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article image'Lucy' takes down 'Hercules'; both films beat expectations

By Tim O'Brien     Jul 27, 2014 in Entertainment
Even though the two newcomers beat expectations, the box office blues continue for Hollywood. But, "Lucy" did out-muscle "Hercules" to take over the top spot. "Lucy" won out with an estimated $44 million while "Hercules' took in $29 million.
Scarlett Johansson gave the star power and punch to "Lucy," despite the flawed premise of humans only using 10 percent of their brains. Hollywood should never be looked at as a place for accuracy, and it is not really expected. Except for a historical drama unless "liberties" are taken in the story. In other words, never. Dwayne Johnson rocked with "Hercules," but in head-to-head battle, the female lead wins.
"Lucy" was projected at around $30-35 million and "Hercules," maybe $20-25 million. So, that is a bright spot. But, there is no sugar-coating it, the box office is down. The reasons will vary and be wide reaching, but the main one is this.
Perhaps it cannot be expected to always break records as it did for the last two years. Now, with the rising prices, this could be a boycott of sorts among the average movie-goer. The die-hard fans will still show up for their film genre the first weekend, and that has been the case. But to get those surprise hits and the box office repeat champs over and over again, they need more than the core audience.
But, looking out over the horizon, all one sees are superheroes. Good for certain studios, but for fans who do not like them or have been saturated by them, it may spell trouble.
Weekend
1. "Lucy" - $44 million
2. "Hercules" - $29 million
3. "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" - $16.4 million
The audience for "Lucy," according to The Wrap, broke evenly between male and female. However, they also noted that 65 percent of the female crowd were 25 years of age and older. Johansson's star power rose to the top here. A female lead and and R-rated film rated well with audiences. "Hercules" saw a male audience domination; of that, 64 percent over the age of 25, concluded The Wrap.
As summer winds down, one will look to just two more potential hits and then it shuts down, as is usual, though September. It is bad timing for a slow down. Observers will closely watch the returns for "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and then the country goes back to school and gets ready for football, both college and the NFL. Wait, add in high school football as well.
It is also the time when award season talk picks up. Those are the films that do not have the word "blockbuster" usually attached to them. What Hollywood really needs are for a few of them to take off and gross over $100 million, much like last year. If Oscar contenders are low-grossers, which many are, the enthusiasm factor lessons.
This report tracks those Oscar-worthy films and performances all year long, so check back often. For example, recent reports noted "Boyhood" and Philip Seymour Hoffman. This report tracks them when they get released, even if that is only two theaters. Once they go wide, it is old news here but not for audiences. So, stay on top of them before they go wide right here.
"A Most Wanted Man" was able to land at No. 10 despite being in only 361 theaters. Hoffman's character is garnering buzz right now. However, Woody Allen's "Magic in the Moonlight" is the per screen average winner. It stars Emma Stone and Colin Firth and was in 17 theaters. It made $426,000 and that is $25,059 per screen.
That is the sidebar story of the weekend. Allen's film and the slow roll-out are typical and his per screen averages are envious. On the other side, a film starring Diane Keaton and Michael Douglas did land in the top ten, but it was weak. "And So It Goes" is at No. 7 with $4.5 million.
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