Box Office: ‘Pixels’ Continues Adam Sandler’s Losing Streak in the U.S.

27 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Ant-Man’ inches past ‘Pixels’ to take first-place spot.

Executive producer Louis D’Esposito, actors Martin Donovan, Corey Stoll, Evangeline Lilly, Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Michael Pena, David Dastmalchian, Abby Ryder Fortson, Judy Greer, Wood Harris and Gregg Turkington, director Director Peyton Reed and producer Kevin Feige onstage during the world premiere of Marvel’s “Ant-Man”. (credit: Charley Gallay/Getty Images) LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Ant-Man” crept past new opener “Pixels” to claim the top spot at the box office this weekend by an ant-sized margin.

If Sunday’s horse-race estimates hold tomorrow, then “Ant-Man’s” sophomore weekend will have beaten the debut of the highly promoted (and highly derided) “Pixels,” the latest big-budget “comedy” from Adam Sandler.Marvel action flick “Ant-Man” stayed atop the US box office Sunday, edging out retro videogame comedy “Pixels” in estimated weekend North American ticket sales, industry data showed. “Pixels,” in which star Adam Sandler fights off a videogame-inspired alien invasion, made it to the number two spot its first weekend out with a $24 million take, according to industry tracker Exhibitor Relations.

Paul Rudd’s turn as the diminutive action star grossed $24.8 million in its second week, falling 57% from its debut and bringing its two-week total to $106 million. According to early studio numbers, Disney/Marvel’s “Ant-Man” has won the weekend at the North American box office with a take of $24.76-million — a sliver ahead of the $24-million that Sony’s “Pixels” grossed in its domestic debut. (Right on the tail of both is Universal’s “Minions,” still going strong with a $22.1-million take.) And even if “Pixels” somehow nudges ahead at the finish in Monday’s final numbers, it will be a Pyrrhic victory.

Pushed down a notch to third place was animated comedy “Minions,” a prequel to “Despicable Me” featuring three tiny mischief-making creatures. Sandler and his Happy Madison production company, generating a lackluster $24 million in ticket sales, including revenue from higher-priced Imax venues. “Pixels,” released by Sony and co-financed by LStar Capital and China Film Group, cost about $90 million to make. Vintage video-game characters like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong star alongside Adam Sandler and Kevin James in “Pixels,” about aliens who attack Earth using the 1980s-era arcade regulars. While studios always hope for the bragging rights of a No. 1 debut, the real issue here is whether or not the Adam Sandler end of the world comedy will make up its $88 million production budget. “It’s been a little competitive in the marketplace when you consider the extent of the performance of ‘Jurassic’ and ‘Inside Out,’” said Sony’s President of Worldwide Distribution Rory Bruer. “To get to where we opened to was quite good.” Critics were not fond of “Pixels,” which shows 1980s video arcade game characters attacking Earth, but younger audiences still turned out to theaters — an estimated 62 percent were under the age of 25. To put the opening in a longer context: Since Sandler became a film star 20 years ago, “Pixels” (when adjusted for inflation) represents the worst opening for any major-release comedy he’s starred in.

It reaped just over $22 million its third week in theaters. “Southpaw,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a boxer at the end of his bruising career, made its debut over the weekend, with a respectable $16.5 million box office take that put it in fifth place. It landed in second place with $24 million – a weak opening given the film’s costly budget, which a Sony spokesperson said came in at around $89 million. “Paper Towns,” based on a book by young-adult novelist John Green, folded under lofty expectations – it grossed only $12.5 million when many analysts expected more than $20 million. Paul Dergarabedian, Rentrak’s senior media analyst, said Sandler can still attract an audience, but the expensive film has a lot of ground to make up. Ever since last year’s Sony hack, it’s been interesting to see how the dirty laundry emailed between studio suits and agents has played out this year in commercial terms.

Also making its debut was sixth place “Paper Towns,” a road trip mystery movie based on the young adult novel by John Green, which made $12.5 million. “Jurassic World” continued pulling in moviegoers, scoring another $6.8 million for eighth place on its seventh weekend for a cumulative total of $611 million. A twist on the teen-romance movie, “Paper Towns” stars Nat Wolff as a reserved high-school senior whose adoration for a missing neighbor (Cara Delevingne) sends him on a quest to find her. For instance, one Sony gripe revealed last year complained about the “ridiculous” script for Cameron Crowe’s “Aloha,” which had an extremely soft $10-million opening this summer. Bruer added that the domestic performance of “Pixels” was “solid given all of the competition we faced.” Did moviegoing in North America suffer because of the mass shooting at a Louisiana theater during a showing of the Amy Schumer comedy “Trainwreck” on Thursday? The movie has opened in about 40% of international markets and grossed about $25 million, with a release in China scheduled for September. “Pixels” was one of two movies released this weekend that arrived with backing from China as the country tries to find ways to work with Hollywood and learn its trade.

The Fox film only cost $12 million to produce, but considering Green’s fan base and last year’s massive $48 million debut of “The Fault in Our Stars,” which Green also wrote, it’s a bit disappointing. Well, if “Pixels” doesn’t pick up its business — and if the version that was sanitized to appease Chinese censors doesn’t do boffo box office in that monster market — then the exposed Sony emailers may get their wish sooner than foreseen. * In comparing recent ’80s-nostalgia geek fare, “Pixels” couldn’t even muster half of last year’s debut for “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” ($65.6-million). * Speaking of a monster take: “Jurassic World” is now the third-biggest film ever, having passed “The Avengers” both domestically ($623.8-million to $623.4-million) and globally ($1.54-billion to $1.52-billion). But whether the decline was due to specific offerings on marquees or reluctance by ticket buyers to visit theaters after the shooting will likely never be known for certain. For the weekend, Marvel’s “Ant-Man” (Disney) was again the No. 1 draw, collecting an estimated $24.8 million, for a two-week total of $106.1 million. “Pixels” was second, followed by “Minions” (Universal), which took in about $22.1 million, for a three-week total of $261.6 million. “Trainwreck” (Universal) was fourth; the comedy sold $17.3 million in tickets, for a two-week total of $61.5 million.

Of the new releases, audiences liked “Southpaw” best and gave it an “A” grade, according to the CinemaScore market research firm. “Paper Towns” received a “B+” and “Pixels” received a “B.” In a major come-down for the author John Green, the second movie adaptation of one of his books, “Paper Towns” (20th Century Fox) fizzled in sixth place, taking in an estimated $12.5 million.

Earlier this month, Fox announced it had signed the author to a production deal, and an adaptation of his novel “Looking for Alaska” is under way at Viacom Inc.

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