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Moviegoing was down again at the domestic box office as Sony’s sci-fi action epic Total Recall opened to a soft $26 million, well behind the $36.4 million earned by defending champ The Dark Knight Rises in its third weekend.
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New family player Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days also came in on the low end of expectations in opening to $14.7 million. But the film cost a modest $22 million to produce, so it already is on solid ground financially.
The Aurora theater shooting and the London Olympics continue to mute moviegoing. Domestic ticket sales were down 25 percent from the same weekend last year, while research firm NRG continues to warn studios that 20 percent of the moviegoing audience remains skittish after the July 20 shooting (16 percent reported they would be watching the Olympics this weekend).
Heading into the weekend, Sony projected a domestic opening in the $25 million to $30 million range for Total Recall, though many box-office observers believed it would come in on the higher end and possibly jump the $30 million mark (the original 1990 film snagged a $25.5 million opening). The remake cost at least $125 million to produce.
“We opened within that realm, and I think the film will be very successful on a worldwide basis,” Sony president of worldwide distribution Rory Bruer said. “When you consider the scope of the movie and all the special effects, it was made for a very reasonable price.”
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Total Recall — directed by Len Wiseman and headlining Colin Farrell in the role made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger — is counting on a strong international run to boost its bottom line and opened in 10 Asian markets this weekend, earning $6.2 million. Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel also star.
The remake played best to older moviegoers in North America. Males made up 58 percent of the audience, while ticket holders over age 30 made up 53 percent.
Neither critics nor moviegoers were wowed by Total Recall, which is based on both Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 film and the short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick. The film drew generally poor reviews and earned a C+ CinemaScore from audiences, likely hurting word-of-mouth.
Total Recall’s tepid opening is another blow for Farrell, whose recent studio films have failed to become commercial hits.
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Fox’s Wimpy Kid 3 is the first film in the family franchise to open in summer (in keeping with the story’s setting). The previous two installments debuted in March, each opening north of $22 million.
Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution for Fox, said Wimpy Kid 3 will make up the difference during the week, considering that kids are still out of school.
“We’re off to a good start, and the balance of summer lies ahead,” Aronson said.
Wimpy Kid 3 earned an A- CinemaScore, the same grade the first two films earned.
Dark Knight Rises, from Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, fell only 41 percent in its third weekend and has now grossed $354.6 million domestically. The Christopher Nolan movie starring Christian Bale continues to trail 2008’s The Dark Knight, which had amassed a domestic war chest of $393 million at the same point during its run.
Imax theaters continue to see big grosses for Dark Knight Rises, generating $5.6 million in tickets sales over the weekend for a cume of $48 million.
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