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Box Office: Charlie Hunnam PACIFIC RIM

Charlie Hunnam shirtless Pacific RimPacific Rim box office: Guillermo del Toro’s monster movie to reach $50 million in North America? (Photo: A shirtless Charlie Hunnam uses his biceps to scare off the Kaiju in Pacific Rim)

Could Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim reach $50 million at the domestic box office by Sunday evening (July 14, 2013)? Thursday evening and midnight shows brought in a somewhat better-than-expected $3.6 million according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Comparisons to Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, which took in $3.56 million from midnight screenings in early June 2012, are iffy; after all, Scott’s horror sci-fier was rated R, and, unlike Pacific Rim, it wasn’t sold as a cinematic fanboy event along the lines of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, or Man of Steel, The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, and the like. And fanboy events (much like fangirl events, e.g., the Twilight movies), unless accompanied by phenomenal word of mouth and highly positive reviews, tend to be quite frontloaded. (Update: Pacific Rim vs. Grown Ups 2 box office.)

So, although Prometheus opened with $51.05 million in the U.S. and Canada — and Christopher Nolan / Leonardo DiCaprio’s Inception opened with $62.78 million in mid-July 2010 — barring a surprising Friday evening and Saturday surge, chances are Pacific Rim will gross somewhere in the mid-$40 million range on its debut weekend. Of note: an estimated $835,000 of Pacific Rim’s Thursday gross was earned at 331 IMAX theaters — out of a total of 3,275 venues. Expect pricier IMAX locations to continue to boost the film’s box office fortunes throughout the weekend.

Pacific Rim and World War Z

Box-office pundits had been expecting Pacific Rim, which reportedly had been tracking modestly in the last few weeks, to open between $30 and $40 million. At this stage, that sounds like a pretty low-ball range. Either way, Pacific Rim will almost surely have a much less impressive opening weekend than Marc Forster / Brad Pitt’s zombie movie World War Z, which debuted with $66.41 million this past June. And that’s not very good news for Warner Bros. and partner Legendary Pictures, as Pacific Rim — like World War Z — reportedly cost a mammoth $190 million.

The good news: World War Z has to date earned $167.65 million in North America — in addition to an estimated $207.4 million internationally. Chances are Pacific Rim will follow a similar box office trajectory, i.e., the bulk of its earnings will come from outside North America, even though the film disappointed on its Australian opening, landing in fourth place according to The Hollywood Reporter. On Thursday, Pacific Rim collected an estimated $7.8 million from 25 markets, including $2 million in Russia and $1.5 million in South Korea.

Pacific Rim reviews

Pacific Rim currently has a barely passable 67 percent approval rating and 6.6/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes’ top critics. If that doesn’t sound all that impressive, well, Pacific Rim looks like an Ingmar Bergman masterpiece when compared to the latest Adam Sandler "comedy," Grown Ups 2, which has a 9 percent approval rating and 3.2/10 average. Grown Ups 2, which earned $2.3 million from Thursday nights shows, is expected to gross around $40+ million this weekend as well (from 3,491 locations). As an ancient wise man once said, If you offer them fetid trash, they’ll come — and they’ll bring the family, too.

According to Deadline.com, Pacific Rim, Grown Ups 2, and holdover Despicable Me 2 featuring the voices of Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig, are all vying for top position somewhere in the $40+ million range this weekend. All three movies should be earning around $14 million this Friday, as per Deadline. If so, that means Despicable Me 2 is racing ahead of the pack, as the 3D animated feature doesn’t have the advantage of Thursday evening’s box-office-inflating shows.

Pacific Rim cast

Co-written by Guillermo del Toro and Travis Beacham (Clash of the Titans, Dog Days of Summer), Pacific Rim features Sons of Anarchy and Queer as Folk’s Charlie Hunnam, Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nominee Rinko Kikuchi (Babel), Diego Klattenhoff, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Idris Elba, Max Martini, Robert Kazinsky, Ron Perlman, Clifton Collins Jr, Larry Joe Campbell, Brad William Henke, Mana Ashida, and Santiago Segura.

Shirtless Charlie Hunnam Pacific Rim photo: Warner Bros. (See also Pacific Rim: Charlie Hunnam ’male bonding energy.’)

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