WINNER OF THE WEEK: Despicable Me 2: Despite the entry of two high-profile newcomers into the multiplex sweepstakes, the family-friendly cartoon held the top spot in its second week, earning another estimated $44.8 million, for a 12-day total of $229.2 million. It’s already the sixth-highest grossing movie of 2013, and within days, it’ll be challenging Monsters University for third place.
LOSERS OF THE WEEK: Adam Sandler and Guillermo del Toro. Granted, both are losers whose movies made about $40 million each this weekend. Sandler, whose usual surefire formula for man-child comedy has been slipping lately, seems to have found a hit again with his first-ever sequel, Grown Ups 2. The movie debuted in second place with an estimated $42.5 million, about what was expected. Once again, he’s proved critic-proof, as the film’s horrible reviews did not seem to dent the film’s box office impact in the least.
As for del Toro, Pacific Rim was a big gamble that would either prove that the fantasy filmmaker is a big brand name who can create compelling stories that reach even beyond his hardcore geek fanbase – or else prove that he shouldn’t be directing big-budget pictures unless they’re sequels like Blade 2. An original giant-monsters-vs.-robots epic, Pacific Rim earned about what pundits expected, opening in third place with an estimated $38.3 million. Also as expected, it did much better abroad, with an estimated $53.0 million, where it has a much better chance of recouping its estimated $190 million cost. So, even with stellar word-of-mouth, it couldn’t beat a week-old cartoon or a poorly reviewed Adam Sandler comedy (no doubt Grown Ups and Pacific Rim were competing for much of the same young male audience). So jury’s still out on whether to call this expensive movie a flop for living up to its modest expectations.
Rounding out the top five: The Heat earned another estimated $14.0 million, a good number considering it was competing against Sandler for the raunchy-comedy audience. In three weeks, the female buddy-cop comedy has earned an $112.4 million. After its disastrous debut last week, The Lone Ranger fell three slots and finished fifth with an estimated $11.1 million, attracting an older audience of the sort that doesn’t rush out to see what the hype is about the first weekend.
SHOOTING SCHEDULE: Fruitvale Station, a drama based on the real-life shooting of an unarmed black man in an Oakland, California public transit station, had the bad fortune – or good fortune, perhaps – to open on the same weekend that George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of unarmed Trayvon Martin in Florida. The movie opened on just seven screens but earned a solid $377,285, averaging a commanding $53,898 per screen. (Grown Ups 2, which had the highest per-screen average among wide releases, earned $12,174 per screen.) The Weinstein Company is an organization that seldom lets a good controversy go to waste, so expect Fruitvale to beef up its expansion plans over the next couple of weekends.