After Earth Purged from Box Office, Internship Denied
By John Hamann
June 9, 2013
With a blockbuster-free frame at the box office, it may seem like a slow weekend, but there are plenty of weird and wonderful things happening – including a strong Purge and a quiet Internship - and all of it taking place in the very large shadow of the Man of Steel.
After a very strange frame last weekend where the counter-programming piece Now You See Me beat the theoretical blockbuster After Earth, audiences are giving box office analysts another puzzle this weekend, as the micro-budgeted The Purge grossed twice what The Internship did – despite the Fox comedy having a big marketing budget and two A-Listers on board. The holdovers, five of which grossed more than $10 million this weekend, jockeyed for position, and After Earth and The Hangover Part III tried desperately to survive. The main result of the weekend, and this is really the key to the whole thing, is that none of the films in release this weekend should earn more than $15 million next weekend. That will put the very much anticipated Man of Steel and This Is the End in a Toy Story 3/Karate Kid position – where the box office is ready to be top heavy with a $100 million plus opener on top, matched with a strong $30 million earner in second, over a mid-June weekend.
Our number one movie is The Purge, the Universal film where the final product may not be overly smart, but the marketing and approach to release certainly were. The Purge, which cost $3 million to make and according to LA Times “a little over $20 million” to market domestically, blew apart expectations. The Ethan Hawke horror flick grossed $3.4 million on Thursday night alone. That’s more than its production budget and more than four times what the star-laden The Internship did in its previews. The Purge went on to earn $13.3 million Friday night ($16.7 million should you include those previews), and finished the weekend with a downright shocking $36.4 million. The Universal release was only out to 2,536 venues (830 fewer than The Internship and 1,235 fewer than Fast & Furious 6), so it had an out of this world venue average of $14,345. So, the "shared horror experience" was everywhere this weekend, which could be good for legs.
Jason Blum, the reigning king of the micro-budget horror flick, produced The Purge. This is the guy who spent $13 million on four Paranormal Activity films (the first one cost $15,000), which earned a combined $719 million worldwide. In 2012, Blum cast Ethan Hawke in the $3 million Sinister, which earned $80 million worldwide. Sinister is 63% fresh at RottenTomatoes - and horror and fresh are two words that often don’t go together. Sinister was released on home video in February of 2013, and gave audiences faith in Ethan Hawke as a horror-lead (he also did the fresh vampire flick Daybreakers). The Purge also had a great, fairly simple premise that was easy to sell – society allows 12 hours where anything goes, including murder. I have a friend that was pushing me to see this trailer six weeks ago, and this is not a typical first-night horror goer. Had reviews been better (The Purge is currently 41% fresh, with top critics way down at 21%), I think The Purge could have done even better.