2 Guns Mows Down Smurfs at the Box Office
By John Hamann
August 4, 2013
Smurfs 2 opened at the box office in third this weekend, and there was much joy throughout the land.
It should have been an easy weekend for Smurfs 2 to open at #1, as the other opener, 2 Guns, stars Mr. Reliable, Denzel Washington, so all the Smurfs had to do was open beyond $25 million. Denzel may be one of Hollywood’s most consistent stars, but he has only had four films open to more than $25 million prior to this weekend; the original Smurfs debuted to $35.6 million, and sequels generally tend to open larger than their originals. Not this time, as Sony chose to open Smurfs 2 on Wednesday for a reason not easily ascertainable at this time. In the end, Sony produces a bad film that will end up with bad box office news, at least on the domestic side. However, with Smurfs 2, Sony isn’t too concerned with domestic audiences – they are three times as concerned about overseas kids.
Our number one film over this notoriously slower August weekend is 2 Guns, the adult-oriented action-packed release from Universal, that studio that has had a number one film a massive six times over the 2013 summer season, a feat the studio accomplished only three times last year (they could make it seven times when Kick-Ass 2 opens on August 16th). 2 Guns was never supposed to be massive, and it wasn’t. The Denzel Washington/Mark Wahlberg starrer opened to $1.3 million from Thursday previews, and when added to opening day, 2 Guns managed to pull in $10 million. Over the weekend proper, 2 Guns managed a decent if not spectacular $27.4 million from 3,025 venues. It earned a venue average of $9,045, and cost Universal and partners $61 million to produce after tax incentives (why the state of Louisiana gives up $20 million for a movie to shoot there escapes me, but that’s another column). For Washington, 2 Guns opened to the plus side of his wheelhouse, as he has had 13 films open between $16 and $25 million over his illustrious career. 2 Guns doesn’t quite get to the heights of Inside Man ($29 million opening), The Book of Eli ($32.8 million), Safe House (40.2 million) or American Gangster ($43.6 million opening), which may disappoint Universal somewhat, as three of those four top grossers for Denzel were Universal releases. For Mark Wahlberg, the debut is decent, getting past his last film, Pain & Gain ($20.2 million), as well as 2012’s Contraband ($24.3 million opening), where Wahlberg also worked with his 2 Guns director, Baltasar Kormákur.
Reviews and future prospects for 2 Guns are both mixed at best. RottenTomatoes counted 104 total reviews at the time of this writing, of which 60 were fresh, leading to a slightly rotten score of 58%. That score is on par with some of Denzel’s other more action oriented releases, like Safe House (53%), The Book of Eli (48%) and The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (50%). All of those films performed well both domestically and overseas, which leaves some fair prospects for 2 Guns given the movie’s budget. Should 2 Guns earn $75 million domestically, it will then likely earn at least $50 million overseas, returning a profit eventually for the studio. A winning formula in Hollywood is Denzel Washington plus a $60 to $80 million budget. You can almost take it to the bank that such a project will profit.