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Weekend Box Office: Elysium Tops Weekend, We're the Millers Strikes Comedy Gold

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By Chris Kavan - 08/11/13 at 09:52 PM CT

Even though August is usually considered a quieter month, the box office continued to show surprising success. All four major releases took the top four spots, helping the top twelve films gain an 8% increase from the same period as last year. It turns out there is room for four major releases, even if that meant the spread of wealth wasn't exactly equal. When the competition is this fierce, something has to give.

1) ELYSIUM

Opening wtih $30.4 million, Elysium took the top spot for the weekend. Yet while it opened on top, it has to be considered a bit disappointing considering Neill Blomkamp's District 9 (without the benefit of any major stars) opened with $37.4 million. Compared to other sci-fi films this year, it couldn't top Pacific Rim or Oblivion (both of which opened to over $37 million) thought it did manage to edge out After Earth ($27.5 million). The film can boast one record - the $4.9 million IMAX take is the best for any film opening in August. Still, an original R-rated sci-fi film is a tough sell (even with the star power attached) and the B Cinemascore isn't likely to attract any casual fans meaning the film will probably fall short of $100 million. I hope it doesn't discourage Blomkamp from future projects - people still need to take chances on originality, even when the results are mixed.

2) WE'RE THE MILLERS

Although it had to settle for second place this weekend, the $26.55 million wasn't too far behind Elysium. Plus, We're the Millers opened early and, taking into account those two extra days, it actually beat Elysium with a $38 million five-day opening. That opening is better than both Tropic Thunder and Pineapple Express - both of which also boasted a five-day August opening. The film benefited from excellent counter-programming while also providing the first major comedic release since The Heat (seven weeks ago). That meant audiences looking for this genre turned out - and they awarded the film an A- Cinemascore. Whether it will have enough gas to reach the $100 million mark remains to be seen - but I think this film actually stands a better chance than Elysium of breaking that mark.

3) PLANES

Releasing a film in theaters that was originally going to go straight to video sounds like a mighty gamble. Disney went with it and Planes scored a decent $22.5 million opening. Thought that total is nowhere in the realm of Pixar openings, the film also had a modest $50 million budget. That is the best opening for any animated film in August (not that competition is tough in that department). Families seem to be a bit selective this year, as Planes also represents the third straight film targeted at them to fall below a $25 million opening. Despite the looming presence of school that will tame most families, the A- Cinemascore should mean it will hold up well enough in the coming weeks to earn back its budget - and international grosses will surely propel it over $100 million. Somehow there is already a sequel greenlit - go figure.

4) PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS

Given it has been over three years since we last saw Percy Jackson on screen, the $14.6 million weekend opening may not be that bad of start. Yet its five-day total ($23.5 million) was still lower than the original film's opening weekend ($31.2 million). Given the somewhat lack of interest in the first film, it is going to be the international market that determines how profitable the film ultimately winds up. If it can beat the $137 million total of the original film, consider it a win.

5) 2 GUNS

With two new R-rated films coming out, 2 Guns took a pretty massive 59% hit and nearly toppled out of the top five. With $11.1 million in fifth, the film raised its total to $48.5 million. The movie might have enough juice to make it to the $61 million its budget cost, but it probably won't reach too far beyond that. Still, as far as action films go it still is one of the brighter spots for 2013 - which is really saying something about how badly the genre has fared this year.

Outside the top five: Woody Allen's latest film, Blue Jasmine, continued to expand and continued to improve. Adding 66 theaters (for a total of 116) the film took in $2.5 million (jumping from 14th to 11th place in the process) and scoring a still-impressive $21,750 per-theater average. It continues to perform above the levels of Midnight in Paris, though the real test is still how general audiences are going to react. It should hit nationwide numbers on the Aug. 23rd and then we'll see how it really holds up.

Chennai Express scored the best opening for any Bollywood film to date with a $2.22 million debut (13th place). It also took sixth place for any foreign-language opening (though its 196 theater count is much higher than most foreign films that open to only a handful of theaters). I wouldn't be surprised if this continuing success of Bollywood means we'll see more and more opening in more theaters to even bigger numbers as there is obviously a market for them.

Next week is another crowded weekend. The action sequel Kick-Ass 2 sucker punches its way on screen, as does the Jobs - the Steve Jobs biopic starring Ashton Kutcher. For those looking for Oscar contenders, Lee Daniels' The Butler promises to bring some heavy tones (along with featuring an eclectic cast from Oprah to Robin Williams to Jane Fonda) and finally Paranoia has Liam Hemsworth trapped between two corporate titans in the form of Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman - neither of whom play very fair. My my my - it should be another interesting battle.

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