Gauging by Internet hype, Pacific Rim was easily the most-anticipated movie opening this weekend. General audiences weren't quite as enthusiastic, though, and the monsters vs. robots action movie wound up behind Adam Sandler's Grown Ups 2and animated hit Despicable Me 2.
Overall, the Top 12 earned $187.9 million, which is up 22 percent year-over-year.
In first place, Despicable Me 2 fell 47 percent to $43.9 million this weekend. That's generally in line with last month's Monsters University, though the drop is a bit steeper than that of the first Despicable Me (42 percent). Through 12 days, Despicable Me 2 has earned $228.4 million, and will pass the first movie's $251.5 million total by Friday. Based on its current trajectory, it should wind up being the Summer's second-highest-grossing movie with around $350 million.
In second place, comedy sequel Grown Ups 2 opened to $41.5 million from 3,491 locations. That's slightly better than the first Grown Ups, which took in $40.5 million over its first weekend in 2010. It's also the fourth-highest live-action debut in star Adam Sandler's 20-year career (first place belongs to The Longest Yard with $47.6 million).
After poor performances from Jack and Jill ($74.1 million) and That's My Boy ($36.9 million), many speculated that audiences were tiring of Adam Sandler's shtick. That may be the case, though Grown Ups 2's opening suggests that audiences were simply rejecting off-brand, misguided efforts from Sandler, not Sandler himself. The marketing didn't rest on Sandler alone, though: it made clear that most of the gang was coming back from the original, and had a few stand-out gags as well (the deer pee and cliff jump scenes may be crude, but they're also very memorable). Exit polling indicated that the audience was 53 percent female and 54 percent under the age of 25, which suggests that this was a draw among family audiences.
While Grown Ups 2 opened higher than the first movie, it's unlikely to match that movie's $162 million total. It received a poor "B" CinemaScore—in line with Jack and Jill—and isn't going to get the holiday boost that the first Grown Ups had over the Fourth of July weekend. Still, Grown Ups 2 is well-positioned for a final gross of at least $120 million.
Playing at 3,275 theaters, Pacific Rim debuted to $37.3 million this weekend. That's the highest opening ever for director Guillermo Del Toro ahead of Hellboy II: The Golden Army, which took in $34.5 million on the same weekend in 2008. Still, it's not a particularly strong start: among recent non-sequel sci-fi, it's about on par with Oblivion ($37 million), and way off from World War Z ($66.4 million).
The movie performed particularly well in IMAX, which accounted for $7.9 million (19 percent) of the opening. Its 50 percent 3D share was the highest so far this Summer, though that's mainly a statement on how weak 3D has been at the domestic box office lately.
Going in to the weekend, some tracking suggested Pacific Rim was in for a truly terrible start (below $30 million). While it wound up opening noticeably better than that, its $38.3 million debut is still a little disappointing. Because director Guillermo Del Toro isn't a mainstream selling point, and because the movie was entirely free of true movie stars, Warner Bros. marketing made the primary selling point the monsters vs. robots action. While that proved very appealing to a niche "fan boy" audience, the movie remained inaccessible to general moviegoers. Without their support, there's only so high a movie can go on opening weekend.
As expected, the audience skewed younger (67 percent under the age of 35) and male (61 percent). It received a good "A-" CinemaScore; combine that with decent reviews, and it's likely that Pacific Rim has solid holds over the next few weeks. Still, it's unlikely that the movie winds up much higher than $110 million, which means that its ultimate success will be almost entirely dependent on international performance.
In its third weekend, The Heat fell 44 percent to $14 million. To date, the Sandra Bullock/Melissa McCarthy movie has earned $112.4 million, and is on pace to be the highest-grossing comedy of the Summer with over $150 million.
After a disappointing start over the Fourth of July weekend, The Lone Ranger plummeted 61 percent to $11.5 million. In comparison, Johnny Depp's Public Enemies—also a poorly-received Independence Day opener—only dipped 45 percent at the same point. The mega-budget Western has now earned $71.5 million, and will likely fall just short of reaching $100 million total. Monsters University added $10.6 million this weekend for a new total of $237.8 million. It's now ahead of Pixar's last movie Brave ($237.3 million), and is also currently the third-highest-grossing movie of 2013 (though Despicable Me 2 will take that spot within the week).
Surprise hit World War Z fell 49 percent to $9.3 million this weekend. The movie has grossed $177 million total, which puts it just ahead of Rise of the Planet of the Apes ($176.8 million).
In its second weekend, The Way, Way Back expanded to 79 locations and earned $1.12 million. The Fox Searchlight comedy/drama expands in to over 250 locations next weekend before making a nationwide push on July 26th. Fruitvale Station opened at seven locations this weekend and scored a very impressive $386,291 (a strong per-theater average over $55,184). Expansion plans aren't clear, though with great initial figures and strong reviews it will likely make its way in to moderate release by early August. Around-the-World Roundup Despicable Me 2 led the overseas box office this weekend with an estimated $55.5 million. To date, it's earned $243.2 million, which Universal Pictures reports is twice as high as the first movie across the same markets. By the end of the week, it should pass that movie's $293 million total, and remains on course for a final tally well over $400 million.
Coinciding with its domestic debut, Pacific Rim opened in 38 foreign markets and took in an estimated $53 million. According to Warner Bros., those territories represent approximately 50 percent of the international marketplace.
The movie got off to very strong starts in South Korea ($9.6 million), Russia ($9.3 million) and Mexico ($5.3 million). It was much less impressive in the U.K. ($3.2 million) and Australia ($2.6 million). It still has openings in China, Japan, France, Germany, Spain and Brazil on the way; it should do particularly well in China and Japan, and $300 million overseas looks like it could be reachable.
Playing in 86 percent of the international marketplace, Monsters University added $30.2 million for a total of $236.4 million. It had fine openings in the U.K. ($5.3 million) and France ($3.7 million), though neither were real stand-outs. World War Z continued its strong run with an estimated $22.4 million this weekend. To date, its earned $246 million overseas; adding in the domestic grosses, it's now banked over $400 million worldwide. After Earth opened to an estimated $11.6 million in China this weekend ($13.7 million across all its markets). This helped the Will Smith/Jaden Smith sci-fi disappointment pass $200 million worldwide. Man of Steel added $13.3 million this weekend, just under half of which came from a very good $5.65 million start in Brazil. So far, it's grossed $338.2 million overseas, and with a Japan opening at the end of August it could still make a push towards $400 million.
In 35 percent of overseas markets, The Lone Ranger earned $12.7 million this weekend. Its only major opening was in Brazil, where it took in $1.7 million. Its total so far is $48 million, and it still has six big markets left to open.