BOX OFFICE: ‘Conjuring’ Up a ‘Turbo’ Charged Weekend

The ConjuringAt this point in the summer the rush of blockbusters usually subsides, though The Wolverine is coming next weekend to give a slight bump of superhero action for those not exhausted at this point. It’s a bit ironic that our relief from epic displays of city destruction comes in the form of a horror flick by the man behind Insidious. Other than that, this weekend is an overstuffed placeholder. Neither Turbo, RED 2, or R.I.P.D. made much traction ahead of their releases, so amateurish returns are to be expected. Summer’s biggest features are fading fast, with Despicable Me 2 and The Heat showing the only signs of sustained life in the top 10.

Man of Steel is shaping up to land shy of $300 million, making it success enough for a recently announced sequel/Batman-crossover but not enough to inspire much enthusiasm or awe. While Monsters University has certainly done well for itself, it will have barely scraped up its $270 million budget by the time it closes up shop domestically. As for Pacific Rim and The Lone Ranger, any hopes of building a franchise out of either has been dashed by now, neither aiming to surpass $100 million. So what’s the bright side of this summer? Well, Fruitvale Station is still building its audience, collecting $742,272 at 34 locations. Weinstein Company’s slow roll-out should prosper well in the season’s dying weeks, while The Way, Way Back‘s $2.1 million weekend at 304 sites indicates audiences looking less lazy waterpark fun than they’re likely to receive from Grown Ups 2.

NOTE: No Box Office History segment this week, since past winners of the weekend like Harry Potter, Captain America, and The Dark Knight Rises don’t really give the proper comparison for this weekend.

Weekend Winners

The ConjuringThe Conjuring and Horror that Actually Delivers

Opening big is not the biggest hurdle a horror film like The Conjuring faces. As was the case with the Evil Dead remake and The Purge, not the mention every Paranormal Activity sequel, it’s maintaining interest that’s most crucial for any horror release. Its strong debut at $40 million shouldn’t be taken for granted, as it’s one of the rare horror films that’s benefited from a positive festival showing beforehand. James Wan’s period thriller received raves following screenings at Madrid, Los Angeles, and Edinburgh film festivals, and audiences are reacting more positively than usual, giving the film an A- Cinemascore, which is certainly a bump up from the The Purge‘s mediocre C.¬† We’ll have to wait until next weekend to see how strong the film holds up, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes the sleeper hit of summer’s last couple weeks.

Only God ForgivesPlatform Release of the Week: Only God Forgives

It’s really hard to tell what the standout indie release of the weekend is, since The Act of Killing opened to $28,067 at one venue and Blackfish pulled in $60,000 at 4 theaters. In comparison, Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest didn’t muster the same spectacular averages per venue, raking in $315,008 at 78 theaters. Add to that a currently unknown, but no doubt significant, Video On Demand audience, it was almost certainly a strong weekend for the divisive Refn-Gosling joint. Mind you, I wouldn’t expect¬†Only God Forgives to maintain audiences throughout the summer. As is the way of cult hits, they vanish quickly from theaters before an outspoken pack of followers herald it later on down the line.

Weekend Losers

R.I.P.D.Rest in Peace, R.I.P.D.

This weekend was filled with films that failed to ignite, but none more so than this Men in Black wannabe, replacing Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones for Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges, respectively… I think? I can’t imagine this would come as a surprise, but I just don’t think audiences like Ryan Reynolds that much. Right when his career needed to be getting on a right foot, he turned in Green Lantern and The Change-Up, which kind of tainted his big screen reputation. It also doesn’t help that this film looks industrially hideous and obnoxious from the trailers. That, and Mary-Louise Parker fans have another film vying for their focus (see RED 2). Embittering the film’s sad $12.7 million weekend is the budget label of $130 million, which sets this up as the summer’s biggest failure on a grand scale.

TurboTurbo lacks magnetic charge

But hey, let’s not forget Ryan Reynolds’ other big flop of the weekend, be it this one from an animated outfit. It doesn’t need saying that Dreamworks probably expected more out of this snail-race adventure, though it’s still difficult to tell why. It’s hard to muster much enthusiasm over snails as protagonists, and racecar driving hasn’t often sold with audiences. Combining the two makes a film that honestly looks harmless, but that I couldn’t muster up any interest in seeing, and I’m a strong Dreamworks apologist. The problem is they need to focus their efforts less on gimmicks and more on storytelling. Like Rise of the Guardians, Turbo is absolute gimmickry, and both opened just barely north of $20 million. That makes Turbo the company’s worst opening since Flushed Away. All that, and they’ve already rushed into a Netflix series based on the film. Dreamworks most definitely needs to halt their horses and come up with a new strategy.

Red 2Red 2 ought to be retired

Red was a sustained hit back in October of 2010, mostly on the star power of those involved, mainly Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, and Helen Mirren. For the life of me, I can’t recall what that film was about, and I had no interest in getting to know this installment. By all appearances, Red 2 was just unnecessary, and though the box office isn’t an absolute failure, let’s ponder that. Red took in $90 million domestically, covering its budget of $60 million. Red 2 cost $84 million and is tracking towards just less than $60 million. Not the kind of reversal you hope for out of a sequel. It’s also ironic to note that Red director Robert Schwentke opted out of returning to direct… hey, R.I.P.D.! Well, I guess nothing worked out for anybody involved this weekend, aside from James Wan, of course.

Box Office Top 10 – July 19-21, 2013

Results via BoxOffice.com

1. The Conjuring (1st Weekend; $41.5 million)
2. Despicable Me 2 (3rd Weekend: $25 million; Total: $276.2 million)
3. Turbo (1st Weekend: $21.5 million; Total: $31.2 million)
4. Grown Ups 2 (2nd Weekend: $20 million; Total: $79.5 million)
5. Red 2 (1st Weekend: $18.5 million)
6. Pacific Rim (2nd Weekend: $16 million; Total: $68.2 million)
7. R.I.P.D. (1st Weekend; $12.8 million)
8. The Heat (4th Weekend: $9.3 million)
9. Monsters University (5th Weekend: $5 million; Total: $249 million)
10. The Lone Ranger (3rd Weekend: $4.3 million; Total: $81.2 million)

What did you see in theaters this weekend? Comment below!

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