‘Pacific Rim’ #3 As ‘Grown-Ups 2′ Edged By #1 ‘Despicable Me 2′ For Domestic Weekend

SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM, 9TH & 10TH UPDATE: The Top 3 order changed again this weekend. Holdover Despicable Me 2 is still #1 with around $44.7M beating newcomers Growns-Ups 2 ($42.5M for #2) and Pacific Rim ($38.3M for #3). Universal’s and Illumination Entertainment’s 3D toon is #1 worldwide passing $400M global gross and $200M from North America. Warner Bros’ and Legendary Pictures’ mecha anime-inspired scifi battle was the only original newcomer fighting 2 sequels. Because of good reviews and CinemaScores, the hope is to “broaden out” the 3D film’s audience for the next four weeks of IMAX screenings. The $180-$220m costing pic’s worldwide cume is now $91.3M after opening in 50% of international territories this weekend. More later.

SATURDAY 10 AM, 8TH UPDATE: What a surprise Friday’s domestic box office turned out to be as Summer 2013 continues to sizzle. Total moviegoing this weekend is close to $200M which is a humongous +29% from last year. At first the three top films looked neck and neck throughout Friday. After predictions of possible disaster, Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures’ 3D Pacific Rim (3,275 theaters and 331 IMAX screens) seemed strong throughout the day but then “ran out of IMAX tix and pre-sales at last” according to an exec. It ended Friday #2 with $14.6M and an expected $37M weekend. With audiences giving it an ‘A-’ CinemaScore, the scifi winner-takes-all actioner may have an upside with word of mouth. Or else the hype just failed to hold. International is a big part of Pacific Rim‘s strategy day and date in 38 territories in a crowded marketplace with 9,700 screens including the Top 12 markets. But Sony Pictures/Happy Madison’s Growns-Ups 2 (3,491 theaters) wound up #1 Friday with a middle-of-the-road ‘B’ CinemaScore (same as the original) despite terrible reviews. Goes to show that this summer’s audiences are still starved for comedy. And that no one can count out Adam Sandler and his $80M ensemble or Jeff Blake’s strong marketing department. It made $16.3M for $42M, beating the first’s $14.4M/$40.5M. Internationally, Sony is releasing it day and date in just Spain and some small territories this weekend Germany next week, and then a wide rollout. But even though Universal’s and Illumination Entertainment’s global #1 holdover Despicable Me 2 placed #3 Friday, it must wait for the Saturday kiddie bump to see if it can land on top of the worldwide box office again. The 3D toon did $13.3M domestic Friday (-56%) and should end up $43M. Pic reached $404.6M at the worldwide box office today and crosses $200M later today after just one week in release. Film only cost a very reasonable $76M and has 18 more foreign territories to open over the next few months.

Here’s how it all went down: For Thursday late shows and Friday midnights, Pacific Rim overperformed for $3.6M with the 3D ratio a strong 52% “and the largest ratio of a wide release for a very long time” according to an exec. Grown-Ups 2 also started with bigger than expected $2.3M late shows even though it’s a PG-13 family, non-fanboy, non-IMAX movie. As of 9:00 AM PT Friday morning on Fandango, the three top films were selling neck and neck online and through mobile: 31% for Pacific Rim, 30% for Despicable Me 2, and 28% for Grown-Ups 2. According to Friday’s Rotten Tomatoes scores, Pacific Rim had 72% positive reviews, Grown-Ups 2 an astoundingly awful 5%. (Ouch!)

Few tentpoles this summer and even this year have prompted more uninformed box office forecasting and just amateurish speculation (but not on Deadline) than the mecha anime inspired Pacific Rim. Headlines like “It’ll tank!” or “It’ll triumph!” sometimes within 24 hours of one another, ignored the fact that tracking is unreliable. And it sure has been this May, June, and July. One reason for the extra attention on Pacific Rim is that it cost an expensive $180M-$220M due to its Industrial Light & Magic CGI. And also because it was fully developed and produced and majority financed by Legendary (with Warner Bros minority financing as well as distributing and marketing) without stars from a home-grown IP. That has focused all eyes on Legendary’s Thomas Tull, screenwriter Travis Beacham (who had the idea for the film), and co-scribe/director Guillermo del Toro. Tracking initially lagged but then domestic interest in Pacific Rim climbed once the full impact of Sue Kroll’s marketing campaign hit the market. But I fear it was front-loaded with scifi fanboys and failed to widen. It also seemed too derivative of Transformers, Godzilla, and, well, everything else audiences have seen before. While a major studio might be disappointed with Pacific Rim‘s domestic gross, mega-financier Tull has the luxury of mining this marginal outcome into a franchise – especially depending on how foreign performs.

Warner Bros says Pacific Rim continued to dominate Russia’s market at #1 with a 3-day cume of $4.1M. Korea had another great day with cume now $3.1M after 2 days, ranking #1 and taking 45% of the Top Five. Mexico started with $1.3M, and UK opening day was $1M ranking 2nd behind the other opener Monsters University. Australia’s cume is now $1.2M but only #4 for two straight days during the school holidays which is baffling, Italy is $585K, and New Zealand $221K. Pic launched in 25 markets on Thursday with a solid $7.8M on roughly 5,950 screens. Thursday’s top 7 markets included a strong opening day throughout Asia for #1. France and Germany follow next weekend, then China on July 31st, and Spain, Japan and Brazil on August 9th.

Here’s the Top Ten based on refined Friday numbers. Full analysis today:

1. Grown-Ups 2 (Sony) NEW [Runs 3,491] PG13
Friday $16.3M, Weekend $42.0M

2. Pacific Rim (Legendary/Warner Bros) NEW [Runs 3,275] PG13
Friday $14.6M, Weekend $37.0M

3. Despicable Me 2 (Illumination/Universal) Week 2 [Runs 4,003] PG
Friday $13.3M (-56%), Weekend $43.0M, Cume $227.5M

4. The Heat (Fox) Week 3 [Runs 3,128] R
Friday $4.2M, Weekend $13.4M, Cume $111.7M

5. The Lone Ranger (Disney) Week 2 [Runs 3,904] PG13
Friday $3.4M (-68%), Weekend $10.4M, Cume $70.5M

6. Monsters University (Pixar/Disney) Week 4 [Runs 3,142] G
Friday $3.2M, Weekend $10.4M, Cume $237.5M

7. World War Z (Paramount) Week 4 [Runs 3,003] PG13
Friday $2.7M, Weekend $8.7M, Cume $176.3M

8. White House Down (Columbia/Sony) Week 3 [Runs 2,566] PG13
Friday $1.8M, Weekend $6.0M, Cume $62.8M

9. Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain (Summit/Lionsgate) Week 2 [Runs 892] R
Friday $1.5M (-59%), Weekend $4.5M, Cume $25.8M

10. Man Of Steel (Legendary/Warner Bros) Week 5 [Runs 2,150] PG13
Friday $1.3M, Weekend $4.5M, Cume $280.7M

FRIDAY 12:15 AM, 3RD UPDATE: Great news on the foreign front. Warner Bros says Legendary Pictures’ Pacific Rim opened #1 in all 7 Asian markets on Thursday grossing a total $3.7M from 2,157 screens despite a crowded international marketplace. Korea made $1.4M from 961 screens, Taiwan: $611K from 199 screens, Thailand $559K from 273 screens, Malaysia $348K from 207 screens, The Philippines $283K from 277 screens, Indonesia $249K from 168 screens, Singapore $240K from 72 screens. More in the morning…

THURSDAY 9:30 PM, 2ND UPDATE: Sources tell me that Thursday late shows and Friday midnights for Pacific Rim are headed over $3M tonight and “could catch or pass” last month’s late shows for World War Z at $3.6M. I’ve just heard that Growns-Ups 2 late shows also are bigger than expected even than it’s not an R-rated comedy. “Maybe as high as $2M for a PG-13, family, non-fanboy, no IMAX movie,” an insider says. All this raising hopes for the weekend.

THURSDAY 5:30 UPDATE: As of 3 PM PT Thursday, Fandango’s total advance domestic ticket sales for Pacific Rim were slightly ahead of World War Z at the same point pre-release. (That Paramount film opened to $66.4M versus the $40+M projected for the Legendary pic.) However a significant, though not majority, of those sales are for the more expensive IMAX tickets. Meanwhile, a Fandango survey of 1,000 Pacific Rim ticket purchasers showed 86% said the online and mobile buzz influenced their decision, 81% are fans of giant monster movies, and 64% are fans of Del Toro.

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