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‘2 Guns’ Blasts Mild August Weekend; ‘Smurfs 2’ Lags Stateside; ‘Conjuring’ Most Profitable Movie Ever Made?

'2 Guns' Blasts Mild August Weekend; 'Smurfs 2' Lags Stateside; 'Conjuring' Most Profitable Movie Ever Made?

Universal returned to the #1 spot with Denzel Washington-Mark Wahlberg actioner “2 Guns,” the latest in the studio’s diverse string of successful openings, after an expensive detour with the dreadful opening of “R.I.P.D.” “2 Guns” led a top 10 that totaled about $120 million in gross, a jump of $8 million over last year. Meantime, the domestic take for “The Smurfs 2” disappointed, although Sony reports better international returns.

In the end, July totaled (inflation unadjusted) the second highest-grossing month ever. While that may sound encouraging, the total of around $1.2 billion came with new production budgets totaling $1,050,000,000. The record month of July 2008’s gross, $1,250,000,000, came with new releases costing $733 million, a much lower figure. Add to July’s top ten releases worldwide the  additional marketing expense of $100 million or more, and the question of whether this has been a truly successful summer won’t be answered until lagging foreign grosses are factored in. So far this summer has been a high-risk, not-so-high reward season, with several films enjoying great success.

The Spectacular Now” (A24) became the fourth strong limited opening in recent weeks with a $200,000 take in four New York/Los Angeles theaters. But the biggest news on the limited front came from Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” (Sony Pictures Classics), which grossed over $2 million in only 48 theaters, with a per screen average only slightly less despite being on 44 more screens. This looks now to be a breakout crossover hit on the level of his “Midnight in Paris.”

Two other already wider releases expanded a bit, but their order flipped. Fox Searchlight’s “The Way, Way Back” came in #11, with $2,850,000 in 1,001 theaters, dropping only 17% from last weekend with only a small increase in total runs. Last weekend’s #10 film “Fruitvale Station” (Weinstein) didn’t hold as well. It grossed $2,700,000 in 1,086 theaters, down 41% with only 22 more theaters this weekend, coming in #12.

1. 2 Guns (Universal/EOne in Canada) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 55

$27,400,000 in 3,025 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $9,045; Cumulative: $27,400,000

A solid if not spectacular start for this crime actioner, with two stars from earlier similar hits pairing for the first time at a level not at their best, but still respectable. Playing at fewer theaters than any of the other top 6 films this week, and fewer than most films that hit #1, without the benefit of 3-D surcharges, this $61 million independent (Emmet/Furia Films) production looks to fall short of the $100 million+ results of Washington’s two best action films recently (the surprisingly strong “Safe House” and the more broadly appealing “American Gangster”), but might with good word of mouth (Cinemascore was B+) get close to his most recent film, his Oscar-nominated “Flight.” For Wahlberg, it is his best 2013 opening after the disastrous “Broken City” and the controversial “Pain and Gain.”

It should be a boost for Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur, whose eclectic career has seen him both a film festival favorite for his home country films (“The Deep” made the list of nine finalists for the 2012 Foreign Language Oscar) but also one previous studio production, “Contraband,” also with Wahlberg, which opened to $24 million on its way to a $66 million domestic take. That $24 million film established his commercial bonafides. This, still less expensive than most star-driven releases, looks to push him further up in demand.

Among the six credited producers is Marc Platt, whose varied slate in recent years has include “Drive,” “Nine,” “Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World” and “Rachel Getting Married.”

What comes next: Sony is the lead distributor for this overseas, although it is being handled by multiple companies. Openings are scattered throughout the next few months, with Japan not until November.

2. The Wolverine (20th Century-Fox) Week 2 – Last weekend  #1

$21,725,000 (-59%) in 3,924 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $5,536; Cumulative: $93,059,000

A big drop, but still managed to hold on to second place. The falloff is comparable to the non-Hugh Jackman “X-Men: First Class” two years ago, but better than the star’s last Wolverine starrer in 2009. However the actual gross is below both for their second weekends, despite 3-D surcharges. This is doing somewhat better internationally, with Japan, likely its biggest foreign territory, not set to open until September.

What comes next: Fox is committed to the series continuing, but costs (this one cost $120 million) could start to become an issue. Wolevrine turns up for the 7th time in Bryan Singer’s upcoming “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”

3. The Smurfs 2 (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Criticwire: D+; Metacritic:

$18,200,000 in 3,866 theaters; PSA: $4,708; Cumulative: $27,761,000

Sony justifiably wants the headline to be the international performance for this cartoon feature, which in its previous entry grossed 75% of its $563 million take internationally. The worldwide total is over $80 million, with many territories yet to open, many of those on board already exceeding the grosses of the first one, and opening #1 in most places.

The domestic tale is different. Even with opening two days earlier, the five-day total is 25% below what “The Smurfs” did for its initial three days, in contrast to many animated sequels which exceed the gross of the original. Its audience response seems to be OK (Cinemascore A-, a grade also scored by underperforming “Turbo”). This suffers from animation overload this summer, as well as not appealing to older children and adults at the level of “Despicable Me 2” and others.

What comes next: With another animation release opening Friday and a $100 million+ cost, Sony is going to need all those foreign returns to get this anything close to the money-maker the previous version was.

4. The Conjuring (Warner Bros.) Week 3 – Last weekend #2

$13,660,000 (-38%) in 3,115 theaters (+ 93); PSA: $4,385; Cumulative: $108,590,000

When the history of the summer of 2013 is told, this $20 million budget film will likely have the best return to cost of any release, as well as out-grossing films several films six times or more expensive. The small drop this weekend — horror-related films tend to fall more quickly than other genres — shows that this is reaching a wider audience than at first blush, with strong word of mouth (a rare commodity this summer) kicking in.

What comes next: Most of international has yet to open (it will roll out throughout August and September), but this could approach $200 million domestically, so a comparable or better result overseas would make this (in unadjusted figures) one of the most profitable films ever made.

5. Despicable Me 2 (Universal) Week 5 – Last weekend #3

$10,400,000 (-37%) in 3,207 theaters (-269); PSA: $3,240; Cumulative: $326,700,000

Universal says this has become its most profitable film ever (though “E.T.” and others with figures adjusted actually were bigger hits) and this blockbuster continues to soar both domestically with another small drop against intense animated competition, and continues to thrive overseas. Worldwide, it’s up to $713 million, with several major territories still to open and business continuing to thrive across the board.

What comes next: Likely to get to #2 for the year so far (behind mighty “Iron Man 3”) and reach at least $900 million, this has hit on all cylinders and exceeded expectations.

6. Grown Ups 2 (Sony) Week 4 – Last weekend #5

$8,100,000 (-30%) in 3,075 theaters (-183); PSA: $2,634; Cumulative: $116,400,000

Look at that small drop — incredible for a poorly reviewed Adam Sandler comedy that looked up front like a serviceable but not exceptional performer. Now it has turned into a significant hit, with more than $150 million domestically. The public likes it, and has provided Sony with one of its few bright spots this summer.

What comes next: Most of the rest of the world has yet to open, so this has a long way to go before it’s through. Making a good profit on its $80 million cost (double that of “The Heat,” the year’s top comedy) seems assured.

7. Turbo (20th Century-Fox) Week 3 – Last weekend #4

$6,400,000 (-53%) in 2,985 theaters (-824); PSA: $2,144; Cumulative: $69,479,000

While “Smurfs 2” was disappointing, it still took a bite out of the struggling “Turbo,” which fell more than the better animated films do (they tend to hold stronger than other releases). Foreign is not quite equal at this point (recently, that has been the source of the big majority of the total gross for animation), but multiple major territories have yet to open. Dreamworks Animation (its producer) says this will show a small profit, below their expectations, but it has some way to go before achieving that.

What comes next: With Disney’s “Planes” opening this week, competition keeps on coming.

8. Red 2 (Lionsgate) Week 3 – Last weekend #6

$5,650,000 (-40%) in 2,755 theaters (-261); PSA: $2,051; Cumulative: $45,153,000

A respectable hold for the third weekend of this adult action sequel that though it hasn’t done as well as hoped could stick around a bit longer than it initially appeared capable of doing.

What comes next: Even with most of the world still ahead, this is unlikely to cover its $84 million cost.

9. The Heat (20th Century-Fox) Week 6 – Last weekend #8

$4,725,000 (-32%) in,2,074 theaters (-310); PSA: $2,278; Cumulative: $149,566,000

Falling again less than a third, sticking around the top 10 longer than many far more expensive films, “The Heat” is one of the biggest successes of the summer domestically and another indication that developing films with female stars can pay off, if only studio bosses can think outside the box once in a while.

What comes next: Probably will fall a little short of “Bridesmaids”‘ $169-million domestic take, but it should edge out “Grown Ups 2” as the biggest comedy of the summer

10. Pacific Rim (Warner Bros.) Week 4 – Last weekend #7

$4,570,000 (-41%) in 1,803 theaters (799-)’ PSA: $2,535; Cumulative: $92,961,000

China opened strong for this on Wednesday, and with Japan expected to be huge, and Brazil and Spain still to open, this could break even or even turn a profit even as it struggles to hit $100 million in North America.

What comes next: There’s early speculation about a sequel.

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