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By Hammad Zaidi | July 16, 2013

Welcome back to “Going Bionic.” I hope you had a productive and successful week. Mine was mired in juggling several new opportunities along with the commitments I already have, in order to create a harmonic balance that will allow me to thrive. But, like always, it’ll all work out the way it’s supposed to.

Today we’re going to continue last week’s discussion on how this summer follows an alarming trend where filmgoers are shifting their dollars away from non-sequel tent pole releases and toward comedies and family programming.  Is the world changing? Is the sky falling? Or, have the recent gargantuan budgeted releases simply neglected the most important element of films: a great story?  Whatever the reasons, this summer will be remembered as the year when comedies and family programming spanked major releases at the box office.

This past weekend was no different, because the weekend’s most anticipated release, Pacific Rim, got beat by not one, but two family comedies, Despicable Me 2 and Grown Ups 2. Take note filmmakers; getting beat at the box office on your opening weekend when you were one of the most anticipated films of the year is bad enough, but when you get beat by two sequels to family comedies whose combined budgets are less than yours, and one of those films is in its second week of release, then clearly you bombed, and may want to consider a career change.

Okay, that’s a bit harsh. But, whether you like it or not, the movie-going public, not the film studios, decides what works or doesn’t work at the box office. So, before we all go blame the studios for filling our theater screens with loads of over-budgeted crap, we should first blame our friends and family for spending their hard-earned money on that crap. At least this summer movie buffs are speaking loudly with their purses and wallets. Hopefully, their “collective financial voice” will force studios to give us better stories next summer! So, let’s look into the details of how Pacific Rim  “rimmed out.”

Pacific Rim Gets A Bronze Medal At The Box Office
Pacific Rim opened earning an estimated $38,300,000 over the weekend, which was good enough for third place at the box office. This Warner Bros. release bowed on 3,275 screens, which means it, averaged only $11,695 per screen. While these numbers may not seem horrible, they clearly suck for a film that had a $190,000,000 production budget before P&A.

Films That Pacific Rim Lost Out To Over The Weekend
Despicable Me 2, a $76,000,000 animated family film, won the box office for the second weekend in a row. The picture made an estimated $44,754,000 over the weekend on 4,003 screens, which are down from $83,517,315 made on 3,997 screens last weekend. That’s a drop of 46.4%. However, it’s per screen average of $11,180 over the weekend had been second only to Grown Ups 2, which was in its first weekend of release. Another intriguing thing about the rise of Despicable Me 2, is that even though it made $229,237,000 domestically in its first twelve days of release, it’s made more money overseas; $243,200,000, giving the film a worldwide total of $472,437,000. Comedies don’t usually travel so well overseas, because what’s funny in Kansas usually isn’t funny in Kuwait, so it’s having one that thrives internationally is both wonderful and rare.

Grown Ups 2, an $80,000,000 budgeted film, matured to second place at the domestic box office, by earning $42,500,000 on 3,491 screens. That’s a per screen average of $12,174. The film was the second biggest opening weekend ever for Adam Sandler, (The Longest Yard made $47,600,000), but due to a weak B- average, the picture probable won’t grow much beyond $120,000,000 at the domestic box office.

Pacific Rim Earns More Overseas Than Domestically
The one bright spot and possible savior to this film’s financial fate, is that it’s performing very well overseas. To date, the film has earned an estimated $53,000,000 in 38 international territories, and Warner Bros.  plans on releasing the film an about 35-40 more international territories. As I’ve mentioned before, action films have a tendency to do very well internationally, because audiences don’t need to speak English in order to understand and enjoy the movie. So, while American audiences are shying away from Pacific Rim, foreign countries are enjoying it at a slightly better clip.

Pacific Rim Suffered From Lack of Star Power
The one thing I don’t understand is why Warner Bros. decided to spend $190,000,000 on a film with no stars. While I know people who went to see that film for its spectacle, not cast, I believe there would have been a lot more people flocking to the film if it had at least one big name to draw people in. While I won’t count Iron Man 3 or Man of Steel, because they are products of established franchises, I will ask you to consider World War Z. This Brad Pitt starrer earned $66,411,834 in 3,607 theaters on its opening weekend, made $177,087,000 domestically, and $243,000,000 more overseas, which gives it a worldwide total of $423,087,000. That’s pretty good for a film budgeted at $190,000,000 – which is the same budget of Pacific Rim. Thus, I believe World War Z benefited tremendously from having Brad Pitt, while Pacific Rim suffered almost an equal amount for not have anyone of note in the film.

Okay, cinebuffs. That’s what I have for you today. I thank you kindly once again for lending me your eyes, and I look forward to borrowing them again next Tuesday! Until then, have a great week! I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.

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