Universal Pictures may be trailing Fox in terms of total gross thus far in 2014, but they tie for the number of films atop the box office, and more impressive about Universal's achievement is that all five of their first placers are original stories, and four of them are R-rated, including this weekend's Lucy. Box office remains significantly down on the same time last year, continuing a hugely disappointing season, financially, for the big American studios.
1. Lucy ($43,899,340)
Scarlett Johansson's brand has gone up sharply since impressing mainstream audiences in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and arthouse ones in Under the Skin. This is a very strong opening for Lucy, which is an R-rated film from Luc Besson, a director with a very spotty box office history in America. The action film, which is performing above Angelina Jolie's Salt (rated PG-13), looks set to fall off on this gross over the coming weeks, but it's already a hit for Universal.
2. Hercules ($29,800,263)
The Legend of Hercules, with Kellan Lutz, was a major, though not unexpected, bomb earlier this year. With a better budget, marketing campaign, release date and lead, Brett Ratner's Hercules has already out-grossed that film in just three days, though this is still a poor figure that reflects very badly on Paramount's decision to spend $100 million on a sword-and-sandals action film. The genre has seen a slight resurgence in recent years, though one which was already fading by Wrath of the Titans, and looks set to decline further following this lacklustre gross.
3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ($16,767,260)
4. The Purge: Anarchy ($10,482,760)
5. Planes: Fire and Rescue ($9,529,656)
6. Sex Tape ($6,052,050)
7. Transformers: Age of Extinction ($4,702,553)
8. And So It Goes ($4,642,329)
Posting a marked increase over upstart distributor Clarius Entertainment's last nationwide release, Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return, this paltry tally for Rob Reiner's comedy, starring Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton, confirms that big names are never enough to sell a movie that people don't want to see. Some will be dismayed to see such talents degraded by such a dismal opening weekend gross. Some will say they deserved it.
9. Tammy ($3,454,221)
10. A Most Wanted Man ($2,686,526)
Roadside cannily shifted this thriller into 361 theatres, giving it just the right moderate push for a modest product, not quite well-reviewed enough to generate major arthouse buzz, not nearly high-profile enough to ignite the interests of general moviegoers. The decent promotional job also ensured that people were aware of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman's presence. A Top 10 placement is definitely a win for Roadside, as it's their first time opening so high on the chart.
Gabriel Iglesias' comedy concert movie was billed as the Latino Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain. Latinos may be a huge source of revenue for the U.S. film industry, but their interest alone was nowhere near enough to make The Fluffy Movie an opening weekend hit.
19. Kick ($1,071,373)
25. Magic in the Moonlight ($412,095)
Those who want to speculate that the slight per-theatre average for Woody Allen's new comedy ($24,241) is down to the film showing in a higher number of cinemas than usual for the filmmaker (17) ought to look to the film's total gross so far and compare it to recent Allen openers. Both Midnight in Paris and Blue Jasmine started their box office lives in just six cinemas, and made more than $412k in their first weekends. Not a vintage performance, for a movie which many agree is not vintage Woody.
61. Happy Christmas ($7,523)
With or without a VOD release, this is a terrible gross for the comedy, with Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey and Joe Swanberg.
63. A Master Builder ($7,017)
70. Come Back to Me ($4,156)
79. Fanny ($1,872)
It ought to be Marvel's fourth easy win at the box office this year next weekend with Guardians of the Galaxy; The Help director Tate Taylor's James Brown biopic Get On Up, with Chadwick Boseman from 42 alongside Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer ought to get off to a solid start, before holding strongly through August.