High concept R-rated thriller The Purge took the box office by storm with a very unexpected $34 million opening. Sure, we’ve had much better numbers so far this year but we’re talking about a very low-budget ($3 million) movie here. Not since Paranormal Activity 2 (2010) we’ve had the chance to witness such quick return on investment at the box office.
So what is The Purge besides the points laid out in the intro? Imagine a North America with unemployment at 1% and crime-rates at an all time low. Well this idyllic scenario is possible (in the world of The Purge at least) thanks to an annual 12-hour period in which all crime is legal. Yes, that absolutely includes murder (how else would they achieve such low unemployment rates). Intrigued yet? More than a few million people certainly were enough to check The Purge on opening weekend, pushing the thriller to $34 million. That’s an all time high for star Ethan Hawke, an actor that just doesn’t seem to get enough of these high concept movies (Getaway, opening in August, involves him driving a car for the vast majority of the running time). For Game of Thrones‘ Lena Heady The Purge is only second to 300 ($70.8 million) when it comes to debuts.
Fast & Furious 6 dropped some more in 2nd with $19.6 million, thus moving above the $200 million mark. This week it will pass Fast Five‘s $209.8 million for a new series best. Ultimately the flick should end up around $240 million in North America.
PG-13 heist movie Now You See Me moves to 3rd at $19 million and a total of $60.9 million. Under most circumstances that would be a great result, and it really is, but this caper cost a hefty $75 million. Bottom line, it still has a way to go before hitting profitability, and even that is strongly dependent on how well it will perform internationally.
Two hour mediocre Google commercial The Internship started its run in 4th with $17.3 million. Seems that teaming up Night at the Museum director Shawn Levy with Wedding Crashers stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson wasn’t enough to push this stinker past $20 million.
Epic rounds out the top 5 with the lowest drop in the top 10, down just 28.5% for $11.8 million. So far the Blue Sky animation has grossed $83.9 million, on its way to finish above 100 million.