Box Office: ‘The Purge’ earned 12 times its budget this weekend, Internship bombs

I don’t pretend to understand the appeal of horror movies, but at this point it seems clear that horror fans are the most enthusiastic and least discerning of all moviegoers, which coincidentally are the exact qualities I’m looking for in a woman. The Purge didn’t look very good and by most accounts it wasn’t, but it had people with knives in creepy masks, and people with knives in creepy masks is enough. Reportedly produced for $3 million, it earned $36.4 million in its debut this weekend. I’m not good at math, but I’m pretty sure that’s, like, a thousand some percent of its budget. For comparison, After Earth cost $130 million to produce, and it earned $27.5 million in its opening last weekend.

Produced for just $3 million, The Purge debuted to a fantastic $36.4 million. That’s a record for original R-rated horror ahead of last year’s The Devil Inside ($33.7 million), which is particularly impressive considering the movie didn’t have a supernatural angle. [Editor’s note: Uhh… if you say so.] The Purge‘s opening was also twice as much as producer Jason Blum and star Ethan Hawke’s Sinister, which started off with $18 million last October.

Going in to the weekend, it looked like the best comparable title was The Strangers ($21 million), which opened around the same time in 2008 and also centered around a home invasion. The fact that The Purge wound up so much higher can be attributed to the movie’s unique, intriguing premise—what if all crime was legal for 12 hours once a year? Universal’s marketing team made the smart decision to hone in on this in all of their material, and as a result were able to expand the movie’s reach beyond the typical horror audience. According to Universal, that audience was 56 percent female and 56 percent under 25 years of age. [BoxOfficeMojo]

56 percent female and 56 percent under 25 years of age, eh? Looks like I just found a new place to pick up chicks. “Hey, girl, what would you do if true love was only legal for one day a year?”

Meanwhile, shock of all shocks, The Internship, which sounded so good, and cost a reported $58 million, managed only half of The Purge‘s take and landed all the way down in fourth, with $18.1 million. I like to imagine that upon hearing the news, Vince Vaughn shrugged, and managed “Huh? Oh. That sucks,” through a mouthful of bacon-wrapped scallops.

1. The Purge (Universal) – $36,379,000

2. Fast & Furious 6 (Universal) – $19,800,000 ($202,300,000)

3. Now You See Me (Lionsgate) – $19,500,000 ($29,254,674)

4. The Internship (Fox) – $18,100,000

5. Epic (Fox) – $12,100,000 ($84,155,000)

6. Star Trek Into Darkness (Paramount) – $11,700,000 ($200,140,000)

7. After Earth (Sony) – $11,200,000 ($46,592,000)

8. The Hangover Part III (Warner Bros.) – $7,380,000 ($102,374,000)

9. Iron Man 3 (Disney) – $5,787,000 ($394,316,000)

10. The Great Gatsby (Warner Bros.) – $4,230,000 ($136,175,000) [Indiewire]

Many factors kept The Internship from living up to its potential as a Wedding Crashers follow-up. In the immediate wake of Wedding Crashers, Wilson and Vaughn went on to find separate success (Vaughn more so than Wilson), but recent outings have been underwhelming commercially and critically. Instead of appearing to be a triumphant return to form, though, The Internship struggled to overcome cynicism surrounding it’s tie-in with Google. Throw in poor reviews and an odd PG-13 rating (compared to an “R” for Wedding Crashers) and The Internship ultimately fell a bit short. [BoxOfficeMojo]

Hey, here’s a wild idea: maybe next time, try getting a director who can actually do comedy. What was there in Shawn Levy‘s track record that convinced anyone that he should be making a Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson comedy? Date Night? Night at the Museum? Cheaper by the Dozen? Real Steel? The only way to make the Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson man-child shtick seem even less edgy than it already is to make it PG-13 and stick them with a director who makes kiddie movies. And as a man-child myself, I think I would be the target audience for this kind of movie so I should know. The studio comedy is in trouble if they can’t find a middle ground between the bland twat waftery of The Internship and the frat-pledge-trying-way-too-hard-to-be-edgy obnoxiousness of The Hangover 3. Something in between Vince Vaughn confusing “online” and “on-the-line” and a giraffe getting decapitated, say.

Fantasy Summer Box Office Standings:

Laremy (First overall pick)

1. Iron Man 3 – $175.3

2. Man of Steel (Bomb)

3. Epic: 33.5

4. 300: Rise of an Empire (release pushed back an entire year, just like when Laremy picked GI Joe: Retaliation last year. Man is the kiss of death)

Total: 209

Vince (2nd pick):

1. 6 Fast 6 Furious: 97.4

2. Pacific Rim

3. The Wolverine

4. We are the Millers (Bomb)

Total: 97.4

Bret (3rd pick)

1. Star Trek 2: 71

2. Despicable Me 2

3. Lone Ranger (Bomb)

4. After Earth: 27

Total: 98

Brendan (4th pick)

1. Man of Steel

2. Hangover 3: 41.7

3. The Internship: 18.1

4. The Great Gatsby (Bomb): $51 million on a $105 million budget, which equals 49 percent of budget, subtracted from 100 is 51.

Total: 111

Ben (5th):

1. Monsters University

2. Planes

3. World War Z

4. World War Z (Bomb)