One could argue it was the under-performance of “The Island” that led Michael Bay into the world of “Transformers” but whatever it was, Bay has not made a film outside of that franchise in eight years. The three films in that series collected $2.6 billion worldwide, however, giving him the freedom to take another risk in “Pain & Gain.” And one week before the beginning of summer (considered a dumping ground before the big guns come out to play), the picture was able to capitalize on a tidy $20 million opening.
The budget for “Pain & Gain” reported at $26 million, though you wonder how much of the gross is going Paramount‘s way, considering Dwayne Johnson and Mark Wahlberg trimmed their fees heavily for the sake of back-end dollars. It’s something of a surprise that the studio couldn’t convince more audiences to sample the film, given that both Johnson and Wahlberg have collected four $100 million global grossers in the last three years each (Wahlberg leading “Ted” to half a billion last year). But this film was what it was: a two-hour-plus R-rated film about brutality and violence coming out a week before a planet-smashing blockbuster. All things considered, unless you’re a wide-appeal blockbuster, a la “Fast Five,” it’s not the best weekend to hit theaters.
While Paramount showcased a colorful ad campaign for the film, they had to know it would be unwise to sink too much cash into pushing it. This was more of a favor to Bay for signing on to a fourth “Transformers” film (oh good, we needed that), and Paramount, who used to control the distribution rights to the ‘Iron Man‘ series, had to know they were a small fish, and “Iron Man 3” was ready to soak up every single demographic possible the very next weekend. To prove that point, “Iron Man 3” has already been unleashed overseas, and based on initial results — it has broken all-time opening weekend records in Argentina, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore in addition to opening bigger than “The Avengers” in Australia/New Zealand, India, Scandanavia, Netherlands, Hungary and Romania — it’s gonna be huge. The movie has taken a total of $195 million in overseas tickets alone, which means it’s tracking to be another billion dollar earner for Marvel.
Moving down to second was “Oblivion,” suggesting that audience word-of-mouth was reflected in last weekend’s B- Cinemascore. Twisty sci-fi remains a crapshoot for studios, and this is a film that begins with a massive voiceover exposition dump and features several sequences driven by silence and minimal action. Tarkovsky it ain’t, but when the young-male-demographic competition is a big, loud Michael Bay film, you’re bound to lose a bit of that audience. Normally the hopes would be that a third weekend would steady the bleeding of a sharp second weekend drop, but, again, there’s “Iron Man 3,” so “Oblivion” might struggle to reach $100 million in America.
“42” continued to perform strongly in weekend three, as it has played to a wide demographic thus far. By next weekend, its gross could surpass the $75 million taken in by “Moneyball,” making it the second highest-grossing baseball film of all-time domestically. Number one on that list? 1992’s “A League of Their Own” at $107 million. Sisters are doin’ it for themselves, yo.
Debuting like the embarrassment it seems to be was “The Big Wedding,” which couldn’t draw any enthusiasm despite its star-studded cast ported over from 2004. Millennium Films threw down $35 million to load this film with a cast that included Robert De Niro, Susan Sarandon, Diane Keaton, Katherine Heigl, Topher Grace and Robin Williams, ignoring the fact that they all tend to make this same movie on their own practically once every two years; when your ads look like a greatest hits collection of some of the worst romantic comedies of the last decade, there’s really no added motivation to see it. Lionsgate slotted this for a winter release date originally, though they claim they acquired the picture for only $10 million, or, roughly, $10 million too much.
Look at “The Croods,” nutting up to spend its sixth week in the top five. These things tend to have legs, though you could point to an absolutely barren wasteland for kiddie programming this spring (though have you talked to a seven-year-old lately who WASN’T thrilled for “The Big Wedding”?). The picture could finish around $180-$190 million stateside, and could soon cross half a billion worldwide. Right underneath is “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” though it’s hard to imagine that demographic still settling for this with “Iron Man 3” on the horizon. The first ‘Joe’ cost $175 million and landed at $300 million worldwide, and this one apparently cost $135 million to gross around $330 million global as it nears the end of its run. Something to build on, perhaps.
“Scary Movie 5” looks like it will tuck in its tail and scamper out of theaters quickly, though the $20 million-budgeted film is nearing $30 million in gross, and this sort of garbage tends to do well on DVD. You’ve been warned. “Olympus Has Fallen” continues to head towards $100 million, while “The Place Beyond the Pines” continues to show the heat for the film centered around the arthouse crowd for the most part. Which reminds us: even though it’s the start of the summer movie season, please support your local arthouse theater.
1. Murder 4 Laffs (Paramount) – $20.5 million
2. Oblivion (Universal) – $17 million ($64 mil.)
3. 42 (Warner Bros.) – $10.2 million ($69 mil.)
4. The Big Wedding (Lionsgate) – $7.5 million
5. The Croods (Fox) – $6.4 million ($163 mil.)
6. G.I. Joe: Sure, We’ll Do Another (Paramount) – $3.6 million ($116.3 mil.)
7. Scary Movie 5 (The Weinstein Company) – $3.4 million ($27.4 mil.)
8. Olympus Has Oopsied (FilmDistrict) – $2.7 million ($93 mil.)
9. The Place Beyond The Pines (Focus) – $2.6 million ($16.2 mil.)
10. Jurassic Park 3D (Universal) – $2.3 million ($42 mil.)