Thanks to a clever, well-executed marketing effort, micro-budget horror movie The Purge easily took first place this weekend ahead of higher-profile Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson comedy The Internship. Meanwhile, Fast & Furious 6 became the second Summer 2013 movies to pass $200 million at the domestic box office.
Produced for just $3 million, The Purge debuted to a fantastic $34.1 million. That's a record for original R-rated horror ahead of last year's The Devil Inside ($33.7 million), which is particularly impressive considering the movie didn't have a supernatural angle. The Purge's opening was also twice as much as producer Jason Blum and star Ethan Hawke's Sinister, which started off with $18 million last October.
Going in to the weekend, it looked like the best comparable title was The Strangers ($21 million), which opened around the same time in 2008 and also centered around a home invasion. The fact that The Purge wound up so much higher can be attributed to the movie's unique, intriguing premise—what if all crime was legal for 12 hours once a year? Universal's marketing team made the smart decision to hone in on this in all of their material, and as a result were able to expand the movie's reach beyond the typical horror audience. According to Universal, that audience was 56 percent female and 56 percent under 25 years of age.
In 2012, the highest-grossing horror movie was Paranormal Activity 4 at $53.9 million. In 2013, two movies have already topped that figure (Mama and Evil Dead), and The Purge will also wind up above that. Still, don't expect The Purge to hang on too well in the weeks ahead: horror movies have a tendency to fizzle pretty quickly, and with a poor "C" CinemaScore and a very front-loaded weekend (Friday accounted for over 49 percent of the gross) The Purge isn't going to be buck that trend. Ultimately, the movie should wind up somewhere between $70 and $80 million.
In second place, Fast & Furious 6 dropped 44 percent to $19.6 million. To date, the sixth installment in the Fast series has earned $202.8 million, and it will pass Fast Five's $209.8 million franchise record by Friday.
After a surprisingly strong opening last weekend, Now You See Me eased 35 percent to $19.04 million. That's a fantastic hold for a Summer release, and indicates word-of-mouth is very good. To date, the movie has $60.9 million in the bank, and if it can hang in against Man of Steel next weekend it should be able to get to $100 million by the end of its run.
As expected, audiences weren't as interested in crashing Google as they were about crashing weddings: The Internship opened in fourth place with $17.3 million, or just a little over half of Wedding Crashers's $33.9 million. It is at least ahead of Vaughn's The Watch ($12.8 million) and Wilson's Hall Pass ($13.5 million), though that's not saying much.
Many factors kept The Internship from living up to its potential as a Wedding Crashers follow-up. In the immediate wake of Wedding Crashers, Wilson and Vaughn went on to find separate success (Vaughn more so than Wilson), but recent outings have been underwhelming commercially and critically. Instead of appearing to be a triumphant return to form, though, The Internship struggled to overcome cynicism surrounding it's tie-in with Google. Throw in poor reviews and an odd PG-13 rating (compared to an "R" for Wedding Crashers) and The Internship ultimately fell a bit short.
The audience was split evenly between men and women, and skewed a bit older (61 percent were 25 and up). It received a "B+" CinemaScore, which doesn't really give a good indication about word-of-mouth. Still, with This is the End opening in a few days, it's unlikely that The Internship is able to hold up well enough to really turn the story around.
Rounding out the Top Five, Epic eased 29 percent to $11.9 million. Through three weekends, the Blue Sky Animation movie has earned $83.9 million; it should perform well again next week before facing tough competition from Monsters University on June 21. Star Trek Into Darkness dipped 32 percent to $11.4 million. In comparison, 2009's Star Trek earned $12.6 million on the same weekend. On Monday, Into Darkness will pass $200 million.
Will and Jaden Smith sci-fi adventure After Earth fell to seventh place with $10.7 million, which is off 61 percent from opening weekend. The movie has only earned $46.1 million so far, and is on pace to wind up below $70 million.
Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing opened to $171,941 at five locations. Roadside Attractions is planning a light expansion next weekend before pushing it out in to 200-300 locations on June 21.
Following unfavorable results at the domestic box office, After Earth saved some face with a solid $45.5 million overseas debut this weekend ($48.6 million total including last weekend's opening in South Korea). According to Sony, that's about on par with Oblivion across the same markets; Oblivion is on pace to close with around $200 million overseas, which now appears to be a good target for After Earth. After Earth's top territory was Russia with $8.5 million, and it also performed well in Mexico ($5.3 million). It also opened in France ($4 million), the U.K. ($3.5 million), Italy ($2.2 million), Brazil ($2.1 million) and Germany ($1.9 million), along with many smaller markets. Fast & Furious 6 added $45.3 million, which includes an excellent $10.8 million debut in Australia (the biggest ever for Universal). It's now earned $381.7 million, and will pass Fast Five ($416 million) next weekend. With Japan and China opening in July, a $500 million final tally is within reach.
After a strong start last weekend, The Hangover Part III fell over 57 percent to $34.8 million. The final installment in the Hangover series has grossed $170.5 million so far, and even with Japan and Mexico on the way it looks like it's going to have a tough time getting close to Part II's $332 million total. Star Trek Into Darkness earned $17.6 million for a total of $176.4 million. The Great Gatsby took in $13.3 million for a total of $142.6 million. Epic added $12.7 million to push its cume to $105.4 million.