This weekend had a battle on its hands. A very interesting battle. On one side, with his bulging muscles and ferocious roar, stood Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and his feature film Hercules on the Greek demigod. On the other side, with her stern gaze and kick-ass moves, stood Scarlett Johansson and her action-packed film Lucy. Once the fight began, the Rock-Bottom move came not from the former wrestler, but from the butt-kicking Scarlett Johansson. The Luc Beeson directed Lucy, made on a modest production budget of $40 million, stole the weekend show with earnings of $44 million in North America alone. It is more than an impressive opening for an “original” film, and is in fact better than the opening of 2010’s Salt ($36 million) which starred none other than Angelina Jolie. Much credit for Lucy has to go to Johansson whose fanbase has undoubtedly increased with her much loved appearances as Black Widow in the Marvel movies. And the fact that she was bringing another action-oriented character to Lucy would definitely have helped. This would also be Luc Beeson’s biggest movie so far in North America at least, and may very well cross the $264 million worldwide earnings of The Fifth Element (1997) if things go well abroad too. Scarlett Johansson is an international star after all!
Speaking of international stars, Dwayne Johnson is undoubtedly one who has grown in this space over the past decade. And Paramount would be relying heavily on his fan-following in foreign lands after the rather lukewarm opening seen in North America. The movie has been made on a production budget of $100 million, though managed only $29 million in the domestic market over the the weekend. That would make it difficult for this movie to eventually cross the $100 million earnings mark in the home market. But this movie has a lot of potential to do well overseas, given its heavy dose of CGI which is always a plus factor in other countries as well as Dwayne Johnson’s presence. The movie has already earned a similar amount internationally, but that is just the beginning of things, and the expectations are for a $200 million plus gross internationally. If that turns out to be the case, it would get the studios their money back at least, and anything on top is a bonus. Would be interesting to see how this pans out, and would be a real test on how solidly Dwayne Johnson can call himself an action star who can make a solo movie work.
In the heavy battle between Lucy and Hercules, there was little interest for the Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton comedy-drama titled And So It Goes. The movie opened in about 1,760 theatres, earning a below-par $4.5 million and will be soon lost in the deluge of movies that are yet to come. On the other hand, the spy-thriller A Most Wanted Man had a limited release in about 360 theatres and earned a solid $2.7 million. This one would of course attract more attention now as the final lead role of Philip Seymour Hoffman, but it also seems to be a strong movie on its own merit if the 90% Rottentomatoes score is anything to go by. Hopefully, a wider release will follow. So the July round-up is complete, and a packed-up August is soon going to be upon us. And just a final word on the biggest movie of the year so far… Transformers: Age of Extinction is at $966 million and counting…
Here are the top 5 weekend earners at the US box-office (estimates):
1. Lucy ($44.0 million)
2. Hercules ($29.0 million)
3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ($16.4 million; third weekend)
4. The Purge: Anarchy ($9.9 million; second weekend)
5. Planes: Fire & Rescue ($9.3 million; second weekend)