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Fanboys turned out in strong numbers Thursday night to see Guillermo del Toro‘s Pacific Rim, taking in $3.6 million to match the start of World War Z, which went on to gross $66.4 million for the weekend.
From Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, Pacific Rim made headlines as it opened in Asia on Thursday, grossing $3.8 million from seven markets. The 3D sci-fic epic outpaced a slew of films that went on to gross between $300 million and $400 million internationally.
The news from Australia, which often mirrors the U.S. in terms of playability, was more troubling. Pacific Rim grossed a soft $666,000 as it opened on Thursday, coming in No. 4 behind Despicable Me 2, the opening day of The Heat and Monsters University (with school holidays, Despicable 2 and Monsters U are thriving).
Sony’s ensemble Adam Sandler comedy Grown Ups 2 didn’t do too shabby either as it likewise began rolling out in North America Thursday night, grossing an impressive $2.3 million. That’s a great result for a comedy and easily bested the $1 million earned Thursday night by box-office pleaser The Heat.
Box-office experts are divided as to whether Pacific Rim can overcome poor tracking. Based on prerelease tracking, they believe it may only open in the $30 million range, a financially precarious beginning for a movie that cost at least $190 million to produce (Legendary took the lead on the project and paid for the majority of the budget).
But WB and Legendary believe Pacific Rim could gross well north of $40 million, based on strong reviews and the buzz on social media. The big question will be how much Pacific Rim drops. A fanboy-driven film often will do especially big business on Friday but see substantial declines as the weekend progresses. That won’t be the case if Pacific Rim can lure families as well.
Pacific Rim, pitting giant robots against alien monsters, stars Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi and Charlie Day.
Imax theaters should do big business, with 23 percent of Thursday night’s gross coming from Imax locations ($835,000). Overall, 52 percent of the $3.6 million came from 3D locations, including Imax.
Pacific Rim opens just as Thomas Tull‘s Legendary and Warners prepare to part ways. Earlier this week, Legendary announced it has struck a new co-financing and production deal with Universal.
Sony’s Grown Ups 2, with a budget of $80 million, opens three years after the original film turned into a box-office hit, opening to $40.5 million and ultimately grossing $271.4 million worldwide.
The ensemble comedy — receiving blistering reviews — reteams Sandler with Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Salma Hayek, Maya Rudolph and Maria Bello. Grown Ups 2 had an abysmal 3 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes as of Thursday afternoon.
Sony insiders believe the sequel will open in the same range as the 2010 film.
Universal’s megahit Despicable Me 2 could easily stay at No. 1 in its second weekend. The 3D animated tentpole has already earned north of $165 million domestically and over $316 million worldwide.
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