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Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington‘s R-rated action pic 2 Guns easily won the North American box office race with a solid $27.4 million, while Sony’s The Smurfs 2 limped to a third-place finish as Hollywood overcrowds the box office with family films.
Smurfs 2 took in $18.2 million for the weekend for a disappointing five-day debut of $27.3 million — compared to the $35.6 million opening of The Smurfs in late July 2011. Sony is banking on the sequel to make up ground overseas; rolling out in 42 markets this weekend, the CGI/live-action pic took in $52.5 million for a worldwide total of $80.3 million.
Dampened by a heat wave in Europe, the sequel’s international debut was 4 percent behind the 2011 film. In Russia, the pic took in $5.4 million, a third bigger than the original Smurfs. Latin America ponied up $18 million, led by Brazil ($4.7 million) and Mexico ($4.3 million). A worldwide gross of $500 million isn’t out of the question, based on these numbers, according to one insider.
Guillermo del Toro‘s Pacific Rim narrowly bested Smurfs 2 for the No. 1 spot at the international box office, grossing $53 million from 58 markets — with the lion’s share, or $45.2 million, coming from its China debut. Pacific Rim has now earned nearly $295 million worldwide, including $200.4 million overseas, although it’s still not clear whether it can break even.
Smurfs 2, placing No. 3 domestically behind 2 Guns and holdover The Wolverine, is problematic for Sony as the studio continues to fend off shareholder activist Daniel Loeb.
The Wolverine, coming in No. 2 in its second weekend for 20th Century Fox, took in $21.7 million for a North American total of $95 million. The Hugh Jackman superhero pic, continuing to do big business overseas, grew its foreign total to $160.2 million for a worldwide cume of $255.2 million.
From Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur, 2 Guns was fueled by an ethnically diverse audience, with African-Americans making up 28 percent of the audience and Hispanics, 14 percent. Interestingly, women made up 49 percent of the audience, while 77 percent of those buying tickets were over the age of 25. The numbers suggest that older couples turned out in force to watch Wahlberg and Washington pair up for the first time on the big screen.
“We’re very happy to have the No. 1 opening in North America for the seventh time this year,” said Universal president of domestic distribution Nikki Rocco. “I think the chemistry between Washington and Wahlberg was a big draw. Adults really enjoyed the film.”
Universal is distributing the film in the U.S., while Entertainment One has Canada.
The action pic, earning a B+ CinemaScore and infused with a heavy dose of humor, cost between $80 million and $90 million to produce, although the net budget was $61 million after tax incentives. Emmett/Furla Films financed the film, with Foresight Unlimited co-financing and handling international rights. The film project generated huge interest among foreign distributors, with Sony Worldwide Acquisitions Group buying rights to much of the world.
“This opening is absolutely good for the film’s international prospects. It means we will ride into the the $80 million range or above. I think we are going to do just great overseas,” Foresight Unlimited CEO Mark Damon said. “Entertainment One is also releasing the film in the U.K., and we’ve arranged for Mark Wahlberg to go over and promote the picture.”
2 Guns revolves around a DEA agent (Washington) and Naval Intelligence officer (Wahlberg) who must work together after they are set up by the CIA. Wahlberg and Kormakur first worked together on action pic Contraband, which debuted to $24.3 million in January 2012.
Smurfs 2, scoring an A- CinemaScore, is a victim of too many family films. Opening two weeks ago, DreamWorks Animation’s Turbo has also underperformed as it opened in the wake of Universal’s megahit Despicable Me 2.
“It’s a bit of a bummer how it performed here, but it’s set to do big business on the world stage. To be at $80 million-plus at this point with many major markets yet to go, including China, we are in a great position,” said Sony president of worldwide distribution Rory Bruer. “It will be hugely successful for the studio.”
The first Smurfs grossed north of $420.4 million internationally, representing 75 percent of the world total of $561.3 million.
Despicable 2, now in its fourth weekend, continues to stay high up on the box office chart, grossing $10.4 million over the weekend to place No. 5 and pushing its domestic total to $326.7 million. Overseas, the animated tentpole has now earned $387 million for a worldwide total of $713.7 million.
Turbo placed No. 7 in North America for a domestic total of $69.5 million
Hollywood has never opened so many family films in a single summer. This season boasts Epic, Monsters University, Despicable 2, Turbo, Smurfs 2 and Planes, which hits theaters in two weeks (there’s also the Percy Jackson sequel, though that will skew older).
Based on the comic book series created by the Belgian artist Peyo, Smurfs 2 is the second title in a planned trilogy (The Smurfs 3 is set for summer 2015). The sequel sees all of the main cast returning, with Neil Patrick Harris and Hank Azaria reprising their live-action roles. Jonathan Winters, who died this spring, and Katy Perry lead the voice cast, while Raja Gosnell returns to the director’s chair.
At the specialty box office, Lindsay Lohan‘s erotic thriller The Canyons failed to make much of a dent, grossing a meek $15,200 at the IFC Center in New York City. However, the pic was a strong draw on VOD, according to IFC Films, which is distributing the film domestically. Canyons was directed by Paul Schrader and written by Bret Easton Ellis.
A24 Films’ dramedy The Spectacular Now enjoyed a strong start as it launched in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles, grossing $200,181 for a location average of $50,295. Directed by James Ponsoldt, the dramedy headlines Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
Woody Allen‘s Blue Jasmine was a big winner as it expanded into a total of 50 locations, grossing $1.9 million for a location average of $40,441 and a cume of $3 million. The Sony Pictures Classics film, starring Cate Blanchett, is outperforming Allen’s Midnight in Paris.
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