There’s always at least one weekend when the more thrilling summer material is sidelined so the smaller films can have their day. It’s fortunate for films like The Purge and The Internship, which likely would have flopped hard if put up against something like Man of Steel or Monsters University. With only each other to worry about, one was able to pull a modest opening while the other really took advantage of the lack of alternative options.
First let’s take stock of notable milestones and independent releases. The Hangover: Part III scaled its way to $100 million, a feat the second film achieved in four days and the first achieved in ten. Part III clearly has neither the staying power of the first or the massive frontload of the second. Both Star Trek Into Darkness and Fast & Furious 6 made it past the $200 million mark, though it took the former a week longer to reach that point. Is auto action really more exciting than space adventure? (The answer is yes, funny enough)
Before Midnight continued en route to an excellent summer with $584,648 at just 52 venues. Currently at $1.5 million, it’ll easily become the highest grossing film of the Linklater-Delpy-Hawke trilogy, and quite likely his biggest indie release to date. Mud added another $1.2 million to its now $18.6 million gross, edging ever closer to surpassing The Place Beyond the Pines’ $21.2 million as the biggest indie film of the year. Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing opened to the weekend’s biggest per theater average with $36,680 at each of 5 locations. That could certainly go far on Whedon’s natural charm.
Ethan Hawke seems to be having a pretty sweet summer. He has a critically acclaimed film making the rounds on the indie circuit, and he also has a disposable thriller making huge bucks in the box office. To The Purge‘s credit, it’s only made disposable by its home-invasion simplicity. The plot device of a world where illegal activity is permitted for one day is far more intriguing than the film it belongs to. Consider the gambit paid off, since the film earned $36.3 million opening weekend, making it Hawke’s biggest debut, period, and also his first film to open above $20 million since Training Day in 2001. Expect the second weekend fall for this one to be sizable, but Hawke should keep making waves through the summer as Before Midnight expands.
Well, if it’s not a winner, I suppose it must be a loser. True, The Internship‘s $18.1 million is a modest enough opening for a film of this value, but the $58 million price tag certainly went towards the actors and the location at Google headquarters. It didn’t entirely pay off, as Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn hit below their usual range of $30+ million. Vaughn in particular has been a depreciating property, so he’ll really have to hit it big with The Delivery Man in November to prove he’s still in the game. Hey, making a film with David O. Russell couldn’t hurt. If there’s a main reason The Internship didn’t sell, it’s that it doesn’t appeal enough to the youth market. Like the characters of the film, it’s old sensibilities are trying to find a place in the new, and they’re not doing so well.
Last year had much more to work with from this frame, with both highly anticipated sci-fi thriller Prometheus and children’s trilogy capper Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted playing to polar opposite demographics. The latter truly reaped the benefits of there not being an animated kids flick in theaters since The Lorax, opening with $60.3 million and heading to $216.4 million domestically, the highest cume of the trilogy. Prometheus had a less fortunate time, dealing with mild reviews and too-high expectations, yet still opened to a strong $51.1 million. It was a bigger hit than is usually expected of an R-rated film, and it went on $126.5 million and an option for a sequel that’s tentatively in the works. Maybe in another 30 years.
Exciting things were also happening on the indie scene, with Moonrise Kingdom skipping its way into the top 10 with $1.6 million on 96 screens. It was a significant benchmark for last summer’s “little movie that could”. Also continuing its strong showing in America was Richard Linklater’s Bernie, which had reached nearly $5 million at this point (7 weeks into release). Overall this weekend fell 15% shy of last year’s frame, but expect that to change significantly next weekend, when Man of Steel enters the box office with fists clenched and This is the End braces for impact two days ahead of the superhero flick.
Box Office Top 10 – June 7-9, 2013
Box Office Results via BoxOffice.com
1. The Purge (1st Weekend: $36.3 million)
2. Fast & Furious 6 (3rd Weekend: $19.7 million; Total: $202.9 million)
3. Now You See Me (2nd Weekend: $19.5 million; Total: $61.4 million)
4. The Internship (1st Weekend: $18.1 million)
5. Epic (3rd Weekend: $12.1 million; Total: $84.2 million)
6. Star Trek Into Darkness (4th Weekend: $11.7 million; Total: $200.1 million)
7. After Earth (2nd Weekend: $11.2 million; Total: $46.6 million)
8. The Hangover: Part III (3rd Weekend: $7.4 million; Total: $102.4 million)
9. Iron Man 3 (6th Weekend: $5.8 million; Total: $394.3 million)
10. The Great Gatsby (5th Weekend: $4.2 million; Total: $136.1 million)