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Box offices binges on "The Purge"

It's Tim, taking over Monday box office duties for Nathaniel while he's away, so if I've made some little formatting mistake, apologies in advance.

It says all there is to say about the cool state of the box office right now (nobody wants to put something out just in time to have Man of Steel cut its legs off next week) that the big story is a horror movie with toxic word of mouth hugely outperforming expectations. Truthfully, though, $34 million for the Ethan Hawke home invasion thriller The Purge is pretty impressive: it more than doubled the open weekend of Hawke's last horror picture, Sinister, while blasting past pretty much every comparable film in recent memory. That's what a drought in the marketplace will do for you: horror fans will turn out to see new wide releases if it's been a long time, even if the new release in question looks completely awful. I know whereof I speak.

Meanwhile, Wedding Crashers reunion/feature length Google ad The Internship has made exactly the non-splash that could be predicted based on how much nobody in the entire world was talking about the movie, though it's worth pointing out that it's not particularly out of line with the recent films Vince Vaugn and Owen Wilson have made seperately in the past few years. Also, Fast & Furious 6 broke the $200 million mark before Star Trek Into Darkness, which is a statistic that I don't think anybody would have willing to predict at the start of the summer.

01 THE PURGE $34.1 *NEW*
02 FAST & FURIOUS 6  $19.2 (cum. $202.8)
03 NOW YOU SEE ME  $19.0 (cum. $60.9)
05 EPIC $11.9 (cum. $83.9)
04 STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS  $11.4 (cum. $199.9) The Dumbing Down of Star Trek
07 AFTER EARTH  $10.7 (cum. $46.1) M Night Shyamalan's Fall
08 THE HANGOVER PART III $7.3 (cum. $102.3)
09 IRON MAN THREE $5.8 (cum. $394.3) Reviewed & Podcasted
10 THE GREAT GATSBY $4.2 (cum. $136.1) Reviewed & Dreamt About

In limited release, Frances Ha and Before Midnight are both purring along nicely (both were up from last weekend, in fact!), though neither they nor anything else came close to breaking into the top 10. The only prominent new film, Joss Whedon's modern-dress version of Much Ado About Nothing, put up a strong but not mind-blowing $34,388 per-screen average at five theaters, and didn't even crack the top 20, though its nationwide expansion on June 21 ought to improve its fortunes considerably, while giving all of us who don't live on the coasts a chance to see what Whedon's post-Avengers palette cleanser plays like.

Did you see anything this weekend? I didn't, taking advantage of the weather to do yardwork, though a friend and I are catching The Purge tonight. Like I said, horror fans are used to seeing things that we know are going to be utterly worthless.

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Reader Comments (18)

I stayed home, enjoyed the weather, and watched stuff on Netflix - the first few episodes of House of Cards, Sam Peckinpah's late career trucker head scratcher Convoy (I loved it, but man is that a weird movie), and the season finale of Game of Thrones.

I'm finally seeing Gatsby tonight, though, and very excited for that!

June 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

Well, to quote a ridiculous line from The Purge, try not to "release the beast" until you leave the theatre.

June 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Tried to watch Behind the Candelabra. Half an hour into the movie, I realised that in spite of the stellar performances, the direction and everything that looked just fine, I had no interest in the story of those guys. I realised that somehow being Soderbergh's last film, having great reviews -particularly Douglas- and being a gay story, I had to see it when in fact I had forgotten the most basic thing, did I want to see that story? And the answer was no. So I stopped watching it. I'll keep it in the back of my mind for a Soderbergh withdrawal moment. Then I began to think about the obligations we impose on ourselves (i.e. seeing the Oscar contenders) in movies first, in life later. But as this isn't therapy, I'll keep the rest for myself.

So, no, I didn't see anything :) Right now I'm watching on TV Siete mesas de billar francés. Maribel Verdú vs. Blanca Portillo, head to head. They're just great, probably doing some of their best work, and it's on public TV.. Sometimes life sucks, sometimes it doesn't.

June 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

I saw both <I>The Purge and <I>Now You See Me over the weekend and <I>The Purge had an empty theatre while <I>Now You See Me was sold out.

I didn't think <I>The Purge in and of itself was all that bad. It's a standard killer-in-the-house thriller (I wouldn't really call it "horror"). The problem I had was I couldn't get past the societal implications of the premise. How do cities not burn to the ground with no services for 12 hours and people actively attempting to destroy everything in sight? How can the economy possibly continue when your workers are maimed if not outright killed on a regular basis? And even if they aren't, who could possibly trust anybody the next day knowing that they tried to kill you yesterday and are just waiting for next year to try again? Would you hire somebody who thinks nothing of killing his boss?

And that led to me questioning the motives for the neighbors: I don't like you so <I>I'll kill you? That's the immediate reaction? And do those people think anybody is going to dare move into the house after they've offed the current occupants? "Yes, the house was recently renovated and the previous owners were slaughtered by the neighbors because they didn't like the new addition." So every neighborhood is on a downward spiral.

It was sad. A serviceable plot destroyed by its premise.

June 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRrhain

It was Scott Rudin's 2012 Grammy for "The Book of Mormon" that was the last award he needed for the EGOT.

June 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

Thank you for elucidating everything that's wrong with the basic idea of The Purge, Rrhain - I feel like a crazy person, I keep hearing people say "The concept is so clever!" all over the place when it is SO FUCKING STUPID ON EVERY LEVEL.

June 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJA

Nathaniel: Im waiting for your YES NO MAYBE for the Blue Jasmine trailer

June 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

Saw Star Trek this weekend. It was fine, I guess. My man (who is a total Trekkie) really wanted to see it despite being really angry at JJ Abrams's reboot, and then basically spent the whole time fussing about the various things that didn't really hold true to the original world/storylines. Cumberbatch was good, but on the whole it just didn't really thrill me. Least favorite Big Summer Movie thus far.

June 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

My partner and I saw "Now You See Me" the day it opened, since I've been drooling to see it since the first preview. It's not quite as clever as it thinks it is, but it's still pretty nifty, and unlike a lot of the big movies out right now, it doesn't just expect you to turn your brain off while it throws a lot of explosions and visual "whoooooo" at you--it wants you to pay attention and keep up with it, and then its rewards are more bountiful. (I figured out the main twist about 1/3 of the way in, but missed all the supporting details, which accumulate and pay off beautifully.)

Last Friday was "The Kings of Summer." Very much in the vein of "Mud" (and probably that new Steve Carrell/Sam Rockwell movie) about boys coming of age during the summer, but so well-done in terms of casting, photography, mood, etc. that you completely ignore/overlook the plot implausibilities. (In this day and age, three teens disappearing--and one's parent doesn't even seem to notice he was gone for a week or more--would definitely be more of a big deal, and the vaguely lax efforts of law enforcement were peculiar.) Also, the film's a little sexist in the way that once a (very cool) girl enters the picture, the male bonding instantly fractures. Still, a big chunk of it is funny, poignant, and magical, and yes, it does have a bit of "Stand By Me" about it--think it has the potential to be a good-sized art house hit, and might even cross over enough to break $20 million or more if word-of-mouth takes off.

On the list: "Frances Ha" and "The Sapphires" before it leaves town. Holding off judgement on "Man of Steel." Panting for "Before Midnight."

June 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDback

Rrhain, I agree with everything you said about "The Purge." For a premise such as that one to fully work, there have to be some type of parameters. It simply cannot be a crime free for all. In addition, there is absolutely nothing meaningful to take away from the experience, be social commentary, satire, etc.

June 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

I saw Much Ado About Nothing on Friday. I enjoyed it but was completely distracted trying to check out Joss Whedon's house. It also left me wondering how different it would be had he had more time/money/unlimited access to his dream cast. I was surprised at how good I thought Acker and Denisof were; even Kanz and Lenk who typically grate on my nerves were very good.

June 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAR

I'm curious about the premise for "The Purge." In the story, is it meant to be some population-control thing? Or just blow-off-steam-to-cut-down-on-everyday-crime deal? Sounds so damn stupid.

June 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

@brookesboy: It's both. That is, the official premise is that it's supposed to be a way to cut down on crime. By giving everyone the chance to "release the beast" (as the phrase goes in the movie) one day a year, they will be less inclined to do it during the other times of the year. The leading text at the start of the movie claims that unemployment is down to 1% and crime is nearly non-existent, all because of the annual purge.

But then the movie has some pseudo-intellectual discussion in the form of talk shows with people criticizing the purge as nothing more than a way to kill off the poor, unproductive members of society. They, after all, can't afford the high tech security systems the rich have to protect themselves. And (spoiler), the ones who are trying to break into the house pretty much say exactly that.

I could try to come up with some sort of statement about conservative principles and the "Let him die!" comment that was made during the presidential debate, but that would be a stretch because there really wasn't much thought put into the implications of this system.

The meat of the movie (you're in a locked house with people trying to kill you both inside and outside) is serviceable, but the premise completely destroys any attempt to provide justification for the situation.

June 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRrhain

Toxic word of mouth? All I heard before going in was the ending was bad; it was the best part. Cue the fail trombone.

I can't get mad when a low budget horror does this well on opening weekend. It means more low budget horror will get a chance at a wide release; some of those are bound to be good.

June 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Rrhain, thanks for the explainer. I find it amusing when these cardboard nailbiters attempt to take on some political or philosophical significance in the name of cheap thrills. Why can't they just own what they are? I have more respect for an honest slasher flick than some ridiculous attempt to excuse or politicize their own baser instincts. Although maybe they are one in the same. I find Fox News much scarier than anything in the Friday the 13th franchise.

June 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

My plans to see Frances Ha have been thwarted four times now, but I finally saw Mud, which I hated. The DVD catchups were infinitely more successful: A Separation and How to Survive a Plague were both beautiful.

June 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTB

Funny - the premise of The Purge definitely doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but the world of the film - and especially some of the people (like the crazy Stepford blond neighbor with the cookies) - was so strange and off kilter that I didn't have much trouble going with it. And I thought it set the stage for a pretty effective little thriller with a strong little morality play current running through it. It fell apart for me about 2/3 of the way through, but up to that point I was really enjoying it.

June 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

Watched the indie "Finding Joy" (starring the lovable Josh Cooke) on Friday which was very cute and entertaining. Then finally saw "Frances Ha" on Sunday which I really loved. I want Bowie's "Modern Love" to play everytime I run down the street!

Got around to seeing "Think Like a Man" which was good, but forgettable for me. Still love Gabrielle Union, if only for the eternal goodwill of her still-astounding "Neo Ned" (w/Jeremy Renner) performance.

June 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge P.

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