So many movies to see!!

Weekend Box Office: Lucy Decks Hercules

A chemically smarted-up party girl sideswiped Zeus’ son this weekend at the North American box office as the new Scarlett Johansson action flick Lucy debuted with big numbers in the number one spot. The Universal release beat fellow new arrival Hercules for the top spot while sending last week’s champ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes down to third. A third wide release, the adult comedy And So It Goes, was DOA in eighth place. Overall business continued to be down in the dumps as evidenced by the 13% decline from last year at this time when The Wolverine opened at number one with $53 million.

Budgeted at a modest $40 million, Lucy arrived on 3,173 screens this past Friday to earn a big $44 million in its first three days. The film stars Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman and was directed by Luc Besson. The opening was a career best for both Johannson (as the lead) and Besson (for a directorial effort). The opening also proved that Johansson could open an action flick without the assist of her fellow Avengers.

The film met with mixed reviews (58% Rotten Tomatoes approval rating, 61/100 Metacritic) from critics while ticket buyers polled by CinemaScore were even less impressed. They gave the film a “C+” rating, which may translate into bad word-of-mouth and a short -but profitable- theatrical run for Lucy. The film also faces fierce competition starting on Thursday night with the arrival of fellow sci-fi action epic Guardians of the Galaxy.

Dwayne Johnson returned to screens this weekend with his latest big budget action flick Hercules. The second film this year to focus on the legendary Son of Zeus, Hercules earned a decent $29 million in its first three days on 3,595 screens. The opening was $11 million more than The Legend of Hercules earned in its entire domestic run this past January.

The new Hercules co-stars John Hurt, IanMcShane, Rufus Sewell, Joseph Fiennes and was directed by Rush Hour’s Brett Ratner. Reviews were okay for the $100 million Paramount/MGM co-production. Critics gave the film a 63% approval on Rotten Tomatoes (46/100 on Rotten Tomatoes) while ticket buyers gave it a “B+” rating on CinemaScore. The film opened in a few overseas markets where it earned $28 million.

The third wide release for the weekend was the Clarius Entertainment release of And So It Goes. The Rob Reiner comedy/drama starring Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton opened on 1,762 screens where it grossed a dismal $4.5 million. Released as counterprogramming for the likes of Lucy and Hercules, the film received terrible reviews (15% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 39/100 on Metacritic) from critics but kinder notices from CinemaScore pollsters. They gave the film a “B+” rating. The film may have fared better than it did had Clarius actually advertised the film. I can’t recall a single TV ad for this film in the days and weeks leading up to its release.

After ruling the box office planet for the past two weeks Fox’s hit Dawn of the Planet of the Apes stepped aside for the new fantasy offerings entering the marketplace and dropped to third. The Matt Reeves-directed hit fell by 55% in its third weekend on 3,668 screens to earn $16.4 million. To date, the domestic haul for Caesar’s latest adventure has earned $172 million. The film will eclipse the $176 million earned by Rise of the Planet of the Apes this week and is still on course for the $210 million mark. Overseas totals currently stand at $182 million.

Dropping 67% in its second weekend to land in fourth place was Universal’s The Purge: Anarchy with $9.8 million from 2,856 screens. After ten days, the micro-budgeted thriller has earned $51.2 million and should wind down its run with $65 million. The estimated final domestic total would be right in line what the first Purge earned a year ago, so you know what that means: a third Purge is most likely on the docket for next summer.

Rounding out the top five is Disney’s animated sequel Planes: Fire and Rescue with $9.3 million from 3,839 theaters. Off 47%, Fire and Rescue has earned $35.1 million after ten days and should reach $50-55 million by the end of its run, roughly 40% lower than the first Planes earned a year ago. Overseas totals currently stand at $21 million.

The remainder of the top ten were the following:

Sex Tape (Sony) $5.9 million (-59%); $26.8 million
Transformers: Age of Extinction (Para) $4.6 million (-53%); $236 million
And So It Goes (CE) $4.5 million
Tammy (Warner) $3.4 million (-54%); $78 million
A Most Wanted Man (Roadside Attractions) $2.7 million (NEW)

The new film featuring the final leading role for Phillip Seymour-Hoffman launched impressively on 361 screens this weekend to land in the number ten spot.

Next week sees the long-awaited arrival of Disney/Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy while Universal opens the James Brown biopic Get On Up. There is no question that Guardians will open at number one but now the question remains just how high will the sci-fi comedy fly.