Box Office Report: Michael Bay's 'Pain & Gain' Opens No. 1 With $20 Million

UPDATED: Audiences ask for a divorce from star-studded comedy "The Big Wedding," which opens to a dismal $7.5 million; Reese Witherspoon-Matthew McConaughey thriller "Mud" opens to a pleasing $2.2 million at the specialty box office.

Michael Bay's Pain & Gain -- headlining Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson -- topped the North American box office with $20 million on the final weekend before summer tentpoles begin rolling out.

The bigger box office headline was overseas, where Disney and Marvel Studios' Iron Man 3 opened to a mammoth $195.3 million, bigger than last year's The Avengers and boding well for the threequel's domestic launch on May 3 (Iron Man 3 officially kicks off the summer box office).

Pain & Gain, from Paramount and based on a true story, is a marked departure for Bay in both storyline and scope. The dark action comedy cost a modest $26 million to produce (at CinemaCon, Bay called the film his "small" movie) and overperformed in Bay's hometown of Miami, as well as in Los Angeles.

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The movie played more evenly among the genders than expected, with females making up 49 percent of the audience. However, it only received a C+ CinemaScore.

"Michael really aimed to do something that was challenging and polarizing. People who love the movie, love it. It has a unique tone and it also gets very dark," Paramount president of domestic marketing and distribution Megan Colligan said.

Pain & Gain also stars Anthony Mackie, Ed Harris, Tony Shalhoub, Rob Corddry, Rebel Wilson and Bar Paly. The screenplay was written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, based on the Miami New Times article of the same name by Pete Collins. The film is produced by Donald De Line, Bay and Ian Bryce.

The story follows a trio of bodybuilders (Wahlberg, Johnson and Mackie) who get caught up in an extortion ring and kidnapping scheme that goes horribly awry.

The weekend's other new wide entry, The Big Wedding, opened to a dismal $7.5 million to come in No. 4, despite a star-studded cast that includes Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Diane Keaton, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace, Ben Barnes, Susan Sarandon and Robin Williams.

Big Wedding, from Millennium and Lionsgate, appealed heavily to females (77 percent) but only drew a C+ CinemaScore. The R-rated comedy cost just north of $30 million to produce and was directed by Justin Zackham.

Universal's Oblivion came in No. 2 in its second outing, falling a respectable 53 percent to $17.4 million. The Tom Cruise sci-fi epic took in another $12.8 million overseas for an international cume of $134.1 million and worldwide total of $198.8 million (the pic's domestic total is $64.7 million).

Jackie Robinson baseball biopic 42 continued to hold nicely in its third weekend, coming in No. 3 with $10.7 million and pushing its domestic total to $69.1 million for Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros.

DreamWorks Animation and Fox's The Croods continued to make gains in its sixth weekend, upping its domestic total to $163 million and placing No. 5. The 3D animated film jumped the $300 million mark internationally for a worldwide total of $471 million, including $18 million from China.

Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon thriller Mud, from director Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter), made news at the specialty box office, opening to $2.2 million from 363 theaters. The critically acclaimed film, from FilmNation and Roadside Attractions, came in No. 11 overall.

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Mud, debuting just one week after Witherspoon was arrested for disorderly conduct in Atlanta, did well in traditional arthouse markets as well as in commercial theaters in Arkansas, where the film is set, and other locales in the South, Midwest and Southwest.

Mud was among a slew of new offerings at the specialty box office, many of which debuted to decidedly mixed results.

In the plus column was The Weinstein Co.'s Norwegian action-adventure Kon-Tiki, which grossed $22,334 from two theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a location average of $11,167, the best of the weekend. Recounting the real-life 1947 Kon-Tiki ocean expedition, the film was nominated for an Oscar for best foreign-language film. Directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg shot two versions of the film, one in Norwegian and one in English.

"It is a very satisfying film," TWC president of distribution Erik Lomis said. "It play older and received strong scores."

Mira Nair's The Reluctant Fundamentalist, distributed by IFC Films, opened to $32,700 from three theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a location average of $10,900.

Midnight's Children, scripted by Salman Rushdie and distributed by Paladin, opened to $12,200 from two locations for a tepid theater average of $6,100. Sony Pictures Classics' At Any Price, starring Zac Efron, Dennis Quaid and Heather Graham, opened to $16,574 from four locations for a theater average of $4,144.

Comedy Arthur Newman, starring Colin Firth, Emily Blunt and Anne Heche, fared poorly, opening to $107,880 from 248 theaters for a dismal location average of $435.

Below are the top 10 estimates for the April 12-14 weekend at the North American  box office.

Title, weeks in release/theater count, studio, three-day weekend total, cume

1. Pain & Gain, 1/3,277, Paramount, $20 million

2. Oblivion, 2/3,792, Universal, $17.4 million, $64.7 million

3. 42, 3/3,405, Warners/Legendary, $10.7 million, $69.1 million

4. The Big Wedding, 1/2,633, Lionsgate/Millennium, $7.5 million

5. The Croods, 6/3,283, Fox/DreamWorks Animation, $6.6, $163 million

6. G.I. Joe: Retaliation, 5/2,707, Paramount, $3.6 million, $116.4 million

7. Scary Movie 5, 3/2,733, The Weinstein Co., $3.5 million, $27.5 million

8. Olympus Has Fallen, 6/2,334, FilmDistrict, $2.8 million, $93.1 million

9. The Place Beyond the Pines, 5/1,584, Focus/Sidney Kimmel, $2.7 million, $16.2 million

10. Jurassic Park 3D, 4/1,848, Universal, $2.3 million, $42 million


Twitter: @PamelaDayM