SUNDAY AM, 7TH UPDATE: This is yet another weekend that confounded and confused Hollywood as domestic numbers are coming in lower than projected and only international grosses are saving Summer 2013. Interesting that the Top Three films are all based on comic books. (Maybe that’s the reason?) Total moviegoing looks about $125M or about +8% from last year because of the glut of 3D films in the crowded marketplace.
I’m shocked how badly the #3 film Sony Pictures Animation‘s The Smurfs 2 (3,866 theaters) bombed in the U.S. and Canada where even the most wretched family fare can catch a break at the summer box office. This 3D hybrid live-action/CG animated sequel couldn’t even make in its first five days ($27.8M) what the 2011 original grossed in its first three-day weekend ($35.6M). Ouch! Guess little blue people creep me out and North Americans, too. The domestic total fell way short of the $35M first projected by the studio which blames too many PG films at the multiplex. But even the foreign cume was blah: $52.5M from 43 territories was “not enough to make up for U.S. underperformance,” a Sony exec tells me. That’s a worldwide total of $80.3M, far less than the $100M which Sony projected this weekend. Russia and Latin America beat Smurfs 1 while shockingly Europe (where the Smurfs began) did not. Let’s remember that the 2011 original made 75% of its coin overseas ($420M foreign vs $142M domestic) so Sony is was counting on a big worldwide weekend to save pic’s bottom-line. The negative cost for Smurfs 2 was $125M ($146M less production benefits of $21M). Sony also lined up for the sequel one of the studio’s largest global promotion campaigns with $150M from 100 corporations, licensees, and retail partners. (Including McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, blueberries). That’s a big deal for family fare not branded Disney, Pixar, or DreamWorks. As expected Smurfs 2 opened Wednesday #1 atop the North American box office but with only a lame $5.2M and then a lifeless $18.2M three-day weekend. Its Rotten Tomatoes score was a poor 12% but the ‘A-‘ CinemaScore from audiences didn’t help domestic word of mouth. I hear the Sony brass was concerned from the outset because their sequel was out-tracked by Disney’s Planes (which opens August 9th). Smurfs 2‘s disappointment will only put more pressure on the studio from cantankerous investor Daniel Loeb who’s currently destabilizing the studio. The first film was taken out of turnaround from Paramount by then Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman/CEO Michael Lynton, now the Sony America bigwig. And that original Smurfs movie caught lightning in a bottle and grossed $563M worldwide. Because of that, Smurfs 3 already is scheduled for 2015.
Better news for Emmett/Furla Films which financed 2 Guns that’s being distributed in America by Universal with EOne releasing in Canada. Playing in 3,025 domestic theaters, it was the #1 film this weekend – 7th time Universal has claimed top spot at the North American box office in 2013 – with a so-so $27.4M. Audiences liked it much more than critics who gave it only a middling 58% Rotten Tomatoes score vs its ‘B+’ CinemaScore. The studio had trouble building awareness in the crowded marketplace so low-balled its projection of only a $22M weekend. But two marquee stars paired for the first time like Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg should open any film to at least $25M. Good thing the ‘R’-rated comedy actioner cost only $61M. I think what helped box office is that Denzel rarely appears in a bad pic so audiences trust that. And Wahlberg is a consistent draw. Their starpower clearly was pushing gross for this film based on the Boom! Studios comic book by Steven Grant and directed by Baltasar Kormakur (who reteamed with Wahlberg after Contraband) and screenwriter Blake Masters (TV’s Brotherhood). 2 Guns was tracking strongest with its target audience of young males and African Americans after significant multicultural outreach. To that end, Universal developed an 82-second English-language spot specifically for the bilingual Hispanic audience. Washington and Wahlberg made appearances on NBCU-owned Telemundo’s morning show Un Nuevo Dia which created a first ever interview paired with the Today Show. 2 Guns villain Edward James Olmos did Hispanic media and developed 10 spots with Mexican-themes. Other promotions were aimed at African-Amercans including BeET’s top rated 106 & Park and the 2nd largest black network TV One. Exit polling showed moviegoers were 14% Hispanic and 28% African-American.
In #2 is Twentieth Century Fox’s holdover, Marvel’s Wolverine (with the highest theater count of 3,924). Marvel character played by Hugh Jackman yet again dropped 59% drop from last weekend for $21.7M and a new domestic cume through Sunday of $95M. Worldwide total is $255.2M.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros/New Line’s low-cost $19M horror genre The Conjuring (3,155 theaters) crossed $100M after three weeks Saturday on its way to $135M all in. Studio says it’s now the 6th biggest horror film of all time and easily will end up as #4 or even #3.
Here are the Top Ten films based on weekend estimates:
1. 2 Guns (Emmett-Furla/Universal) NEW [Runs 3,025] R
Friday $10.0M, Saturday $9.8M, Weekend $27.4M
2. The Wolverine 3D (20th Century Fox) Week 2 [Runs 3,924] PG13
Friday $6.4M, Saturday $8.6M, Weekend $21.7M (-59%), Cume $95.0M
International Cume $160.2M, Worldwide Total $255.2M
3. The Smurfs 2 3D (Sony Animation) Week 1 [Runs 3,866] PG
Friday $5.5M, Saturday $7.1M, Weekend $18.2M, Cume $27.8M
International Cume $52.5M, Worldwide Total $80.3M