Though not exactly the kind of box office rebound that will solve the recent revenue plunge, two opening films showed signs of life yesterday. In the top two, Universal’s “Lucy,” with Scarlett Johansson in an action role, scored $17.1 million, while Paramount’s “Hercules” with Dwayne Johnson took in just over $11 million. The Top 10 as a whole though showed the ongoing weakness: the $45 million total, despite three new wide releases, was no better than last Friday, and down 12% from last year.
Johansson joins fellow actresses Angelina Jolie, Shailene Woodley, Jennifer Lawrence and Sandra Bullock in opening at number one within the last year. Playing a young woman on the run after someone plants superhuman-making drugs on her, it is by far the best opening for Johansson in the lead, though she has smartly enhanced her appeal by appearances in several Marvel blockbusters. The worrisome sign, though, is the poor C+ Cinemascore, so the rest of the weekend’s take will be a better indication of the film’s longterm prospects. This French production (Luc Besson made it mainly in Paris with a mostly European crew) is reminiscent of the director’s breakout international success “La Femme Nikita” nearly 25 years ago, long before he became one of the most successful international producers.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is no stranger to action of course, with a worldwide following that justified the $100 million expense for this latest go-round with “Hercules” (Millennium and Kellan Lutz came up short with “The Legend of Hercules” earlier). Shot in Hungary — likely to reduce costs — by Brett Ratner, another action veteran, this was made for a worldwide audience which will be needed to make its money back.
Rob Reiner’s “And So It Goes” with Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton, the other new wide release (the second from new formed Clarius) came it at #7 in far fewer (1,762) theaters than the top two. Aimed at currently underserved older audiences, it grossed $1,361,000.
Last week’s openers collapsed, allowing “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” (20th Century Fox) to come in #3 at $4.7 million despite again falling over 50%. Dropping more were number four “The Purge: Anarchy” (Universal), at $3.4 million, number five “Planes: Fire and Rescue” (Buena Vista), $2,763,000, and number six “Sex Tape” (Sony), at $1.9 million, all of which opened last week.
Rounding out the Top 10: number eight “Transformers: Age of Extinction” (Paramount) at $1.3 million, number nine “Tammy” (Universal) at $1,060,000, and number 10 “22 Jump Street” (Sony) at $1 million.