.5M. That put the film on a strong $19.9M before the main portion of the weekend kicked off. Another $18.1M came over the remainder of the frame, giving We're The Millers a three day total of $26.5M, and $38M since release. Given the picture only cost $37M to produce, WB look set to make a tidy profit when all is said and done. If it holds well next weekend, We're The Millers could end up being a late summer sleeper.
The family offering this weekend is Planes, a Disney (not Pixar) produced spin-off from Cars. Based on a concept by John Lasseter (who acts as executive producer), the film actually began life as a straight to DVD effort in North America, with a theatrical release planned for Europe and elsewhere. However, Disney were impressed enough with the initial footage to push for a domestic cinematic showing. Planes is the story of Dusty Crophopper, a crop dusting plane who has dreams of becoming an air racer. The only problems being that he's afraid of heights and simply isn't built to be a racing plane. But with help from seasoned flyer Skipper Riley, he gets set to put his training and his courage to the test by taking on defending race champion Ripslinger. While Jon Cryer was originally announced as the voice of Dusty, he would eventually exit the picture, to be replaced by Dane Cook. The rest of the cast included such names as John Cleese, Teri Hatcher, Stacy Keach (As Skipper), Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards. Despite the film's lineage and Pixaresque visuals, Planes appeared to share little of the Toy Story studio's flare for story telling.
Critics savaged the film, and while that is generally of little significance to a family feature, there was also competition from The Smurfs 2, Despicable Me 2 and Turbo, whose plot shares a lot in common with Planes. The other very real worry, especially with the rising cost of ticket prices, was the fact that this had been a very family-film heavy summer - not only with the aforementioned animated features but also Monster University, Epic and The Croods. And Planes would be released at the end of it all. On its first day out of the gate, the picture made $8.1M, only good enough for a third place showing and meant we'd be seeing Turbo-style numbers - if Planes was lucky. Things didn't even pick up with Saturday and Sunday matinee performances and left the Disney flick with a disappointing weekend total of $22.2M. In comparison, Turbo made $21M in its Fri-Sun period (but had opened midweek) while Epic scored $33M, albeit in a much quieter market place. The good news is that Planes only cost $50M to produce, so even with a half decent performance domestically, it'll still be fine. In fact, Disney are already hard at work on a sequel, due around this time next year.
Before becoming a movie, Percy Jackson & The Olympians had been a very successful series of books (there are five in the original set). Hoping to have their very own Harry Potter series, Fox bought the film rights back in 2004, and set Philosopher's Stone director Chris Columbus to work on the adaptation. The first picture of the proposed franchise was Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief, released in 2010. Despite a solid enough opening weekend of $31M, the flick struggled in subsequent weeks, ending its North American run with $88M - against a budget of $90M. It had a stronger showing overseas, but not impressive enough to spawn any further sequels, it was assumed. For example, the 2007 release, The Golden Compass, made $77M domestically, and $302M abroad, but no sequel was ever greenlit despite this. So it came as something of a surprise when rumours of a second Percy Jackson movie began to emerge in March 2011. By October of that year Fox was ready to announce that Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters would began filming shortly for a March 2013 release. Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson and Alexandra Daddario would all return, as would Sean Bean as Zeus (in an apparently uncredited cameo). However, Pierce Brosnan, who portrayed Chiron in the first movie, would be replaced by Anthony Head in the sequel. At the helm would be Thor Freudenthal, who worked as a conceptual artist before taking on Hotel For Dogs and the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie. Shooting on Percy Jackon: Sea of Monsters began in April 2012, with the final shot falling early 2013. In the midst of the shoot, in a move similar to what befell Elysium, Fox announced that the picture would be pushed back to August 2013.
Given the $90M budget attached to Sea of Monsters, the publicity has been fairly low key and has again led many to question just why Fox moved forward with a sequel - the studio perhaps hoping now Harry Potter movies were firmly out of the frame, there was a gap in the market they hoped to fill. The first footage debuted in front of the March failure, The Host, with a second trailer hitting screen in May. The studio knew they'd need more than fans of the book to show up if Percy Jackson was going to have legs much beyond that first day. The poor reviews certainly didn't help the situation, and while its initial $5.4M Wednesday take wasn't too bad, it had to settle for a fourth place showing on Friday, making only $4.9M in the process. Obviously, opening earlier in the week took any wind out of the film's sails but that said, the original picture only made $9.6M on its opening day (which was a Friday). Sea of Monsters added another $9.7M over the rest of the weekend, finishing up with a weak three day total of $14.6 ($23.4M since release). In its first weekend, the original picture made $31M, so the fact that the sequel hasn't cleared that figure in five days is telling. With seven releases due in the next fortnight (including almost direct competition from The Mortal Instruments), Sea of Monsters might not get the chance to make much more of an impact. It'll now need to lean heavily on the overseas market if it is to come close to recouping those $90M costs.
Last weekend's number one picture, 2 Guns fell a sharp 65% against its opening day, making $3.4M on its second Friday, thanks in part to Elysium. With four news films in the market place, 2 Guns suddenly found itself half way down the chart. For the weekend as a whole, the Washington-Wahlberg action comedy made $11.2M, to bring its ten day total to $48.5M. What that means is while it'll recoup its $61M production budget, the film is unlikely to see much more (again, especially with the glut of releases due in the coming fortnight). 2 Guns might have worked better in a quieter release window, perhaps January, but for now it looks to be heading for a $65-70M finish in North America.
Smurfs 2 didn't get off to quite as strong a start as its predecessor did, but this was never about its domestic performance. Sony knew the big money would be coming from overseas. This frame the blue sequel made $3.1M on Friday, on its way toward a $9.5M weekend figure. That gives it a running total of $46.6M. At this point in its release, The Smurfs was sitting on $82.5M - so there's quite a substantial gap in takings. Obviously Planes didn't help this weekend but many already saw this sequel as largely redundant. A $60-65M finish is on the card, with at least four times as much expected overseas (it's at $110M at the time of writing). Sony are certainly confident in the character's ability, they are already working on an Smurfs' origin movie, due in 2015.
The Wolverine hit $100M on day 12 of its release, but it is all but done in North America even at this early stage (it shed 1,000 screens this weekend). It made $8M this frame to bring its total so far to $111.9M. As mentioned previously, it will recoup its $120M costs but see little more domestically - meaning it will be the lowest grossing X-Men film so far. Overseas things are much rosier to the tune of $194M, giving The Wolverine a global total of over $305M
Scare-flick The Conjuring, now in its fourth weekend, made another $6.7M (a fall of 49% on last frame). That brings its cumulative gross to an astonishing $120.7M - five times more than the picture cost to produce. It might see one more frame in the top ten but even if it doesn't, this is such a major win for WB, and has almost certainly given them a nice low-budget franchise.
The second biggest release of the year, Despicable Me 2 scored $5.7M this weekend, to bring its total to a spectacular $338.3M. It's also got over $385M abroad and is still not finished yet. Expect a third Despicable Me film by 2015/16, with a Minions spin-off in the interim.
Rounding us out this weekend is Grown Ups 2. Made for $80M, the Adam Sandler ensemble will fall some way short of its predecessor but could still end up being the actor's sixth most successful movie to date. Its North America gross now stands at $123.8M
Just outside the top ten is Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine, which expanded this weekend (into 116 theatres) and was rewarded with a $2.5M haul. That brings its overall total to $6.2M
Finally, while Pacific Rim lost its Imax screens this weekend, it edged closer to $100M. But again, it is overseas where the picture is making the real headlines as it approaches $250M.
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