The Conjuring

Warner-New Line scarer overperforms with $41 mil; U's big-budget misfire flops with just $12.8 mil

The summer’s lengthy list of box office misfires welcomed a new film to its ranks this weekend — Universal’s “R.I.P.D.,” which cost $130 million to produce and opened with a dismal $12.8 million domestically. Though on the hits side, Warner Bros.-New Line’s low-budget scarer, “The Conjuring,” overperformed with a stellar estimated $41.5 million through Sunday.

“The Conjuring,” which was made for just $20 million, was the brightest spot during a weekend of mostly underperformers. Fox’s second DreamWorks Animation release, “Turbo,” got off to a disappointing start, earning just $21.5 million in three days, with $31.2 million in five. The toon marks one of the lowest three-day openings for a recent DWA CGI-animated film.

Also, Lionsgate-Summit’s “Red 2″ succumbed to the weight of an overcrowded frame, earning just $18.5 million, roughly $3 million less than its predecessor’s debut weekend in 2010.

SEE MORE: Film Reviews: ‘Conjuring,’ ‘Turbo,’ ‘R.I.P.D.’ and More Opening This Week (July 15-19, 2013)

Overcrowding was a particular cause for complaint by observers this weekend, especially given the prominence of strong holdovers in the market place, including U’s “Despicable Me 2,” which fell just 43% in its third frame, for a three-day estimate of $25.1 million. “Despicable Me” crossed the $275 million domestic mark.

“Even though we’re having a great summer and a great year, this still hurts,” said U distribution prexy Nikki Rocco, referring to the “R.I.P.D.” bellyflop. Pic, which stars Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges, received a poor ‘C+’ CinemaScore rating.

Universal and Warner Bros. each crossed $1 billion in domestic ticket sales so far this year. Disney was the first to reach the milestone in 2013 last weekend.

And proving a tad more resilient after last weekend’s disappointing opening, Warner-Legendary Pictures’ “Pacific Rim” fell 57% in its second frame, with an estimated $16 million. That’s still a sizable drop, though it could have been steeper given the competition. Overseas is a brighter beacon for the monster mashup, with more than $110 million and $178.5 million worldwide.

At the weekend’s specialty box office, the Weinstein Co. had a successful expansion of last week’s per-screen champ, “Fruitvale Station,” which in its second outing grossed more than $742,000 from just 34 locations. Pic averaged $21,832 per screen.

SEE MORE: Box Office: Two Ryan Reynolds Misfires in One Weekend?

Touting a less traditional release, Weinstein’s video-on-demand distribution arm Radius bowed Ryan Gosling indie “Only God Forgives” to strong early results. The film is on track to rival previous VOD champ “Arbitrage,” according to Radius, based on the film’s performance on iTunes.

“Only God Forgives” bowed to less fanfare theatrically this weekend, estimating north of $315,000, for an average of just $4,038 from 78 locations.

R.I.P. ‘R.I.P.D’

The massive misfire of “R.I.P.D.” marks the fourth consecutive big-budget disappointment, after “White House Down,” “The Lone Ranger” and “Pacific Rim” last weekend. And while tracking often is unreliable, a lack of early audience interest foretold each film would flop weeks in advance.

Young men, at 53%, was the strongest demographic for “R.I.P.D.,” with little interest from other audience segments.

The dismal fate of “R.I.P.D.” is all but sealed. Not even international will be able to save the film given its bad buzz and word-of-mouth. Pic bowed day-and-date in just 10 markets, grossing $6.8 million, of which Russia alone contributed $6.4 million. France is the film’s next major market set to bow July 30.

Still, Universal scaled back on the film’s domestic marketing campaign once interest failed to pop for the pic.

Slow — but steady — race for ‘Turbo’?

The weekend’s other disappointing start for a big-budget pic, Fox’s “Turbo,” may be more forgiving in the long term. The toon bowed in 28 markets, which reps just 25% of the international market place, grossing $22.6 million.

Domestically, “Turbo,” which cost $135 million to produce, should leg out well enough, considering how family-skewing films tend to play during the week. What’s more, the film received an overall ‘A’ CinemaScore, with an ‘A+’ among its core under-25 demo.

“We have an original content movie in the middle of a really competitive market place,” said Fox distribution chief Chris Aronson. “But there’s plenty of summer left and I think we should have a good multiple.”

Richie Fay, Lionsgate-Summit’s distribution chief, is equally hopeful about the playability for “Red 2.” While the film got off to a slower start than its predecessor, the sequel — which earned a ‘B+’ CinemaScore — will benefit more from increased mid-week theater traffic. The original bowed in the fall and grossed $90 million Stateside.

“We’re on course to do about what we did with the last film,” Fay said.

‘Conjuring’ a B.O. hit

The overperformance for “The Conjuring” isn’t too surprising since horror films, in particular, are driven by word-of-mouth — and buzz on “Conjuring” has been building for months now.

The film, which stars Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, is based on actual events of the Warrens, a husband-wife team of paranormal investigators. Directed by “Saw” helmer James Wan, “Conjuring” surprisingly is free of graphic blood or gore, but the film was rated R for “sequences of disturbing violence and terror.” The pic has an 85% rating on RottenTomatoes.

Initially, Warner was going to release the film during the first quarter, but the studio gambled on a summer date based on the pic’s abnormally positive exit poll ratings.

“It was a bold move dating the film during the summer against three other big-budget tentpoles,” said Warner domestic distribution exec Jeff Goldstein. “It just hit at the right time.”

Domestic

Film (Weeks in release): 3-day gross*; Locations; Per-theater average; Cume*; Percentage change

  1. The Conjuring (1): $41.5; 2,903; $14,306; $41.5; –
  2. Despicable Me 2 (3): $25.1; 3,820; $6,560; $276.2; -43%
  3. Turbo (1): $21.5; 3,806; $5,649; $31.2; –
  4. Grown Ups 2 (2): $20.0; 3,491; $5,729; $79.5; -52%
  5. Red 2 (1): $18.5; 3,016; $6,134; $18.5; –
  6. Pacific Rim (2): $16.0; 3,285; $4,857; $68.2; -57%
  7. R.I.P.D. (1): $12.8; 2,852; $4,475; $12.8; –
  8. The Heat (4): $9.3; 2,689; $3,468; $129.3; -33%
  9. World War Z (5): $5.2; 2,006; $2,592; $186.9; -44%
  10. Monsters University (5): $5.0; 2,186; $2,287; $249.0; -53%

Overseas

Film (Weeks in release): 3-day gross*; Territories; Screens; Int’l cume*; Global cume*; Percentage change

  1. Despicable Me 2 (5): $35.4; 50; 7,850; $308.4; $584.6; -35%
  2. Pacific Rim (2): $34.8; 48; 9,800; $110.3; $178.5; -34%
  3. Turbo (1): $22.6; 28; 6,203; $22.6; $53.8; –
  4. Monsters University (5): $20.7; 46; n/a; $283.9; $532.9; -31%
  5. World War Z (5): $12.0; 61; 6,320; $269.5; $456.4; -47%

*in millions of $

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