Weekend Box Office: DESPICABLE ME 2 Remains on Top; GROWN UPS 2 Beats PACIFIC RIM

     July 14, 2013



This morning’s box office has a ‘good news, bad news’ kind of vibe. On the one hand, overall earnings were up significantly over 2012 thanks to the two sequels at the top of chart. The not-so-good news was for fans of Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim. With an estimated $38.3 million from 3,275 runs, the original action pic came in third behind Despicable Me 2 and Grown Ups 2.

 Title Weekend Total
1.  Despicable Me 2 $44,754,000 $229.2
2.  Grown Ups 2 $42,500,000 $42.5
3.  Pacific Rim $38,300,000 $38.3
4.  The Heat $14,000,000 $112.3
5.  The Lone Ranger $11,140,000 $71.1
6.  Monsters University $10,621,000 $237.7
7.  World War Z $9,430,000 $177
8.  White House Down $6,150,000 $62.9
9.  Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain $5,000,000 $26.3
10.  Man of Steel $4,825,000 $280.9

pacific-rim-posterWhile the summer of 2013 has continued to set records and surpass expectations, it’s been hit or miss for the season’s original films. Among non-franchise offerings, Gatsby, World War Z and The Heat have excelled while White House Down, The Lone Ranger and After Earth have struggled. After only three day in theatres, it is way too early to add Pacific Rim to that list of misses; but there is no doubt that del Toro’s fans were hoping for a stronger showing.

For a film with so  many obvious inspirations (Godzilla, Transformers, mecha-anime), Pacific Rim has surprisingly few appropriate comps to judge this morning’s box office by. Pacific Rim’s estimate is just over half what the first Transformers earned  in July of 2007. It also fell below Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla, which debuted to $44 million (not adjusted for inflation) in the summer of 1998. In both cases, however, the comparison is lacking: both Transformers and Godzilla were recognizable brands prior to their debut – and neither faced serious competition at the time of their premiers. Pacific Rim, on the other hand, was always a box office wild card; an ‘original’ property entering a market saturated by big-budget summer action.

Aside from its genre, picking a Pacific Rim comp based on release date or opening gross proves equally frustrating. On this weekend in 2010, Warner Bros.’ Inception opened with $62.7 million. Once again, Pacific Rim pales in comparison but, two years after the record-breaking success of director Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, Inception had a distinct advantage. In June 2011 JJ AbramsSuper 8 earned $35.4 million, or just under today’s Pacific Rim estimate. Opening totals aside, the two films have little else in common, including the fact that Super 8 cost one fourth Pacific Rim’s reported $200 million budget. What was a solid opening for one still looks like a disappointment for the other.

Naturally, any talk of disappointment has to include a big asterisk for international sales. Pacific Rim opened in 38 territories this weekend, and should ultimately see at least 60% of its worldwide gross from these markets. The film received strong reviews (72% on Rotten Tomatoes) so, provided international audiences haven’t maxed out on American action, Pacific Rim still has a good chance to redeem itself.

grown-ups-2-posterFor Grown Ups 2, international prospects are of much less consequence – which is why everyone involved with the sequel are feeling especially pleased with this morning’s US estimate. From 3,491 locations, Grown Ups 2 earned an estimated $42.5 million – topping the $40.5 million of 2010’s Grown Ups. Considering the original went on to earn $162 million in the US (the second highest total of Adam Sandler’s career) and $271 million worldwide, today’s results are very promising.

That’s especially true considering the film’s abysmal Rotten Tomatoes rating of 7% (Grown Ups scored 10%) and the fact that Sandler’s last two live-action features were bombs: Jack & Jill and That’s My Boy. It’s hard to believe that Grown Ups 2 will keep pace with its predecessor in the weeks to come but, at this point, anything is possible.

For a time on Friday, it looked like Grown Ups 2 might even take top honors away from Despicable Me 2, last week’s big winner. But, by this morning, the animated sequel showed a clear advantage, down just 46% to hold on to the top spot for a second weekend in a row. Despicable Me 2 also crossed the $200 million mark on Saturday, its eleventh day in theatres, which brought the film’s worldwide total up to $472 million on Sunday.

Just as Despicable Me 2 continues to soar, The Lone Ranger continues to plummet. After a disastrous Independence Day launch, the big budget western fell by more than 61% in its sophomore frame. The film has yet to launch in many major overseas markets but, after twelve days in theatres, The Lone Ranger has earned just $119 million – worldwide.

If you were worried that The Lone Ranger’s failure would leave our formerly overstuffed summer box office a bit depleted – not to worry! In the next week another four new titles will enter wide release, starting with DreamWorks Animation’s Turbo on Wednesday. R.I.P.D, The Conjuring and Red 2 all follow on Friday, though the prospects for each are less than overwhelming. This traffic jam of mediocrity could give a holdover like Pacific Rim a chance to stretch its legs a bit… but who am I kidding?


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