Weekend Wrap-Up

Elysium Number One but Millers True Winner

By John Hamann

August 11, 2013

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For once, a Wednesday opening makes sense. Even though We’re the Millers may not be box office champ this weekend, the Warner Bros. release is the best investment of the new openers. If I had said that a month ago, I would have checked myself into the asylum. Back then, I thought Elysium was the surest best in town.

It’s a busy box office weekend. Four openers faced off, with two debuting on Wednesday, and the other two getting their start on Friday. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters and We’re the Millers opened on Wednesday. Percy Jackson wanted some distance from Disney’s Friday opener Planes (despite being invisible), and We’re the Millers wanted some distance from Elysium, the film everyone thought had the biggest chance to break out. With 2 Guns not burning down the box office house last weekend and The Smurfs 2 imploding domestically, the box office was wide open for a breakout success. Unfortunately it didn’t happen, as only one of the new releases was able to break the $30 million dollar plateau, at least over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of the weekend. There’s not a lot of revenue difference between the #1 one and #3 films at the box office, but we have big differences in costs. In one case, we even have what is hopefully large damage to a very successful brand.


Our number one film, at least over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of the weekend, is Elysium, the new film from Neil Blomkamp, who gave us District 9 (and we should have returned the favor with an Oscar, but that never goes right). District 9 was the epic, $30 million film from a brand new visionary. It was 90% fresh at RottenTomatoes and opened to $37.4 million over an August weekend in 2009, going on to earn $210 million worldwide. Given that Elysium was Blomkamp’s follow up to District 9, this time with a much bigger budget and two A-list stars in Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, a month ago this new release was set to rip up the box office. However, a poor marketing campaign from Sony and so-so reviews kept buzz at bay for Elysium, and the result this weekend is less than dramatic.

Elysium opened to $1.6 million from Thursday previews, a number that was never going to be good enough for the movie to break out. 2 Guns earned $1.3 million from previews the weekend before, and other releases this summer have certainly seen bigger results from a Thursday late night screenings, like World War Z ($3.6 million), Pacific Rim ($3.6 million) and even The Great Gatsby ($3.2 million). Without a single showing on Friday, we knew that Elysium was not going to be very big, and at best would struggle to make Sony’s low-ball estimate of $35 million. The Friday number was reported at $11.2 million; however, once we take the Thursday grosses out, it means that Elysium failed to crack the $10 million mark on Friday, which means more disappointment for Sony. The weekend figure for Elysium came in at $30.5 million from 3,284 screens, giving the sci-fi actioner a venue average of $9,287, and disappointing numbers across the board.

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