In the battle between two pervasive movie myths, audiences chose Lucy’s ludicrous take on the powers unleashed by using 100 percent of the human brain, leaving Hercules’ revisionist version of the Greek hero in second place. Lucy’s $44 million haul was certainly helped along by Scarlett Johansson’s increased profile as an action star in the Marvel universe, as well as a trailer that reassured audiences that any science-fiction leaps of faith would be explained by Morgan Freeman, thus making them sound perfectly reasonable. But with its self-aware, future-stoner-classic visual flair from director Luc Besson (who scored his highest opening ever) it also promised a bit of escapist fun amid an especially dour summer. Unfortunately, a CinemaScore of C+ suggests not everyone left feeling that way, possibly because they ignored the film’s warnings and used more than 10 percent of their own brains to watch it.
The real surprise of the weekend was that a movie in which The Rock stars as a Greek demigod famed for slaying giant monsters would turn out to be the pragmatic buzzkill. And yet, the Brett Ratner-directed reimagining, like Hercules himself, tried selling audiences on the legend, with a trailer that found Dwayne Johnson slaughtering and wearing as many animals as he could find, suggesting that its $29 million take was the result of moviegoers rejecting what they believed to be the digital lie of yet another generic, CGI swords-and-sandals epic. It’s an open question as to whether more would have come had they known Hercules actually subverts that notion, revealing Hercules to be just a regular guy who works out a lot and has daddy issues. But it seems clear that Johnson is now standing before a mirror, sadly boxing away the animal hats he might have worn for a sequel.
Elsewhere, the myth that sixtysomething actors can maintain their dignity in a romantic comedy was severely tested by the widower-meet-cute And So It Goes for an eighth-place, $4.5 million debut. Meanwhile, the sad-in-different-ways A Most Wanted Man helped audiences through their own grief over Philip Seymour Hoffman, with the John Le Carré thriller landing an impressive tenth-place finish of $2.7 million in just 361 theaters. That was a much better per-screen average than The Fluffy Movie, in which comedian Gabriel Iglesias undertook the Seven Labours of making broadly popular stand-up comedy for $3,042 per each of its 432 theaters.
But the weekend’s biggest per-screen hit was Magic In The Moonlight, besting Boyhood—which remains a summer sleeper, with $16,121 per each of its newly expanded, 107 screens—to take in $426,000 in 17 theaters, for a per-screen average of $25,059. It seems the belief that Woody Allen’s personal scandals would keep audiences away from his movies may have been the weekend’s biggest myth.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.