Despite a quite promising Thursday evening start, Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim should not get even close to the $50 million mark at the domestic box office this weekend, July 12-14, 2013. Del Toro's homage to Japanese monsters movies of the '50s and '60s has lost quite a bit of steam, apparently after IMAX pre-sales ran their course.
According to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo, Pacific Rim took in $14.62 million on Friday, July 12, including a better-than-expected $3.6 million from Thursday evening and midnight shows. Of Thursday's figure, an estimated $835,000 originated from 331 IMAX theaters — out of a total of 3,275 venues. IMAX locations have likely continued to boost Pacific Rim's box office fortunes throughout the weekend, but what about the film's other 2,944 North American venues?
Pacific Rim vs. Prometheus, Inception
As I mentioned in my Pacific Rim box office post yesterday, comparisons to Ridley Scott's Prometheus or to another mid-July non-sequel, Christopher Nolan / Leonardo DiCaprio's Inception, were iffy. In early June 2012, Scott's R-rated horror sci-fier, which features several mid-level stars such as Michael Fassbender and Best Actress Oscar winner Charlize Theron (Monster), took in $3.56 million from midnight screenings and $51.05 million on its first weekend. Inception debuted with $62.78 million in mid-July 2010.
However, unlike Pacific Rim, neither Prometheus nor Inception was sold as a fanboy movie event like Michael Bay's Transformers movies, or megabudget superhero movies such as Zack Snyder's Man of Steel, Joss Whedon's The Avengers, or Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. And fanboy events (much like fangirl events, e.g., the record-breaking midnight shows of New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn Part 1), unless accompanied by solid word of mouth and positive reviews, tend to be quite frontloaded.
Even so, following its impressive late Thursday performance, I was expecting Pacific Rim to bring in about $45 million by Sunday evening. But if early weekend estimates found at Deadline.com are on target, Guillermo del Toro's Jaeger vs. Kaiju actioner may have a little trouble reaching even $40 million. Deadline's current estimate is $39.7 million; a few hours earlier it was $37 million. Based on the film's Friday take and barring an unexpected Saturday surge, Pacific Rim will likely end up in that upper $30 million range. (Update: Pacific Rim, Grown Ups 2 weekend box office.)
Pacific Rim vs. World War Z
For comparison's sake: both Marc Forster / Brad Pitt's zombie movie World War Z and Pacific Rim cost a reported $190 million. World War Z opened with $66.41 million last June. An opening below $40 million for Pacific Rim means bad news for producing companies Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures. It also means that unless business remains relatively steady in the next couple of weekends, Pacific Rim can be added to the list of domestic summer flops in relation to their gargantuan costs — along with Johnny Depp / Armie Hammer's The Lone Ranger and M. Night Shyamalan / Will Smith's After Earth.
The good news: to date, World War Z has earned $167.65 million in North America — plus an estimated $207.4 million internationally. Chances are Pacific Rim will follow a similar box office trajectory, with the bulk of its earnings coming from outside the United States and Canada. On Thursday, Pacific Rim collected an impressive (estimated) $7.8 million from 25 markets, including $2 million in Russia and $1.5 million in South Korea. Somewhat surprisingly, as the Kaiju make a special appearance at the Sydney Opera House, the film disappointed on opening day in Australia, landing in fourth place.
Pacific Rim vs. Grown Ups 2
Pacific Rim currently has a 67 percent approval rating and 6.6/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics. That may not seem very impressive, until you compare it to the latest Adam Sandler tragedy, the Dennis Dugan-directed Grown Ups 2: 9 percent approval rating and 3.2/10 average. But as the old saying goes, If you offer them rotten garbage, they'll gulp it all and ask for seconds.
Also featuring Chris Rock, David Spade, Kevin James, Maya Rudolph, Salma Hayek (once upon a time a Best Actress Oscar nominee, for Frida), and a cameo by Taylor Lautner, Grown Ups 2 should gross around $41-43 million from 3,491 sites this weekend. If so, that should place Grown Ups 2 ahead of both Pacific Rim and the original Grown Ups ($40.5 million in 2010), but behind Despicable Me 2. Universal's 3D animated feature, whose voice cast includes Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig, should collect around $45 million.
And I should add that The Lone Ranger should consider itself lucky if it grosses more than $10 million this weekend, following a highly unimpressive $3.36 million take on Friday.
Official weekend box office estimates come out on Sunday morning. Weekend box office actuals will be released on Monday.
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, Max Martini, Ron Perlman, Idris Elba, Burn Gorman, Robert Kazinsky, Clifton Collins Jr, Larry Joe Campbell, Mana Ashida, Brad William Henke, and Santiago Segura.
Charlie Hunnam Pacific Rim photo: Warner Bros. (See also Pacific Rim: Charlie Hunnam 'male bonding.')