Lucy Spanks Hercules
By John Hamann
July 27, 2014
While Lucy got off to a great start, it will be interesting to see where it ends up. Lucy received an unexpectedly low Cinemascore of only C+. Reviews were also mixed, but they definitely weren’t awful. Of the 114 reviews counted, 67 were positive and 47 negative, good for a just-rotten score of 59%. That Cinemascore has to be much more concerning for the studio, as it could affect word-of-mouth over its run. Lucy has been called daffy and idiotic, so maybe audiences are having a tougher time buying into the concept than critics.
The real winner here is Universal, a studio that stays completely hot, as they have been all year. Lone Survivor, Ride Along, Non-Stop, Neighbors and now Lucy have all opened at #1, and The Purge: Anarchy did quite well last weekend in second with $29.8 million. Universal’s low points have come with A Million Ways to Die in the West and Endless Love, but A Million Ways earned $80 million worldwide against a $40 million budget, and Endless Love earned $35 million worldwide against a $20 million budget. The successes have not been big $100 million gambles; they have all cost $50 million or less. The studio's current best, Neighbors, cost only $18 million to make and has a worldwide gross of $255 million. Lucy will continue that streak, as Johansson and Besson are both big hitters overseas, and Lucy should double its expected $125 million domestic gross overseas.
Finishing second is Brett Ratner and The Rock’s version of Hercules, following the Legend of Hercules flop served up by Renny Harlin and Kellan Lutz earlier this year. I would usually expect a Dwayne Johnson vehicle like this to break out, but audiences may be tiring of this kind of sword and sandals silliness. Following a Thursday preview that netted $2.1 million, Hercules fell well back of Lucy on Friday, pulling in $11.1 million, leaving it a surprising $6 million behind. Over entire three-day weekend, Hercules earned $29 million, still more than three times as much as the Renny Harlin version did when it opened to $8.9 million back in January.
Hercules received better reviews (64% fresh) and had a better Cinemascore (B+) than Lucy, but with the baggage from the previous release and a marketing campaign that failed to provide a money shot, even Hercules couldn’t overcome these drawbacks. Hercules cost Paramount $100 million to bring to the screen, but like Lucy, may have a better time of it overseas than it does stateside. Johnson, like Johansson, is a big hitter in international venues. Legend of Hercules finished with $18.8 million on the domestic front, but managed another $42 million overseas, as the story of Hercules is universal. Should this Hercules earn $75 million stateside, it will need $200 million overseas if it hopes to see a profit. I think it can make it. Early overseas returns are showing good traction - so far, the film has earned $28.7 from international theaters.
Finishing third is Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a very strong mid-season performer for 20th Century Fox. With the powerful action combo of Lucy and Hercules this weekend, Dawn got pushed to the side, taking in $16.4 million. That’s off a hefty 55% from its $36.3 million performance last weekend. The good news is that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has raised its domestic haul to $172.1 million, and had about $110 million in overseas sales prior to the start of the weekend. This one cost $170 million to bring to the screen, so it’s going to need a half billion worldwide to break even.