Box Office: 'Super 8' is No. 1; 'Judy Moody' is a bummer
"Super 8," a film with an original concept and a cast of unknown stars, took the No. 1 spot at the box office this weekend -- a rarity for a movie released in a summer full of big-budget studio tentpoles.
The film, directed by J.J. Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg, grossed $37 million upon its debut, according to distributor Paramount Pictures. That was enough to beat out a movie from a more well-established franchise in its second week of release, "X-Men: First Class," which collected $25 million. Ticket sales for "First Class" dropped 55% -- the second-best hold for any of the five movies in the "X-Men" series. Meanwhile, "Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer," the weekend's other new film in wide release, only brought in a weak $6.3 million.
Heading into the weekend, it was unclear how wide of a reach "Super 8" would have. Tracking on the movie was not fantastic, which Paramount said was due to the fact that Abrams and the studio ran a secretive marketing campaign that didn't give away much of the movie's plot.
To create additional buzz before the film's opening, Paramount announced on Twitter last week that it would hold screenings of "Super 8" in 324 theaters nationwide Thursday. Those pulled in about $1 million, which is not included in the weekend's total gross.
Because Paramount only spent around $50 million to produce the movie, the film about four young friends who witness a mysterious train crash is off to a solid start at the box office. Still, word-of-mouth will be especially important for the movie in the coming weeks. Those who saw the well-reviewed "Super 8" liked it, giving it an average grade of "B+," according to market research firm CinemaScore. That's the same grade that both "True Grit" and "Bridesmaids" received, two sleeper hits that crossed generational divides whose success Paramount has said it hopes to replicate.
A large contingent of the "Super 8" audience -- 71% -- was over the age of 25. That seems to indicate that the film is being embraced by older movie lovers who grew up in the '80s and see "Super 8" as a modern version of films like "E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial" or "The Goonies."
Overseas, "Super 8" opened in nine foreign markets and collected $6.7 million, grossing $2.7 million of that total in Australia. The film will debut in an additional 16 countries, including Russia and Korea, next weekend.
Those who saw "Judy Moody" liked it as much as those who saw "Super 8," giving it an average grade of "B+." Unfortunately, far less moviegoers showed up to the film based on author Megan McDonald's book series.
But the soft opening will not hurt Relativity financially, as the company it said it did not invest any money in the film's production or marketing. The movie about a third grader on summer break was financed by Smokewood Entertainment Group, the production company behind 2009's "Precious," for about $20 million. Relativity received a fee from Smokewood to market and distribute the movie in the U.S. [Correction, 3:51 p.m.: An earlier version of this post mistakenly referred to Smokewood Entertainment Group as Smokehouse Entertainment Group.]
Meanwhile, after just 16 days in release, "The Hangover Part II" has already passed the $200 million mark at the domestic box office, as the raunchy film's total came to $216.6 million this weekend. "Pirates of the Carribbean: On Stranger Tides," which was released in the U.S. about a week earlier than the comedy sequel, also passed the same milestone this weekend. The film starring Johnny Depp has grossed $208.8 million domestically.
As expected, a largely family audience -- 88% -- turned up to see "Judy Moody." Of those who saw the film, 78% were female, and 60% were younger than 25.
Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office, with international grosses when available, according to studio estimates and Hollywood.com:
2. "X-Men: First Class" (Fox/Dune/Ingenious): $25 million on its second weekend, down 55%. Domestic total: $98.9 million. $42.2 million overseas in 66 foreign markets. International total: $124.2 million.
3. "The Hangover Part II" (Warner Bros./Legendary): $18.5 million on its third weekend, down 41%. Domestic total: $216.6 million. $38.3 million overseas in 55 foreign markets. International total: $215.5 million.
4."Kung Fu Panda 2" (Dreamworks Animation/Paramount): $16.6 million on its third weekend, down 30%. Domestic total: $126.9 million. $56.5 million overseas in 45 foreign markets. International total: $205 million.
5. "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (Disney): $10.8 million on its fourth weekend, down 40%. Domestic total: $208.8 million. $41.1 million overseas in more than 100 foreign markets. International total: $678 million.
6. "Bridesmaids" (Universal/Relativity): $10.1 million on its fifth weekend, down 16%. Domestic total: $123.9 million.
7. "Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer" (Relativity/Smokehouse): Opened to $6.3 million.
8. "Midnight in Paris" (Sony Pictures Classics): $6.1 million in 944 theaters, up from 147 theaters last weekend. Domestic total: $14.2 million.
9. "Thor" (Marvel/Paramount): $2.4 million on its sixth weekend, down 44%. Domestic total: $173.6 million. $600,000 overseas in 60 foreign markets. International total: $259 million.
10. "Fast Five" (Universal): $1.7 million on its seventh weekend, down 46%. Domestic total: $205.1 million. $5.9 million overseas in 63 foreign markets. International total: $378.3 million.]
Top photo: (From left) Gabriel Basso, Ryan Lee, Joel Courtney and Riley Griffiths star in "Super 8." Credit: Paramount Pictures.
Bottom photo: Heather Graham stars in "Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer."