Humor was in demand as A-list funnymen Steve Carell and Adam Sandler dominated the box office with their hit sequels Despicable Me 2 and Grown Ups 2, respectively, while the raunchy laughs of The Heat with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy also finished among the top four movies for the frame. The big-budget sci-fi actioner Pacific Rim opened in third and helped lead another weekend when ticket sales were substantially ahead of last year’s.
Staying at number one for a second weekend, Despicable Me 2 delivered a solid sophomore frame with an estimated $44.8M dropping only 46%. The toon smash has now amassed a staggering $229.2M and could be on its way to doing $350M or more from North America alone. By next weekend, it will surpass the $251.5M domestic total of its 2010 predecessor.
The Minions continued to win over audiences around the world too. The international marketplace took in a hefty $55.5M from 50 markets boosting the offshore sum to $243.2M and the global tally to $472.4M and rising quickly. By midweek, the worldwide haul will crush the half-billion mark.
Adam Sandler scored another box office hit, this time with his first-ever sequel, as the comedy Grown Ups 2 debuted close behind in second place with an estimated $42.5M. The Sony release averaged a sturdy $12,174 from 3,491 locations with no help from 3D. That edged out the $40.5M debut of its 2010 predecessor which went on to finish with $162M domestically. Grown Ups 2 tied last fall’s animated hit Hotel Transylvania for Sander’s second biggest opening weekend ever trailing only the $47.6M of 2005’s The Longest Yard.
The funnyman’s live-action films since the first Grown Ups ranged from disappointing to pathetic at the box office indicating that fans may have tired of his brand of humor. But the sequel opened at the high end of Sandler’s usual first weekend range cementing his status as one of the most reliable box office draws in the business. He is well on his way to having his 14th $100M+ domestic grosser over the past 15 years.
Grown Ups 2 – which also brought back Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Salma Hayek – skewed 53% female giving that audience a funny and light alternative to the macho action fare. 54% was under 25. Reviews were among the worst of the year which is usually the case with Sandler’s films. They don’t win over critics, but they do sell to mainstream moviegoers looking for light-hearted fun that requires no thinking. The CinemaScore grade was a mediocre B.
Opening in third place was the sci-fi actioner Pacific Rim with an estimated $38.3M from 3,275 theaters for a good $11,695 average. That was about even with the $37.1M bow of April’s futuristic thriller Oblivion with Tom Cruise. Both were sci-fi action pics not based on known brands which also had 3D and IMAX contributing. Oblivion was star-driven but Pacific had a prime summer slot. District 9 from the summer of 2009 opened to a similar $37.4M.
Ordinarily this would be a very strong opening for an original action film with no major box office stars. However, Pacific Rim carried an enormous budget, reportedly in the $200M range, so it will take a long road to reach break-even. Directed by Guillermo del Toro, Rim tells the story of a time in the near future when humans build humungous robots to do battle with alien monsters on a mission to exterminate Earth’s inhabitants.
Reviews were very positive and the CinemaScore grade was an encouraging A- which was the same as for other summer action flicks like Man of Steel, White House Down, and The Heat. This might indicate a good road ahead, although fanboy pics typically draw their main audience upfront. Studio research showed that males made up 61% of the crowd while 53% were over 25. The special effects were a big draw as 19% of the gross came from IMAX screens and 50% overall came from the 3D format. That share represented the highest of any film in that format this summer.
About half of the international marketplace opened Pacific Rim this weekend with $53M collected from 38 markets for a global debut of $91.3M. Most, but not all, markets were impressive led by $9.6M in Korea and $9.3M in Russia. More key markets are to come including France and Germany next weekend and China, which could be a huge one for an IMAX film like this, on July 31.
Enjoying the best hold in the top ten was the Sandra Bullock-Melissa McCarthy comedy hit The Heat which grossed an estimated $14M in its third weekend, off 44%. The Fox release surged to $112.4M becoming the sixth live-action $100M+ domestic grosser for Bullock and third for McCarthy in a major role.
Disney contributed the next two films. The mega-budgeted adventure The Lone Ranger tanked in its second frame with an estimated $11.1M falling a steep 62%. That was especially troubling considering that the opening day did not fall on the first frame’s Friday-to-Sunday take. The Johnny Depp misfire should end its domestic run just under the $100M mark. Overseas grosses are not exactly on fire. Only $48M has been collected so far from 33 markets representing a third of the overall foreign marketplace with the worldwide figure at just $119.1M. Additional major territories don’t open until August.
Among suppliers, the studio is seeing much better results from Pixar than from Jerry Bruckheimer. The toon sequel Monsters University declined by 46% to an estimated $10.6M in its fourth round pushing the total to $237.8M. The global score has risen to $474.2M on its way to over $600M.
Hunk-led disaster movies followed. Brad Pitt’s zombie thriller World War Z fell 49% to an estimated $9.4M while Channing Tatum’s White House Down dropped 54% to an estimated $6.2M. Totals are $177.1M for Paramount and $63M for Sony.
Standup concert film Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain followed with an estimated $5M, off 50%, giving Lionsgate $26.4M to date. Rounding out the top ten was the superhero smash Man of Steel which tumbled 58% to an estimated $4.8M putting Warner Bros. at $281M thus far. A final in the $290-295M range should result.
In the limited release scene, The Weinstein Co. attracted sensational business to its Sundance winner Fruitvale Station which bowed in just seven sites to an estimated $377,000 for a scorching $53,857 average. Reviews have been terrific and Oscar buzz is already growing. The Hindi film Bhaag Milkha Bhaag debuted to an estimated $670,000 from 139 theaters for a $4,820 average for distributor Reliance Entertainment. Indie comedy hit The Way, Way Back expanded from 19 to 79 locations and grossed an estimated $1.1M for a solid $14,051 average. With $1.9M to date, Fox Searchlight will expand to nearly 300 theaters on Friday.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $186.7M which was up 25% from last year when Ice Age: Continental Drift opened at number one with $46.6M; but down 25% from 2011 when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 debuted in the top spot with a record $169.2M.