This weekend, Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg seized the number one spot at the North American box office with their new action thriller 2 Guns, which opened to an estimated $27.4M. Universal’s seventh top spot debut of the year averaged a solid $9,045 from 3,025 locations and ended up in the mid-20s range where so many of Washington’s films have opened before. It was an impressive bow given that the film was rated R, was not part of a well-known brand, and arrived as the 14th action movie of the summer. Audiences have had a plethora of choices in this genre lately and no action movie has overperformed since World War Z in mid-June.
Earning mixed reviews, 2 Guns played to a broad audience of older adults. Studio research showed that cross-gender appeal was substantial with females taking a slight edge at 51% while those over 25 made up a very high 77% of the audience. The CinemaScore grade was a mediocre B+ so buzz is not anything too special. The undercover cop pic cost $61M to produce.
For Washington, 2 Guns delivered the fifth best opening of his career and now his top eight debuts are all for R-rated pictures. While he doesn’t do mega-budgeted tentpoles, the Oscar winner has been among the most bankable and reliable box office draws in the film industry over the last decade. In fact, over the last thirteen years, 14 of his 15 films have opened above $20M and none were sequels. 2003’s Out of Time was the sole exception with a $16.2M debut and this does not count his two directorial efforts which featured him in supporting roles. When Denzel Washington picks a project to star in, audiences know they will be entertained. This consistency is especially remarkable given that the actor turns 60 next year. Stars of this age rarely keep headlining hits.
The superhero flick The Wolverine dropped down to second place in its sophomore session with an estimated $21.7M falling 59% in the process. The drop fell between the 61% suffered by 2011’s Captain America at the same point in the summer and the 56% of X-Men: First Class from early June that same season. All were based on Marvel characters. The decline was much smaller than the awful 69% tumble that the much-despised X-Men Origins: Wolverine had in May 2009. Hugh Jackman’s latest turn as the clawed mutant has collected $95M in its first ten days, putting it just below the $98M of First Class over the same span. Produced for $120M, look for The Wolverine to end its domestic run at about the $140M mark.
Hollywood’s rocky summer saw another casualty of war open in third place. The kidpic sequel The Smurfs 2 debuted to an estimated $18.2M over the weekend and $27.8M since its Wednesday bow. Even the extended five-day launch came in below the three-day opening of the first Smurfs movie which was also in late July with $35.6M two years ago. Competition was a factor as the leggy Despicable Me 2 was still in eight-digit territory in its fifth weekend while the DreamWorks toon Turbo took away a bit of the family audience too. Parents and kids have had more than their fair share of movies this summer and more new choices are not in demand.
Smurfs 2 earned an A- CinemaScore grade which is common for family flicks, however reviews were negative across the board. Insults from critics do not always affect the box office of these types of films, as evidenced by the Alvin and the Chipmunks trilogy, which grossed over $1.1 billion worldwide. Smurfette and her gang are counting on overseas markets to bring in the coin since the last Smurfs movie made a whopping $564M globally with 75% coming from international. The sequel fared better abroad this weekend with an estimated $52.5M from 43 territories for a global opening of $80.3M. Sony reported that the overseas bow was off just 4% from its predecessor with Russia and the U.K. leading the way this weekend with number one debuts of $5.4M and $5.1M respectively.
The runaway blockbuster The Conjuring smashed the $100M mark this weekend and continued to hold up well with an estimated $13.7M in its third scare. Off 39%, the Warner Bros. release has now grossed an amazing $108.6M while costing only $20M to produce. The supernatural thriller has become that rare summer film that doesn’t need to rely on international success to become a moneymaker. A final gross of $140-150M is likely from North America alone for the crowdpleasing haunted house flick.
Toon behemoth Despicable Me 2 became the first movie this summer to spend five weekends in the top five as it captured another $10.4M, according to estimates, declining by just 37%. The Universal smash’s amazing staying power has resulted in a gold mine for the studio, but competing kidpics over the past month have taken a beating at the multiplexes. The latest Gru pic has amassed a staggering $326.7M making it the year’s second biggest blockbuster in North America after Iron Man 3. The overseas gross surged to $387M putting the worldwide gross at a towering $713.7M on its way past $800M with Russia still to come.
Adam Sandler’s latest nine-digit hit Grown Ups 2 followed with an estimated $8.1M in its fourth round, down only 30%, for a $116.4M cume for Sony. The original toon Turbo got hit hard by the arrival of Papa Smurf and company, falling 53% to an estimated $6.4M. The Fox release upped its sum to $69.5M and looks unlikely to reach the $100M mark.
Dropping 40% to an estimated $5.7M was the action sequel Red 2 which has banked a not-so-impressive $45.2M to date for Lionsgate. Fox’s sleeper hit The Heat enjoyed another low decline slipping just 32% to an estimated $4.7M with a remarkable $149.6M overall. Rounding out the top ten was the sci-fi pic Pacific Rim with an estimated $4.6M, down 41%, giving Warner Bros. a $93M domestic cume. It also rocked China with a five-day opening of roughly $45M driven by 3D and IMAX success propelling the overseas cume past $200M and the global tally to $293.4M on its way to over $400M worldwide with some key markets still to come.
Following its sensational platform bow in six locations last weekend, Woody Allen’s latest film Blue Jasmine enjoyed a good expansion to 50 theaters resulting in an estimated $2M frame for a potent $40,440 average. The Sony Classics cume stands at $3M with another round of cities to launch next weekend. Elsewhere on the indie scene, Fox Searchlight’s comedy The Way, Way Back slipped only 17% to an estimated $2.9M for a solid $13.7M total. The Weinstein Co. saw its Fruitvale Station drop 41% to an estimated $2.7M with $11M overall. Both films are playing in just over 1,000 theaters.
With the final month of the summer movie season starting, studio offerings from mid-season are winding down their domestic runs. Current totals for recent big-budget offerings include $258.6M for Monsters University, $195.9M for World War Z, $86.7M for The Lone Ranger, and a lousy $30.4M for R.I.P.D.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $120.8M which was up 8% from last year when The Dark Knight Rises remained at number one with $35.7M; but down 22% from 2011 when Rise of the Planet of the Apes opened in the top spot with $54.8M.