Box office: ‘The Purge’ surges to surprising $16.7 million on Friday

In one of the biggest box office shockers so far this year, the low-budget thriller “The Purge” got plenty of genre fans out of the house Friday night, surprising many by picking up a huge $16.7 million. 

Easily surpassing fellow opener “The Internship,” “Purge” will likely pick up around $38 million for the three-day period, well ahead of expectations.

The futuristic home invasion thriller stars Ethan Hawke (also currently starring in the slightly different “Before Midnight”) and “Game of Thrones” star Lena Headey, and reportedly only cost $3 million to produce, making it an unqualified success story after just one day in theaters. 

Meanwhile, newcomer comedy “The Internship,” starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, pulled in a decent $6.5 million, and will be neck-and-neck with holdover “Fast & Furious 6” (which picked up another $6.1 million) for the No. 2 spot this weekend. Both films will earn somewhere around $19 million. 

“Fast 6” has already revved up a whopping $189.2 million in North America, and will easily cross the $200 million mark this weekend. Worldwide, the franchise film — starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Dwayne Johnson — has already earned over $500 million

Magic heist thriller “Now You See Me” appeared at No. 4, conjuring up $6 million, bringing its domestic total to $47.9 million.

The animated epic “Epic” picked up another $3.6 million, rounding out the top five. Its domestic total now stands at a solid $75.6 million. 

In the specialty side of things, Joss Whedon’s micro-budgeted Shakespeare adaptation “Much Ado About Nothing” made unite a to-do, earning a staggering $70,984 from just five theaters, averaging $14,918 per screen. It opens wider later in the month.

Next week brings the Superman reboot and expected box office juggernaut “Man of Steel,” plus the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy “This Is the End,” and in select markets, Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring,” starring Emma Watson.

Look for complete weekend estimates tomorrow on HitFix.