In the final weekend before Iron Man 3 kicks off the summer movie season in earnest, Michael Bay’s R-rated action comedy Pain & Gain topped a slow weekend at the box office with $20 million from 3,277 theaters, giving it an average of $6,103 per location. The Paramount film achieved only a fraction of the opening weekend grosses of Bay’s Transformers films, but it only cost a fraction — just $26 million — of those films as well. It’s well on its way to profitability.
Pain & Gain, which stars Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, redeemed both stars following unimpressive box office results for action films earlier this year. Wahlberg’s Broken City petered out with just $19.7 million, while Johnson’s Snitch fared only slightly better, grossing $42.1 million. While both those films had darker, more serious tones, Pain & Gain was marketed as a sunny, over-the-top black comedy. Unfortunately, audience reaction wasn’t particularly sunny. Polled moviegoers issued Pain & Gain a dreadful “C+” CinemaScore.
In second place, Tom Cruise’s sci-fi adventure Oblivion, which last week debuted with $37.1 million, dropped 53 percent to $17.4 million, giving it a 10-day total of $64.7 million. While the Universal film seems unlikely to reach Cruise’s one-time benchmark of $100 million domestically, its $134.1 million international total lifts prospects considerably. Still, a $198.8 million worldwide total versus a $120 million budget isn’t an incredible result after accounting for distribution and marketing costs.
Warner Bros.’ $40 million Jackie Robinson drama 42 scored another $10.7 million in its third weekend, representing a 40 percent decline. With a cumulative gross of $69.1 million so far, 42 is a big winner for Warner Bros., which badly needed a hit following flops like Beautiful Creatures, Bullet to the Head, and Jack the Giant Slayer. Yet most analysts expected the film, which earned an “A+” CinemaScore grade, to reach $100 million. That no longer seems plausible.
Star-studded romantic comedy The Big Wedding flopped in its opening weekend, with just $7.5 million from 2,633 theaters, giving it a sad $2,848 per theater average. The $35 million Lionsgate release got off to a weaker start than other recent wedding titles like The Five-Year Engagement, License to Wed, and The Wedding Date — and all of those were considered misfires upon release. The Big Wedding, which features performances by Robert De Niro, Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams, Diane Keaton, Amanda Seyfried, Katherine Heigl, Topher Grace, and Ben Barnes, garnered wretched reviews from most critics, and audiences, which were 77 percent female and 66 percent above the age of 30, gave it an ugly “C+” CinemaScore.
The Croods spent its sixth weekend in the Top 5 with $6.6 million (a 29 percent drop), lifting the colorful Stone Age comedy to $163 million total. The Fox-distributed film, produced by DreamWorks Animation for $135 million, has carried even more cash into its cave internationally, and this weekend it passed the $300 million mark. Worldwide, The Croods has earned a terrific $471 million, and it will zoom right past the half-billion mark some time in the next two weeks. Unsurprisingly, a sequel is already in the works.
1. Pain & Gain – $20 million
2. Oblivion – $17.4 million
3. 42 – $10.7 million
4. The Big Wedding – $7.5 million
5. The Croods – $6.6 million
Despite the success of films like The Croods, Identity Thief, and Oz The Great and Powerful, the first third of 2013 hasn’t been a particularly good one at the box office. For the year to date, both attendance and revenue at the U.S. box office are down 12 percent, and Hollywood is now turning its attention to potential blockbusters like Iron Man 3, Fast & Furious 6, and Man of Steel to turn this year’s prospects around.
Iron Man 3, at least, seems like a safe bet. The superhero sequel debuted this weekend in 42 overseas territories (about 79 percent of the international market), where it earned an incredible $195.3 million — a higher figure than The Avengers‘ $185.1 million start. That figure is even more impressive when your realize that Iron Man 3 has yet to open in powerhouse territories like China, Russia, and Germany. Iron Man 3 achieved the best opening weekend ever in a number of Asian countries (Hong Kong, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore), which is a testament to the continent’s booming box offices, but perhaps also to Disney’s efforts to tailor the picture to better appeal to Asian filmgoers. The film opens in the U.S. on Friday and is expected to open above $150 million.
Check back next weekend for the full box office coverage of Iron Man 3, and for more box office conversation, follow me on Twitter @gradywsmith.