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Purge kicks in the door at No. 1

By MICHAEL WHITE AND DAWN KOPECKI BLOOMBERG NEWS

This article was published June 14, 2013 at 3:01 a.m.

owen-wilson-left-and-vince-vaughn-star-in-the-internship-it-came-in-fourth-at-last-weekends-box-office-and-made-more-than-17-million

Owen Wilson (left) and Vince Vaughn star in The Internship. It came in fourth at last weekend’s box office and made more than $17 million.

The Purge, the low-budget, home-invasion horror movie, unexpectedly topped film sales in U.S. and Canadian theaters last weekend as the Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson comedy The Internship came in fourth for 20th Century Fox.

The Purge, the first in a partnership between Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures and Jason Blum, producer of Paranormal Activity, beat expectations with $34 million in ticket sales, according to researcher Hollywood.com. The Internship, from News Corp.’s studio and Regency Enterprises, had $17.3 million in sales, which wasn’t enough to beat holdovers Fast & Furious 6 and Now You See Me.

Starring Ethan Hawke, The Purge was made for $3 million and, like past Blum successes such as the Paranormal Activity series, Insidious and Sinister, it focuses on storytelling while using few special effects. The movie also benefited from weak competition as studios avoided introducing major films ahead of this weekend’s release of Man of Steel, Warner Bros.’ reboot of the Superman franchise.

“The Blumhouse team really develops good, high-concept films,” said Phil Contrino, chief analyst at Boxoffice.com. “These are very basic stories. You watch the trailer for The Purge and you know what you are going to get.”

“The film will struggle to hold its audience [this] weekend with the debut of Man of Steel because of the overlap in viewers with that movie,” Contrino said. “Given the film’s tiny budget, one weekend may be all The Purge needs.” Contrino raised his forecast for the film to as much as $30 million, from $21 million, based on reports of strong opening-day sales.

The Purge is set in a future United States where all laws are suspended for one night a year to allow people to vent their rage and anger. Police take the night off. Hawke stars as the husband whose home is besieged after his son breaks the rules by giving shelter to a man being chased by a murderous gang.

News Corp.’s The Internship, made for $58 million, beat the $15.6 million opening-weekend forecast by Boxoffice.com.

“We are pleased with the opening,” said Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution for 20th Century Fox.“We had expected the opening in the midteens.”

It stars Vaughn and Wilson as unemployed 40-somethings who gain coveted internships at Google Inc. The technologically challenged pair quickly find themselves outclassed by new college graduates competing for a few full-time jobs.

Google cooperated with the filmmakers, allowing portions to be shot at its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters and Sergey Brin, co-founder of the search company, makes a cameo appearance. Critics have panned the film, which is directed by Shawn Levy with a script by Vaughn and Jared Stern, saying the humor is stale and the story too adoring of Google. Of the 98 reviews compiled on Rottentomatoes.com, 66 were negative.

Among returning films, Fast & Furious 6 fell to second with $19.6 million in sales after two weeks in first place. The film, also from Universal, has taken in $202.8 million since it was released on May 24.

Now You See Me, from Lionsgate Entertainment Corp., dropped to third from second, taking in $19 million.

MovieStyle, Pages 34 on 06/14/2013

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