The U.S. box office is as glum this weekend as the dystopian future depicted in one of the new releases.
Although off to a soft start, Neill Blomkamp’s robot thriller “Chappie” is No. 1 at the box office, aiming for a lower-than-expected $13 million to $13.5 million this weekend, while the comedy “Unfinished Business” is giving star Vince Vaughn the worst opening weekend of his career.
Sony’s “Chappie” launched to $4.5 million on Friday in the U.S. Blomkamp’s third film is far behind his previous two (dystopian thrillers as well): “District 9,” which opened to $37.4 million in 2009, and “Elysium,” which launched to $29.8 million in 2013.
Made on a modest $49 million budget (financed partly by MRC and LStar Capital) and shot in South Africa, much like the low-budget hit “District 9,” the Johannesburg-set film could do better business overseas as it opens simultaneously in 53 markets, including the U.K., Germany, France and Russia.
“Chappie” finds Hugh Jackman, Dev Patel and Sigourney Weaver living in a society ruled by a mechanized police force. When one police android, Chappie (voiced by Sharlto Copley), is stolen and reprogrammed, he becomes the first bot with the ability to think and feel.
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Fox’s R-rated comedy “Unfinished Business” opened to $1.8 million (behind two other Fox films, including the fourth weekend of “Kingsman: The Secret Service”) — on track for a disappointing $5 million weekend. It came in fifth on Friday, but stands to fall to eighth place, behind “Fifty Shades of Grey,” later this weekend.
Vaughn’s previous career low came just two years ago with “Delivery Man” (also directed by Ken Scott), which opened to $7 million in the U.S. It follows a slew of consecutive duds, including “The Dilemma” (2011), “The Watch” (2012) and “The Internship” (2013).
He had five comedies — “Dodgeball,” “Wedding Crashers,” “The Break-Up,” “Four Christmases” and “Couples Retreat” — cross $100 million between 2004 and 2009.
“Unfinished Business,” which was produced for $35 million and financed by New Regency, follows small-business owner Vaughn and his associates (Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco) on a disastrous business trip to Europe.
Another new entry, Fox Searchlight’s “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” checked in to third place with $2.7 million on Friday, despite playing in just 1,563 theaters. The pic is up against “Kingsman: The Secret Service” for third on its way to an $8 million weekend stay.
The sequel to “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is coming in above recent projections that were in the $7 million range. The original surprised with $46.4 million at the domestic box office in 2012 for a worldwide total of $136.8 million.
The ensemble comedy, which includes Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Patel, has already opened overseas, bringing in $5.8 million in the U.K. and $3.2 million in Australia.
Will Smith’s “Focus” was runner-up, earning $2.9 million on Friday after opening to a muted No. 1 last weekend. Warner Bros.’ crime drama aims to gross $9.5 million-plus by Sunday.
“Kingsman: The Secret Service” came in fourth on Friday with $2.2 million in its fourth frame, but will likely work its way up to third with north of $8 million this weekend.
Paramount’s “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” rounded out the weekend’s top five, raking in an estimated $1.4 million on Friday for a weekend of about $7 million, which would raise it cume to just under $150 million.
This weekend continues the last two weekends’ box office slump. It’s down 40% from this time last year, when “300: Rise of an Empire” grossed $45 million and “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” reeled in $32.2 million.