Neither mediocre reviews nor one of the dopiest premises in recent memory could overcome the power of social media this weekend, as a wave of viral buzz and a well coordinated online media campaign helped turn "The Purge" into a surprise smash to the tune of $36.4 million.
That was far above industry expectations and more than enough to beat out two-time returning champion "Fast & Furious 6," which earned $19.8 million in its third weekend. Not that anyone at Universal is complaining; that was still enough to land "Fast & Furious 6" in second place and push the film's domestic gross over the $200 million mark. Plus, Universal also owns "The Purge," so this was a win-win for them.
The same cannot be said, however, for Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson's new comedy "The Internship." Widely expected to contend for the top spot thanks to "Wedding Crashers" nostalgia, the film instead earned terrible reviews to go along with just a so-so $18.1 million in its opening weekend. We wonder what comes up if you google "box office disappointment?"
And things were even worse for returning dud "After Earth" and the underperforming comedy sequel "The Hangover Part III," as both films faded out of the top five. Both films, however, have been performing well overseas.
Overall it was an up week across the board for the movie industry, thanks in part to rainy weather along the East Coast driving people indoors. And next weekend could be even bigger, with the superhero blockbuster "Man of Steel" and the ensemble comedy "This Is the End" set to shake things up.
For now, though, it's a horrific view of a dystopian America that reigns supreme — and in a world where "The Purge" and not "Before Midnight" is the most popular Ethan Hawke film of the summer, maybe that future isn't so far-fetched after all.
Here's a look at the full box office top ten, courtesy of Hollywood.com:
1. "The Purge" - $36.4m (our review)
2. "Fast & Furious 6" - $19.8m (our review)
3. "Now You See Me" - $19.5m (our review)
4. "The Internship" - $18.1m (our review)
5. "Epic" - $12.1m (our review)
6. "Star Trek Into Darkness" - $11.7m (our review)
7. "After Earth" - $11.2m (our review)
8. "The Hangover Part III" - $7.5m (our review)
9. "Iron Man 3" - $5.8m (our review)
10. "The Great Gatsby" - $4.3m (our review)