SATURDAY 3 AM, 5TH UPDATE: This is turning into a wild and wacky overperforming weekend at the North American box office For Universal’s The Purge. My sources saw a big Friday for its moviegoing helped by Tropical Storm Andrea which worked its way up from Florida at midweek to the MidAtlantic’s East Coast and is dumping rain. That’s means people flocked to movie theaters so bigger-than-expected grosses. Insiders say Universal‘s small miscreant horror pic The Purge (in wide release in 2,536 theaters) is opening $15M Friday. This includes $3.4 million at Thursday 10 PM late shows and Friday midnights from 1,751 theaters which tops The Hangover Part III ($3.1M) and even Star Trek Into Darkness ($3.3M). That’s a huge number, even more so considering the R-rated crime spree thriller’s budget was only $3M. Estimates now are to reach $32.5M this weekend – a completely unexpected welcome. It’s the first movie in Universal’s overall deal with Paranormal Activity franchise producer Jason Blum. One reason for the rush to see it was the huge social media response to its creative and digital marketing campaign. It stars Ethan Hawke and Game Of Thrones Lena Headey, and was both written and directed by James DeMonaco (The Negotiator), and produced by Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes. It’s DeMonaco’s original spec script that he developed with producer Sebastien Lemercier and second feature as a director. On Thursday, Fandango said The Purge comprised 54% of online ticket sales, and Movieline 60%, as the #1 horror seller of the year. Fandango called it “a true phenomenon”.
And in #2 is the other wide release movie opening today, Twentieth Century Fox/New Regency’s PG-13 buddy comedy The Internship (3,365 theaters) which also is exceeding expectations. My sources say it made $7M Friday and $20M for the weekend for a budget pegged at $58M. Those grosses include $800K in Thursday late shows and Friday midnights which beat The Campaign’s $625K which also was a laugher starring two big but older stars “so things are looking up,” an insider tells me. Reviews were awful for the Vince Vaughn-Owen Wilson starrer from director Shawn Levy with every critic complaining it’s a 2-hour commercial for Google. How high grosses go may depend on the CinemaScore to see if moviegoers like the execution of an intriguing high-concept. The studio sneaked the film in 300 theaters around the country for 7 PM shows last Saturday night to help word of mouth. But pre-sales have been soft: pic was passed for the #2 spot in online ticket sales Thursday by last week’s holdover, Lionsgate/Summit’s Now You See Me which right now looks like #4. Hollywood wasn’t expecting The Internship to make $20M – which is the minimum that stars should open a pic – and more like $15M. 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. Fox grabbed the June 7th date last October, or 3 weeks earlier than The Internship was supposed to release. Now it’s the first original comedy of the summer.
Here’s the Top Ten based on Friday estimates: