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Box Office: Sony’s ‘Elysium’ Struggles to Break Elite Barrier, With $30 Mil Bow

'We're the Millers,' 'Planes' each gross solid $20 mil-plus three-day openings

Like its characters fighting for a piece of elite status, Sony’s sixth release this summer, “Elysium,” fought for box office glory — but the $115 million-budgeted sci-fi actioner fell somewhat short, with a just-OK $30.5 million domestic opening.

Elysium,” from co-producers MRC and QED, played well to its core under-25 male demo, though the Matt Damon-Jodie Foster starrer received a less-than-enthusiastic ‘B’ CinemaScore rating. Sony needed the film to start out strongly to pave an easier path toward profitability, which now seems iffy. Sony was relying on “Elysium” to help improve its image — and bottom line — after the studio’s rough summer with “After Earth” and “White House Down” both washing out. Sony’s “Smurfs 2” was a mixed bag, with a very soft domestic opening but a huge response overseas.

SEE ALSO: Matt Damon Saves the World in New ‘Elysium’ Trailer (VIDEO)

There still is hope for “Elysium” overseas, however. The film earned $10.9 million from only a handful of day-and-date markets, including Russia, which contributed $6.8 million. The remaining major territories are slated to bow the pic over the next several weeks.

“It was a nail-biting opening against so many films this weekend,” said Sony distribution prexy Rory Bruer, “but we’re very happy to hit the $30 million mark.”

The battle for No. 1 overseas again was between Sony’s “The Smurfs 2” and Warner Bros.-Legendary Pictures’ “Pacific Rim,” with the former pic winning this weekend. “Smurfs 2” grossed $34.6 million, for an overseas cume of $110 million; “Pacific Rim” estimated $33 million, with nearly $248 million internationally.

While Sony’s summer reputation stayed stable for the weekend , Warner Bros.’ Toby Emmerich-led New Line division scored its second summer hit, with R-rated comedy “We’re the Millers” grossing $26.6 million Friday-Sunday, for an estimated $38 million in five days. New Line struggled earlier this year with flops “Jack the Giant Slayer” and “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” but it turned the tide, thanks to low-budgeted “Millers” and “The Conjuring,” which crossed $120 million domestically in its fourth frame.

Totals from the competitive weekend — which saw two other wide releases with Disney’s “Planes,” earning $22.5 million in three days, and Fox’s “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters,” with $23.5 million in five — came in nearly 15% ahead of this time last year.

SEE ALSO: Why Matt Damon Was Grumpy on the Set of Sony’s ‘Elysium’

At the specialty box office, Sony Pictures Classics successfully expanded Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” to 119 theaters, where it earned $2.5 million for a Stateside cume of $6.2 million.

And Roadside Attractions bowed this weekend its Sundance pick-up “In a Better World,” which averaged a strong $23,660 from three locations in New York and L.A. The comedy expands next weekend to the top eight domestic markets.

Is there booster power left for ‘Elysium’?

Though a $30 million opening is decent-enough for “Elysium,” which cost much less than $37 million-opener “Pacific Rim,” similar exit poll ratings to helmer Neill Blomkamp’s “District 9” suggest “Elysium” also can gross more than three times its opening during the same time frame. That would put “Elysium” at just under $100 million domestically.

“Elysium” scored 61% of its opening from men, with a near 50/50 split between auds over and under 25.

Meanwhile, Warner prexy of domestic distribution Dan Fellman expects “We’re the Millers” to reach nine figures Stateside. The comedy, which stars Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston, cost only $37 million to produce and received a solid ‘A-‘ CinemaScore. Pic displayed strong legs nationwide.

“I think the interesting thing was how well we played in the Southwest and the Midwest,” Fellman said.

Planes’ sees successful take-off for Disney

Originally planned as a direct-to-video release, “Planes,” from Disney Toon Studios, scored the highest opening for an animated film in August. The $50 million toon, which is a spin-off from Disney-Pixar’s “Cars” franchise, held off on an international bow. Instead, Disney plans to release the film overseas over the next couple of months, starting with Spain and the U.K. next weekend.

The pic’s international prospects are boosted by Disney’s attempt to tailor the toon to various markets. For instance, the character Rochelle — a French-Canadian voiced by Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the domestic version — will have a different nationality overseas in places like Germany.

Disney was so confident in the multi-platform success of “Planes” that the studio already has dated a sequel, “Fire & Rescue,” for July 18, 2014.

“Planes” earned an overwhelming 85% of its opening from families, which likely affected Fox’s “Percy Jackson” sequel, “Sea of Monsters,” even though that pic appealed to older kids.

Internationally, “Sea of Monsters” earned $9.8 million from six territories, including the U.K., which contributed $3.3 million including previews, and Mexico, with $2.7 million.

Domestic

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

  1. Elysium (1): $30.5; 3,284; $9,287; $30.5; —
  2. We’re the Millers (1): $26.6; 3,260; $8,146; $38.0; —
  3. Planes (1): $22.5; 3,702; $6,084; $22.5; —
  4. Percy … Monsters (1): $14.6; 3,031; $4,817; $23.5; —
  5. 2 Guns (2): $11.1; 8,028; $3,675; $48.5; -59%
  6. The Smurfs 2 (2): $9.5; 3,867; $2,457; $46.6; -46%
  7. The Wolverine (3): $8.0; 2,867; $2,790; $112.0; -63%
  8. The Conjuring (4): $6.7; 2,650; $2,528; $120.7; -49%
  9. Despicable Me 2 (6): $5.7; 2,395; $2,400; $338.3; -43%
  10. Grown Ups 2 (5): $3.7; 2,192; $1,688; $123.8; -53%

Overseas

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

  1. The Smurfs 2 (2): $34.6; 65; 11,000; $110.0; $156.6; -34%
  2. Pacific Rim (5): $33.0; 61; 7,680; $247.4; $344.2; -38%
  3. The Wolverine (3): $18.0; 66; 9,377; $196.0; $308.0; -53%
  4. The Lone Ranger (6): $14.5; 53; n/a; $108.9; $196.2; -31%
  5. Now You See Me (11): $13.3; 63; 4,000; $140.0; $255.8; +2%

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