Denzel Washington Mark Wahlberg movie 2 Guns: Below par box office receipts
Aug. 3: A limp “low $20 million” range, is what 2 Guns U.S. distributor Universal claims it’s expecting at the North American box office from the first-ever pairing of Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg – as momentous a cinematic occasion, if the American media is to believed, as the first pairing of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? back in 1962. Of course, Universal’s lowball figure is an excuse for the studio to claim, “Omigod! 2 Guns has performed way beyond what any and all of us were expecting!” – as long as the Washington / Wahlberg combo brings in $25 million or more. (Image: Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg in 2 Guns.)
Well, Universal apparently made a good p.r. movie, as the R-rated, Baltasar Kormákur-directed 2 Guns collected a barely acceptable $10 million from 3,306 North American theaters on Friday according to studio estimates found at Boxofficemojo.com. Box office pundits were expecting that Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg would lure enough asses into movie-theater seats to generate around $30–$35 million by Sunday evening. Barring a major Saturday surge and strong Sunday business, that’s not likely to happen. Current weekend box office estimates have 2 Guns topping at around $28–$29 million. That’s not good news for the (reportedly) $61 million action comedy ($80–$90 million minus tax rebates) – not including marketing and distribution expenses, and box-office-related contractual obligations with the film’s top talent. (Sunday update: According to studio estimates, 2 Guns collected a less-than-expected $27.4 million.)
If the current 2 Guns weekend box office estimates are on target, there’s a good chance the first Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg pairing may turn out to be their last as well.
Denzel Washington: Major domestic box office draw?
Now, one thing that’s good to remember: although Denzel Washington is considered a major box office draw in the United States, in the last ten years only two Denzel Washington movies have raked in more than $100 million in the U.S. and Canada; in both instances, Washington was paired up with another well-known male lead. Ridley Scott’s American Gangster, co-starring Russell Crowe, took in $130.2 million in late 2007, while Daniel Espinosa’s Safe House, co-starring Ryan Reynolds, cumed at $126.4 million in early 2012. If inflation is taken into account, Washington has only one other above-$100 million domestic hit since 2005: Spike Lee’s 2006 heist thriller Inside Man, also starring Clive Owen and featuring Jodie Foster, which earned an adjusted $110 million.
Also worth remembering is that Denzel Washington – and Mark Wahlberg, for that matter – aren’t major box office draws internationally. According to the latest figures found at Box Office Mojo, Washington’s Flight grossed only $68 million internationally vs. $93.8 million in North America; Safe House grossed $81.7 million vs. $126.4 million; and The Book of Eli $62.3 million vs. $94.8 million. The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 and Unstoppable ($86.2 million vs. $81.6 million) performed slightly better internationally, but those had Washington paired up with the likes of, respectively, John Travolta and Star Trek‘s Chris Pine. A second name above the title helps. Depending on the name.
The only recent Mark Wahlberg movie to perform better internationally than domestically is Ted. If Box Office Mojo’s figures are fully up to date, Contraband, The Fighter, and The Other Guys ($51.2 million) were all international box office disappointments. 2 Guns will likely not change either star’s box office pattern – unlike what happened with Bette Davis and Joan Crawford 51 years ago, as What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? became a huge box office hit, and a cultural landmark to boot.
2 Guns currently has a mediocre 44 percent approval rating and 5.6/10 average among the top critics at rottentomatoes.com.
Denzel Washington & Mark Wahlberg topline 2 Guns cast
Besides Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, the 2 Guns cast includes Paula Patton, Bill Paxton, James Marsden, Fred Ward, Edward James Olmos, Robert John Burke, Greg Sproles, Patrick Fischler, Edgar Arreola, Derek Solorsano, and Tim Bell. Based on Steve Grant’s graphic novel, the 2 Guns screenplay is credited to Blake Masters (the TV series Law & Order: LA, Brotherhood).
The Icelandic-born Baltasar Kormákur’s previous credits include the Mark Wahlberg domestic sleeper hit Contraband; The Deep, Iceland’s selection for the 2012 Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award; and the quirky 2000 comedy 101 Reykjavik, starring Victoria Abril and Hilmir Snær Guðnason – a movie that feels universes away from the multiplex-friendly 2 Guns.
Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg 2 Guns movie image: Universal Pictures.
Matt Damon Elysium box office: Weekend leader?
Aug. 11 update: Directed by the widely acclaimed District 9’s Neill Blomkamp, the R-rated futuristic sociopolitical thriller Elysium, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, should have no trouble landing in the top spot at the North American box office this weekend. According to studio estimates found at Boxofficemojo.com, on Friday, Aug. 9, Elysium took in $11.2 million from 3,284 locations, including $1.6 million from Thursday night / midnight shows.
Up until Friday night, some pundits believed that Disney’s animated feature Planes might be a threat to Elysium, as it’s a “family movie” – i.e., adults must accompany little children to theaters, which means extra ticket sales especially on the weekend proper. And as a box office plus, Planes is in 3D, which means surcharges. But after Planes’ definitely earthbound box office performance on Friday – an estimated $8.1 million – it became clear that the weekend would belong to Elysium.
Of course, Sony Pictures must be happy that Elysium (distributed by Sony’s TriStar) will have the top spot at the domestic box office. On the other hand, they’re probably not too thrilled that their $115 million-budgeted futuristic saga will gross only around $30 million.
Matt Damon, Jodie Foster not enough to beat ‘District 9’
For comparison’s sake, District 9, made for a reported $30 million and featuring no stars and (back then) no name director, debuted with $37.53 million in North America in August 2009. District 9 eventually cumed at $115.64 million domestically and $95.17 million internationally. If the $30 million estimate is on target, the much costlier Elysium, despite the presence of Oscar winners Matt Damon (for the Good Will Hunting screenplay) and Jodie Foster (The Accused, The Silence of the Lambs), will have quite a bit of trouble passing the $100 million milestone in the U.S. and Canada. As so often happens with Hollywood’s megabudget productions, Elysium‘s box office salvation lies overseas.
In late May/early June, Sony Pictures’ other 2013 futuristic actioner, the $130 million-budgeted After Earth, opened with a highly disappointing $27.52 million. In fact, the M. Night Shyamalan-Will Smith collaboration’s total gross in North America was a dismal $60.27 million. The good news for Sony: After Earth was rescued by the international market: $184.21 million cume as found at Box Office Mojo.
Besides hero Matt Damon and villain Jodie Foster, Elysium features District 9‘s South African leading man Sharlto Copley, Mexican Diego Luna (Milk), and Brazilians Alice Braga (On the Road) and Wagner Moura (The Elite Squad), in addition to William Fichtner, Brandon Auret, Josh Blacker, Emma Trambley, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Maxwell Perry Cotton, Faran Tahir, Adrian Holmes, Jared Keeso, and Carly Pope.
Weekend box office: ‘Planes’ vs. ‘We’re the Millers’
At this stage, the likely no. 2 movie at the North American box office this weekend is no longer Planes, but the $37 million-budgeted We’re the Millers. Warner Bros.’ Rawson Marshall Thurber-directed (fake) family comedy starring Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter, and The Hangover movies’ Ed Helms is expected to pull in around $26 million from 3,260 venues according to Deadline.com – thus ahead of Planes’ expected $23 million at 3,704 sites.
Now, things aren’t that clear-cut. The $50 million-budgeted Planes could possibly reach $25 million, if Saturday and Sunday business is particularly strong (not unusual for kiddie flicks), while We’re the Millers could just as possibly end up with something slightly below that mark. Either way, We’re the Millers should have a five-day cume around $37 million.
Planes voice cast includes Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Teri Hatcher, Brad Garrett, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, John Cleese, Priyanka Chopra, Carlos Alazraqui, Roger Craig Smith, Anthony Edwards, Val Kilmer, Sinbad, and Gabriel Iglesias.
‘Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters’ flops
Now, the weekend’s big domestic flop-in-the-making is 20th Century Fox’s Thor Freudenthal-directed Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, a $90 million-budgeted fantasy starring Logan Lerman (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), which collected a paltry $13.75 million from Wednesday to Friday.
Despite widespread online buzz, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters has failed to connect with moviegoers. The sequel to the Chris Columbus-directed Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief should earn only $15-$16 million over the weekend proper, cuming at around $25 million by Sunday evening. For comparison’s sake, the first Percy Jackson movie brought in $31.23 million in its first three days out (Friday-Sunday) in February 2010, ultimately reaching $88.76 million in North America and $137.72 million elsewhere. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, for its part, may have trouble reaching $50 million.
Besides Logan Lerman, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, which should fare much better outside the U.S. and Canada, features Alexandra Daddario, Douglas Smith, Jake Abel, Anthony Head, Leven Rambin, Brandon T. Jackson, Nathan Fillion, Stanley Tucci, and Paloma Kwiatkowski.
Official weekend box office estimates come out on Sunday morning. Box-office actuals will be released on Monday.
Matt Damon Elysium photo: TriStar | Sony Pictures.
‘Elysium’ 2013 movie: The domestic weekend box office leader?
Aug. 10 update: So far, there are only guesstimates out there regarding this weekend’s domestic box office. Directed by District 9‘s Neill Blomkamp, the R-rated futuristic sociopolitical thriller Elysium, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, is expected to collect around $30-$35 million from 3,284 locations by Sunday evening, after grossing an estimated $1.6 million from Thursday night screenings. Anything below $30 million will be quite disappointing, considering that the TriStar/Sony Pictures-distributed Elysium cost a reported $115 million.
For comparison’s sake, M. Night Shyamalan / Will Smith’s $130 million-budgeted After Earth, another futuristic thriller distributed by Sony, debuted with a highly disappointing $27.52 million in late May/early June. After Earth cumed with a ridiculously low $60.27 million in North America – but has been rescued by the international market, where big-budget actioners usually fare remarkably well: $184.21 million, according to Boxofficemojo.com.
Another comparison: made for a reported $30 million, District 9, with no stars and (at the time) no name director, opened in the U.S. and Canada with $37.53 million in August 2009. District 9 went on to gross $115.64 million domestically and $95.17 million internationally. If it truly opens around $30 million, Elysium will still have trouble reaching the $100 million milestone in North America. Its box office salvation lies overseas.
Besides Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, Elysium features District 9‘s Sharlto Copley, Diego Luna, Alice Braga, Wagner Moura, William Fichtner, Brandon Auret, Josh Blacker, Emma Trambley, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Maxwell Perry Cotton, Faran Tahir, Adrian Holmes, Jared Keeso, Carly Pope.
Weekend box office: ‘Planes’ vs. ‘We’re the Millers’
Trailing Neill Blomkamp’s 2013 Elysium movie should be Disney’s 3D animated feature Planes, a Cars spin-off and made on a relatively low $50 million budget (originally, Planes was to have been a direct-to-video release). Pundits have given Planes, opening at 3,704 sites, a wide opening-weekend “berth”: quite possibly in the low $20 million range, but theoretically going all the way up to $30 million in case brats everywhere start throwing tantrums unless they’re taken to the movies on Saturday and Sunday.
Directed by Klay Hall, Planes voice cast includes Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Teri Hatcher, Brad Garrett, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, John Cleese, Priyanka Chopra, Carlos Alazraqui, Roger Craig Smith, Anthony Edwards, Val Kilmer, Sinbad, and Gabriel Iglesias.
In either second (possibly, but not likely, ahead of Planes) or third place at the North American box office should be the Warner Bros.-distributed, Rawson Marshall Thurber-directed (fake) family comedy We’re the Millers. Starring Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter, and The Hangover movies’ Ed Helms, We’re the Millers has taken in $11.5 million since its Wednesday debut. Another $22–$25 million is expected from Friday to Sunday, for a five-day grand total around $34–$36 million. For comparison’s sake: Horrible Bosses collected $36.1 million in its first five days out (Friday-Tuesday) in July 2011.
‘Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters’ bombs
Now, the weekend’s expected domestic flop is Thor Freudenthal’s 20th Century Fox-distributed Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, a $90 million-budgeted fantasy starring Logan Lerman, which has collected a measly $8.85 million since opening on Wednesday. It’s curious that Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters has enjoyed tons of online buzz, but somehow that hasn’t translated into millions of movie tickets sold. The sequel to Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief should rake in around $26-$30 million by Sunday evening. For comparison’s sake, the first Percy Jackson movie earned $31.2 million in its first three days out in 2010, cuming at $88.8 million domestically and $137.7 million internationally.
Besides Logan Lerman, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, which should fare much better outside North America, features Alexandra Daddario, Douglas Smith, Leven Rambin, Brandon T. Jackson, Nathan Fillion, Stanley Tucci, Jake Abel, Anthony Head, and Paloma Kwiatkowski.
Bald, tattooed, shirtless Matt Damon Elysium image: TriStar | Sony Pictures.
Oprah Winfrey to help The Butler top the domestic box office?
About a week ago, Oprah Winfrey was in the news for being told that a $38,000 crocodile-skin purse at a store in Zurich wasn’t really for her. The uproar was related to racism: possibly, supposedly, maybe the saleswoman-for-the-filthy-rich felt that a black woman wouldn’t be able to afford a $38,000 crocodile-skin purse, even though those stores for the disgustingly megarich – I mean, $38,000 for a goddamned purse? Crocodile skin? – surely cater to the wives and mistresses and aunts of megarich African entrepreneurs and dictators alike.
Fast forward a week or so and … Oprah Winfrey is back in the news as a result of another “incident” related to ethnic issues: the weekend debut of Lee Daniels’ The Weinstein Company-distributed The Butler, about a black butler in the appropriately named White House. The Butler is also the movie that almost had to be renamed because of a pathetically bizarre dispute between TWC and Warner Bros. over its title. But more on that below.
Anyhow, The Butler, much like Disney’s The Help two years ago, may be about to become a late summer sleeper hit – if various reports are to be believed, at least in part thanks to Oprah Winfrey (and perhaps that little $38,000 crocodile-skin purse uproar). Featuring Forest Whitaker in the title role, Oprah Winfrey as his wife, Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan, Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan, James Marsden as John F. Kennedy, and about a dozen other stars as various Washington denizens throughout the decades, Lee Daniels’ movie is expected to gross anywhere between $24-$25 million by Sunday evening, after collecting an estimated $8.32 million from 2,933 locations on Friday, according to figures found at Box Office Mojo. If the $30 million-budgeted The Butler does reach $25 million, that’ll be about 25 percent above what some box office prognosticators had been expecting. (Sunday Update: The Butler opened with an estimated $25 million this weekend, Aug. 16-18, 2013.)
Sunday Update: As for The Butler‘s competitors, Kick-Ass 2 was a major box office disappointment, raking in only $13.6 million – quite some ways behind the first Kick-Ass’ $19.8 million and even below already modest early estimates ($14-$15 million). Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloë Grace Moretz star.
Meanwhile, both Jobs and Paranoia have totally bombed. Starring Ashton Kutcher, the Steve Jobs biopic (or hagiography, according to some critics) Jobs opened with $6.7 million from 2,381 sites, while Paranoia, the latest Harrison Ford box office disaster (also featuring The Hunger Games’ Liam Hemsworth), debuted with $3.5 million from 2,459 locations according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.
The Butler vs. The Help & Precious
For comparison’s sake: The Help debuted with $26 million at 2,534 theaters in mid-August 2011. Directed by Tate Taylor, and featuring Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard, Viola Davis, Mike Vogel, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, Sissy Spacek, Mary Steenburgen, Chris Lowell, Ahna O’Reilly, Allison Janney, Brian Kerwin, and Cicely Tyson, The Help went on gross $169.7 million in North America. International figures were much more modest: $41.9 million, probably helped by the film’s four Academy Award nominations (including Best Picture); after all, the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s remains an issue most people outside the United States know or care little about – if at all.
Considering that The Butler is a Weinstein Company release, expect lots of awards-season buzz and several key Oscar nominations. If all goes well, that should translate into solid long-term box office prospects for Lee Daniels’ film in the U.S. – but considerably less so overseas, where American presidents and their butlers aren’t of interest unless there’s an alien and/or monster invasion of some sort of other. Preferably in 3D.
Also worth noting, Lee Daniels’ Precious, featuring Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique, and Paula Patton, opened (in wide release) with $10.9 million from 629 North American venues in late November 2009. (Precious stayed in limited release for two weeks.) The $10 million-budgeted Precious ultimately cumed with a good $47.7 million in North America, in addition to a poor $16.08 million internationally according to figures found at Box Office Mojo.
‘The Butler’ is a Butler by any other name
Apparently, amnesia (or dementia) set in at the time of the Warner Bros. vs. The Weinstein Company dispute over The Butler‘s title, as no one was able to remember Lee Daniels’ 2009 drama Push, which became Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire after Push became a Chris Evans / Dakota Fanning adventure sci-fier. And let’s not forget Crash – but which Crash? David Cronenberg’s psychological drama about kinky sex and body parts, or the Paul Haggis-directed fantasy that caused one of the biggest upsets in Oscar history when it beat Brokeback Mountain? Anyhow, The Butler is now officially titled Lee Daniels’ The Butler – sort of like Federico Fellini’s Satyricon, or Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2, and so on.
Well, studio attorneys make good money; studios likely feel the need to keep them busy doing no matter what to justify their fat paychecks. And hey, everyone was talking about The Butler long before the movie’s release date. That’s what’s called Free Publicity – well, minus the attorneys’ fees.
The Butler movie cast
Besides Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda, Alan Rickman, and James Marsden, The Butler features Robin Williams as Dwight D. Eisenhower, John Cusack as Richard Nixon, Minka Kelly as Jacqueline Kennedy, Liev Schreiber as Lyndon B. Johnson, and Nelsan Ellis as Martin Luther King Jr. Other cast members include Vanessa Redgrave, Alex Pettyfer, David Oyelowo, Mariah Carey, Danny Strong, Colin Walker, Jim Gleason, Terrence Howard, Lenny Kravitz, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Alex Manette.
The Butler was written by Danny Strong (the Sarah Palin cable movie Game Change, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 and Part 2), from an article by Wil Haygood.
Official weekend estimates come out on Sunday morning. Weekend box office actuals will be released on Monday.
See also: Denzel Washington thriller The Equalizer 3 opens below predecessors in the domestic market – once inflation is factored in.
Oprah Winfrey and Terrence Howard in The Butler movie image: The Weinstein Company.