If there's one thing the haves and the have nots can agree on, it's that Matt Damon looks cool with a bald head, a big gun, and an exoskeleton-harness thingie grafted onto his spinal cord. Elysium, Neil Blomkamp's shoot-em-up allegory, blasted its way to a $30 million opening, fighting off no less than three wide-release competitors to win the weekend. The bean-counters haven't revealed what percentage of that gross came from cold-hearted, poor-people-hating one-percenters, who surely somehow used their media clout and buying power to lower the film's Cinemascore to a less-than-ecstatic "B." (All of the weekend's also-rans fared better, probably because they didn't dare damn the monied powers that be by casting Jodie Foster with a weird accent as their onscreen surrogate.) Though strong enough to trump the competition, Elysium's take was notably less than the $37 million Blomkamp's debut, District 9, made over the same weekend in 2009. Given that the earlier film cost just $30 million compared to Elysium's hefty $115 million price rage—and that it didn't star Damon or anyone else American moviegoers had really heard of—Sony is probably looking at this as something of a Pyrrhic victory.
When considering the ratio of actual grosses to expected ones, We're The Millers has to be seen as the stealth box-office champ of the weekend. The road-trip comedy came in second with $38 million, some of which it picked up on Wednesday and Thursday. Opening softer were the other two major releases, both geared to younger audiences. The widely panned Cars spinoff Planes lifted off with just $22.5 million, though that's better than Disney might have hoped for a film that was originally slated to go direct-to-DVD. Bringing up the rear, to absolutely no one's surprise, was Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters, a sequel no one asked for to a film no one loved. The YA adaptation drew just $14.6 million—less than half of what its predecessor made 3.5 years ago. For his next feat of strength, the titular demigod—or Harry Notter, as we've chosen to derisively nickname him—will somehow manage to appear in another sequel.
Overseas, where Hollywood is increasingly fighting its real battles for box-office dominance, The Smurfs 2 drew another $34.6 million from moviegoers who apparently hate their own eyes and ears. Meanwhile, while The Wolverine is shaping up be the low domestic grosser of the X-Men series, it's also now on course to be the biggest international hit of the series. The Japan-set sequel opens in Japan soon—though given that the seemingly Japan-friendly Pacific Rim just bombed there with a $3 million opening, Fox execs shouldn't count their mutant super-soldiers before they emerge from the adamantium tanks. Back in the States, Chennai Express scored the biggest American opening of any Bollywood movie ever ($2.2 million at 196 locations), while Sundance indies Lovelace ($184,000 on 118 screens) and In A World… ($71 million on screens) didn't make much of a dent. With summer winding down, Mud ($21 million) remains the indie success story of the year, though that will probably change once Blue Jasmine ($2.5 million on 116 screens) goes wide in a couple weeks.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.
Submit your Newswire tips here