Box Office: Game Over for Pixels?

pixels_picA photo from Chris Columbus’ Pixels (via GameZone)

Over the Weekend…

As Chris Columbus’ Pixels concludes, the words “Game Over” appear on the screen. A clear reference to the film we’ve just seen – in which software installer Adam Sandler, POTUS Kevin James (yes, you read that correctly), incarcerated Peter Dinklage, and conspiracy theorist Josh Gad (all former video-game champs) and Lieutenant Colonel Michelle Monaghan battle aliens via real-life, large-scale video games – it’s also quite prescient.

Pixels debuted in second place with a less-than-animated $24 million. Early projections, which ranged from $29 to $39 million, suggested a box-office victory. Better numbers would have paved the way for longer box-office legs, which could have landed Pixels‘ nostalgia-heavy execution of its video game-centric concept in Oscar’s initial visual-effects bakeoff. Perhaps Box Office Mojo‘s Ray Subers explains the film’s glitchy opening best:

The Adam Sandler vehicle […] should have had cross-generational nostalgic appeal […]. But Pixels relied […] too heavily […] on appealing to a generation that watched MTV when it actually showed music videos and hoping they’d bring their 8-bit obsessed progeny with them. Or maybe it signals an “out with the old, in with the new” shift, as […] Terminator Genisys is dragging itself to an equally disappointing $90M domestic finish (it made $2.4M this weekend). Or, most likely, it was the awful reviews.

Current projections have Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man topping the ant hill – er, box office – again in its second weekend with $24.77 million. Since its release on July 17, the Paul Rudd-led superhero flick has pulled in approximately $106 million in the U.S. alone. Still, it’s unlikely to stand out with crafts honors at the end of the year, given the plethora of effects-heavy flicks in the mix. (Disney-Marvel and, well, Disney have bigger fish to fry, no?)

In third are those yellow, seemingly androgynous but apparently male Minions. The Despicable Me spinoff squeaked an estimated $22.1 million; its domestic take has exceeded $250 million in just three weekends. The animated comedy should pass the domestic grosses of Shrek (2001; $267.67 million) and Monsters University (2013; $268.5 million) before next weekend unless the movie gods intervene. (Will it really get an animated-feature nod?)

Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck collects an estimated $17.3 million and lands in fourth. The comedy, scripted and led by comedian Amy Schumer, has guzzled down about $60.5 million in two weekends – slightly past Bridesmaids‘ (2011) second-weekend cume of $59.3 million. Are original-screenplay and best-actress bids for Schumer on the horizon, or will the motion-picture academy continue to ignore Apatow-helmed films?

Bowing in fifth place this weekend is Antoine Fuqua’s Southpaw. The Jake Gyllenhaal-led boxing drama fought mixed critical reception – tricky for a truly adult-oriented flick to knock out – to snag a $16.5 million debut. This film may not see much in the way of awards glory, but Gyllenhaal’s transformative(ish) performance may boost a campaign for Baltasar Korm√°kur’s Everest, set to kick off this year’s Venice Film Festival.

After a strong Friday showing, Jake Schreier’s Paper Towns more or less folded for a sixth-place opening. The teen drama made about $12.5 million, despite aiming for the same audience as last year’s massive Fault in Our Stars (opening: $48 million; cume: $124.87 million); both films are based on books written by John Green. To that end, since TFIOS missed the mark last year, don’t expect Oscar to pencil in Paper for year-end kudos.

Bill Condon’s Mr. Holmes banks roughly $2.85 million after expanding to 686 theaters (wide-ish release) from its initial 361 locations. The drama sits at $6.4 million after just two weekends. Ian McKellen remains something of a mystery in the best-actor race, but perhaps he can make some waves if Michael Caine loses steam for Youth.

Lastly for this weekend, Mark Neveldine’s The Vatican Tapes took $850,000 from a 427-location bow. Such numbers land the horror flick in what seems to be 15th place. It’s safe to say that this one might be done, right?

Check out the (estimated) weekend top 10 below.

  1. Ant-Man: $24.77 million
  2. NEW!!! Pixels: $24 million
  3. Minions: $22.1 million
  4. Trainwreck: $17.3 million
  5. NEW!!! Southpaw: $16.5 million
  6. NEW!!! Paper Towns: $12.5 million
  7. Inside Out: $7.36 million
  8. Jurassic World: $6.9 million
  9. Mr. Holmes: $2.85 million
  10. Terminator Genisys: $2.4 million

Next Weekend

Paramount and Warner Bros. respectively release Christopher McQuarrie’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein’s Vacation reboot this week. BOXOFFICE pegs Rogue, which debuts on Friday, for a $60 million opening; BOXOFFICE predicts Vacation, hitting theaters on Wednesday, for a $27 million weekend. For various reasons, neither film is high on our Oscar-prediction charts.

A24 will give James Ponsoldt’s drama The End of the Tour a limited release; Jason Segel’s turn may land a supporting-actor nod. IFC Films will debut Mary Agnes Donoghue’s lesbian-marriage comedy Jenny’s Wedding at two locations, according to Box Office Mojo. The Katherine Heigl-led film looks light, but the recent developments in United States marriage equality (that likely spurred IFC to release it this month) may throw it into the fray.

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