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Monday, July 27, 2015

#BoxOffice Report: #AntMan Beats Bad #Pixels

Adam Sandler continues to disappoint in a very weak weekend

Story by Matt Cummings

In one of the closest Box Office races this year, Marvel Studios' Ant-Man held on to the number 1 spot, narrowly beating the competition, with an estimated $24.65 million. The Adam Sandler comedy Pixels arrived in second with $24m. But even as the battle raged all weekend - with Pixels beating Ant-Man on Friday, then the positions flip-flopping at least one more time between the days - it became clear box office hauls across the board were lower than expected.

But the sting behind Sandler's latest disappointment is particularly pronounced. Stilted by a juvenile script and sadly familiar characterizations of hot women needing ugly, stupid men, Pixels has been lambasted by both critics (earning only 19% on Rotten Tomatoes) and receiving only a 'B' on Cinemascore. Its $24m haul is among the lowest Sandler-led films and perhaps a warning that his stature has finally eroded.

Coming in at number 3 is Minions, at $22.93m. That's better than a 50% drop from last week's $49.27m. After a particularly strong opening weekend, Minions hasn't kept up with expectations, based mostly on mixed word of mouth. Still, it has already grossed $262.45 million in just 17 days, which should make 2015 more profitable than 2104 by this time. And considering its small cost to produce (a paltry $74m), we'll most likely see a sequel.

Another Universal release Trainwreck slid one spot to fourth with $17.28 million. The Amy Schumer comedy from director Judd Apatow was down only 43% which could prove that it has the muscle to perhaps hit $100m. Trainwreck has grossed $61.53 million in 10 days.

Depending on how you look at it, The Weinstein Company boxing drama Southpaw appeared as either as a disappointment in fifth place, or a welcomed surprise as the film looks to get viewers an early look at a possible Oscar contender. The Jake Gyllenhaal-Antoine Fuqua project bowed at $16.70m, beating out Gyllenhaal's $13.15 million debut for 2012's End of Watch. Although Southpaw received a worthy 'A' on CinemaScore, the question remains if audiences will come back to a story that both feels already done in other films (see Rocky) and is sadly played out in the trailers.

One question that is clear? Audiences stayed away from from the YA Paper Towns. Its sixth place start at $12.65 million opened well below expectations, apparently getting no good will from last year's The Fault in Our Stars. Towns is a good lesson in what happens when buzz fails to generate box office returns. The results: it was a stunning 74% below the $48m debut of Fault and even opened 19% below the $15.68m 2014's If I Stay debut. That's bad news no matter how you sell it.

With low returns like these, one cannot help but be concerned how it might affect the upcoming Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation. Although it has no competition when it releases on Friday, will that be enough to pull us out of this lull at the box office? One thing is for sure: no one can predict the success or failure of the box office, and Rogue Nation could either pull in Jurassic World numbers or under-perform as some tracking services are suggesting. It's really up the moviegoer to decide.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

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