Matt Damon has officially left Jason Bourne in the dust thanks to "Elysium," which gave the 42-year-old star his biggest opening weekend since he left the franchise following 2007's "The Bourne Ultimatum." The R-rated sci-fi flick was #1 with $30.5 million over the weekend, overcoming three widely released newcomers in the process.
"We're the Millers" defied industry expectations by beating Disney's "Planes." The R-rated marijuana-centered comedy earned $38 million since opening last Wednesday night, with $26.6 million of that made since Friday. Disney's "Cars" spinoff, featuring Dane Cook in the lead voice role, was #3 with an estimated weekend take of $22.5 million.
That left #4 to "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters." Its $14.6 million weekend was less than half its predecessor, "The Lightning Thief," which oddly enough was less faithful to the young adult book series than the latest installment.
Original, non-sequel science fiction material can be a hard sell to moviegoers outside of that particular niche. Set in a dystopian future where the rich live in a Utopian space station while the underclass toils away below, "Elysium" didn't match the opening weekend debuts of Tom Cruise's "Oblivion" or director Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim."
"Elysium" was more popular than Will Smith's critical and commercial bomb "After Earth," but it failed to live up to the opening weekend of filmmaker Neill Blomkamp's first film, "District 9." Blomkamp's freshman film opened with $37.5 million in 2009, against a $30 million production budget. It went on to earn $210 million worldwide.
Damon lavished praise on Blomkamp at San Diego Comic-Con, where he told MTV News that after scheduling prevented him from starring in James Cameron's gigantic "Avatar," he wasn't going to miss the chance to work with the director of "District 9." Sony spent a reported $115 million on "Elysium," which received decent reviews but didn't come close to the 90 percent positive critical average of "District 9," according to Rotten Tomatoes.
Despite its second-place finish, Entertainment Weekly wrote that the "big winner" was "We're the Millers," which reunited "Horrible Bosses" co-starsJennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis. While reviews of the film were decidedly mixed, audiences who saw it when it opened on Wednesday gave it a CinemaScore of "A-." Marketing efforts to put Aniston's strip tease front and center in red band trailers all summer certainly didn't hurt the draw for "We're the Millers."
"Planes" received even worse reviews than "Cars 2," Pixar's worst reviewed movie. While technically a DisneyToon Studios film, "Planes" was spun-off from the "Cars" franchise and boasted Pixar boss John Lasseter as executive producer. Given that "Planes" was once headed to direct-to-DVD land and that its production budget was $50 million (by comparison, "Cars 2" cost $200 million), its weekend debut was fairly decent.
The previous weekend's #1 film, "2 Guns," rounded out the top five with $11.1 million for a total of $48.5 million.
Meanwhile, Amanda Seyfried's "Lovelace" floundered in limited release, while Bollywood flick "Chennai Express" did great business. Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine" continued its successful expansion into more theaters.
Like last weekend, this coming weekend will see another foursome crowding theaters: "Jobs," the Ashton Kutcher-led biopic about Apple's late co-founder; R-rated comic book sequel "Kick-Ass 2"; corporate espionage thriller "Paranoia," starring Liam Hemsworth and Harrison Ford; and the Oscar-bait drama "Lee Daniels' The Butler."