"2 Guns" had the ammunition to hit No. 1 at the box office this weekend, leaving "The Smurfs 2" feeling wounded.
The action flick starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg shot to the top of the charts with a healthy debut of $27.4 million, according to an estimate from distributor Universal Pictures. The 3-D animated sequel featuring the classic blue characters, meanwhile, launched with a disappointing $18.2 million -- only about half as much as the original collected over its opening weekend in 2011. The second movie, which opened last Wednesday, has now grossed an underwhelming total of $27.8 million domestically, but will likely make up major ground overseas.
“2 Guns,” financed by production company Emmett/Furla Films for $61 million, marks yet another win for Washington. The 58-year-old has proved to be one of the most reliable box office draws in Hollywood -- particularly when he appears in action movies. His last five films -- including “Safe House” and “Flight” -- have worked, meaning he hasn’t had a major commercial misfire since 2007’s period piece “The Great Debaters.”
The movie also puts Wahlberg, 42, back on the right track after the actor suffered two flops this year in “Pain & Gain” and “Broken City.” In the film, he and Washington play two criminals-turned-undercover lawmen who are trying to catch a drug lord.
Surprisingly, the opening weekend crowd for “2 Guns” was just a smidge more female than male, as 51% of the audience were women. Those who saw the movie were generally older -- 77% were over the age of 25 -- and assigned the film an average grade of B+, according to market research firm CinemaScore.
With its slow start in the U.S. and Canada this weekend, "The Smurfs 2" won't gross the $142.6 million the original did domestically. But like the first film, the second should be ultimately successful because of international ticket sales, which comprised 74% of the original's $563.7-million worldwide tally. "The Smurfs" was created in 1958 by Belgian comic-book artist Pierre Culliford, and the tiny blue cartoon characters have been beloved by foreigners ever since.
"We hoped for more domestically, but internationally, it's well on its way to being a huge success," said Rory Bruer, distribution president for Sony Pictures, which financed the $110 million production. “There have been a tremendous amount of PG-rated films released over the last several months, and that’s all I can point to as to why it was a bit soft here.”
This weekend, "The Smurfs 2" launched in 43 foreign markets and collected $52.5 million -- down 4% from the original's launch. The movie did best in Russia, where it grossed $5.4 million but also collected a solid $4.2 million in France, where Culliford's characters are particularly popular. The sequel has yet to open in 40 countries, including China, where the first film was most successful with almost $40 million in sales.
While critics loathed the picture in the U.S., audiences still enjoyed it, assigning the family film an average grade of A-. Roughly 63% of the crowd was female, and the same percentage was under the age of 25.
"All is good in our blue world. It’s a franchise we love and are going to continue forward in a big way with," said Bruer, confirming that the studio will make a third "Smurfs" movie.
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