SUNDAY 1:30 AM, 4TH UPDATE: Still clocking in at #1 is Universal’s Fast & Furious 6 (3,686 theaters) which easily dominated the field again with $34M this weekend. The domestic cume should reach a huge $170M through Sunday. But the big story – or should I say, the sad story – is Sony Pictures/Columbia’s After Earth (3,401 theaters) starring Will Smith and his son and directed by the now unwatchable M Night Shyamalan. Big online ticketseller Fandango first spotted the pic’s underperformance when After Earth ticket sales began lagging Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment’s Now You See Me (2,925 theaters) on Thursday for shows beginning at 9 PM. The magic-themed heist thriller amazingly overtook After Earth on Friday and stayed #2 all weekend, debuting with $27.5M for the weekend. That overperforms the $20M which the studio was predicting. This pic is breaking the so-called ‘movies about magic’ curse. (But it’s really a caper flick…) The film cost right around $75M with 2/3s mitigated by foreign sales since that’s the Lionsgate model. The studio notes that grosses were strong throughout Friday and into the evening which indicates a broad audience. “Older audiences attended the matinee performances, and the younger audience came out to our late shows,” an exec tells me. Directed by Louis Leterrier (Clash Of The Titans), scripted by credited screenwriters Ed Solomon and Boaz Yakin & Edward Ricourt, and produced by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Bobby Cohen, it has an ensemble cast including Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, and Common with showy roles for vets Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman. It earned an ’A-’ CinemaScore which should help word of mouth stay strong.
But #3 After Earth earned only a ‘B’ CinemaScore which won’t help or hurt word of mouth. It opened to a $26.5M weekend. That’s way less than the high $30sM to low $40sM which Sony was predicting and which tracking showed was possible right into Friday. On Friday, rival studios chortled its grosses were ”2.5 times worse than Jaden Smith’s Karate Kid reboot and half of Oblivion‘s opening” with Tom Cruise. Not hard to understand because reviews for the sci-fi newcomer were just plain awful: 13% positive on Rotten Tomatoes. To be fair, Sony Pictures rarely has a big underperformer like this. And rightly or wrongly depending on how much you care about Jaden Smith and/or nepotism in Hollywood, the studio positioned the movie as a broad family film, building on Jaden’s stardom from the worldwide hit The Karate Kid and reaching out to young teens and families. Will Smith’s residual mega-wattage was still strong enough to open the summer tentpole comfortably above $20M. But even that and Sony’s marketing prowess couldn’t overcome this Shyamalan meltdown, yet another in his string of box office stinkers which have made audiences and critics alike completely soured on him. (The director lost me forever after the execrable The Happening…) I’m told that Will really wanted M Night to direct – even though this subject matter decidedly wasn’t in Shyamalan’s wheelhouse – and they together developed the script for a “not terribly expensive” movie. But a budget of at least $130M is hardly insignificant. Still, given the fact that Smith has made billions for Sony Pictures, the studio felt it just couldn’t say no to its most successful movie partner. Now Smith and Sony must weather this very public failure. I’m told the studio worked “really hard” to fix this crapfest in post-production and that even an arrogant know-it-all like Shyamalan was aware the pic didn’t work but couldn’t fix it on his own. ”You keep hoping people are going to be as good as their best work,” one insider told me about this all-too-familiar filmdom situation. “Sometimes some collaborations bring forth amazing results. And some are not meant to be.” Without a solid opening in North America and no chance for a strong summer multiple, pic will have to depend on overseas grosses. Sony launched it internationally day and date in 3 locations this weekend, and Korea opened very strong, but the overseas rollout really begins next week and the week after. As for the studio, it still has projected winners coming up this summer like Grown-Ups 2, Elysium, Smurfs 2, and This Is The End from the Superbad/Pineapple Express comedy team.
Hoping to fill that drought in PG family fare at the domestic box office, Twentieth Century Fox/Blue Sky Studios’ Epic (3,894 theaters, the weekend’s biggest count) came in #4 and should be grossing more domestically but isn’t. Even with a big Saturday kiddie bump of +65% from Friday, it’ll only earn a $16M second weekend and $64.7 cume. But the toon’s real story will be international where it released wide Friday.
In #5, Paramount’s Star Trek Into Darkness (3,585 theaters) did a $15.2M weekend and $181M domestic cume. Now a new crop of TV ads finally are targeting new moviegoers and driving traffic among non-Trekkies.
Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures’ The Hangover Part III (3,565 theaters) was #6 for a disappointingly anemic $15M second weekend and so-so $87.1M cume. Still unclear if in the morning it will finish a place or two ahead or behind in the Top Ten. However, H3 began its overseas wide rollout this weekend and is doing huge international grosses just as expected. On Thursday, it opened in 25 markets and grossed $15.4M for an international cume of $48.2M. Taking advantage of the public holiday, Germany marked the best opening day of the year. Russia is off to an excellent start ranking #1. Other #1 countries include Italy and Brazil (heading into a 4-day holiday weekend). ”These are great numbers, especially when you consider how big Hangover II was internationally – $332M,” a Warner Bros exec tells me.
On Saturday night the only laugher in the marketplace The Hangover Part III had competition from the Vince Vaughn-Owen Wilson buddy comedy directed by Shawn Levy, The Internship, about middle-aged interns inside Google. PG-13 pic doesn’t officially open in 3,000-plus North American theaters until June 7th but Twentieth Century Fox quietly decided to sneak it in 300 theaters for one prime 7 PM show around the country. Hard to believe it’s been 8 years since these actors first teamed up for Wedding Crashers. Even harder to understand why New Line never did a sequel for that or Toby Emmerich didn’t snap up Vaughn’s original script for this. I’ve asked and received no satisfactory answer on both.
1. Fast & Furious 6 (Universal) Week 2 [Runs 3,686] PG13
Friday $10.5M, Saturday $13.6m, Weekend $34.0M (-65%), Cume $169.8M
2. Now You See Me (Summit/Lionsgate) NEW [Runs 2,925] PG13
Friday $10.0M, Saturday $10.9M, Weekend $27.5M
3. After Earth (Columbia/Sony) NEW [Runs 3,401] PG13
Friday $9.8M, Saturday $10.1M, Weekend $26.5M
4. Epic (Blue Sky/Fox) Week 2 [Runs 3,894] PG13
Friday $4.1M, Saturday $6.8M, Weekend $16.0M, Cume $64.7M
5. Star Trek Into Darkness (Paramount) Week 3 [Runs 3,585] PG13
Friday $4.4M, Saturday $6.5M, Weekend $15.2M, Cume $181.0M
6. The Hangover Part III (Legendary/Warner Bros) Week 2 [Runs 3,565] R
Friday $5.2M, Saturday $6.0M, Weekend $15.0M (-64%), Cume $87.1M