The Purge easily led the way at the box office this weekend with $34.06 million. The ultra-low budget R-rated thriller from Universal absolutely blew past pre-release expectations, which had ranged more in the neighborhood of $20 million to $25 million. There is no doubt that The Purge was helped out tremendously by the very high volume of online discussion the film generated in the weeks leading up to its release. The Purge opened 62 percent stronger than the $20.998 million debut of 2008's The Strangers and 89 percent stronger than the $18.01 million start of last year's Sinister (which also starred Ethan Hawke).
It should be noted that the weekend actual for The Purge did come in below Sunday's studio estimate by roughly $2.3 million. The Purge was quite front-loaded this weekend, which is commonplace with most horror films and thrillers that perform well at the box office. After opening with $16.78 million on Friday (which included an estimated $3.4 million from late night Thursday shows), The Purge fell 38 percent on Saturday to gross $10.46 million and fell 35 percent on Sunday to gross $6.82 million. That placed the opening weekend to Friday ratio for the film at 2.03 to 1. The audience breakdown for The Purge skewed towards female moviegoers (56 percent) and towards moviegoers under 25 (56 percent). The Purge received a C rating on CinemaScore, which is respectable given the film's genre. Given the film's strong performance and low overall cost, it should only be a matter of time before we see a sequel to The Purge.
Fellow Universal release Fast & Furious 6 took second with $19.63 million. In the process, the action sequel surpassed the $200 million domestic milestone this weekend. After a harsh second weekend decline last weekend, Fast & Furious 6 stabilized this weekend by falling 44 percent. The third weekend decline for Fast & Furious 6 was harsher than the 37 percent 2011's Fast Five fell in its third weekend, but not as sharp as the 57 percent 2009's Fast & Furious declined during its third weekend. With a 17-day take of $202.81 million, Fast & Furious 6 is running 19.5 percent stronger than the $169.69 million 17-day take of Fast Five.
Holding up very nicely this weekend was Now You See Me. The ensemble thriller from Lionsgate placed in third with $19.04 million. That represented a decline of just 35 percent from last weekend's already stronger than expected opening weekend performance. Now You See Me continues to exceed expectations with a ten-day take of $60.91 million. That places the film an impressive 30 percent ahead of the $46.77 million ten-day take of 2008's 21 (which fell 36 percent in its second weekend to gross $15.34 million). Now You See Me will hope to continue to hold up well going forward, though doing so will be much tougher next week with both Warner's Man of Steel and Sony's This Is The End entering the summer marketplace.
The Internship debuted in fourth place this weekend with $17.33 million. The PG-13 comedy from Fox opened in line with expectations (with word of mouth from last week's sneak previews having likely having helped the film's cause a bit). However, this weekend's performance was nonetheless a lackluster one given that the film was built around the reuniting of Wedding Crashers co-stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. The Internship opened 49 percent softer than the $33.90 million start of 2005's Wedding Crashers, but did manage to open 36 percent ahead of the disastrous $12.75 million debut of last year's The Watch. Clearly, neither Vaughn nor Wilson is anywhere near the type of box office draw that either used to be.
The Internship took in $6.47 million on Friday (an opening day take that was boosted by an estimated $800,000 from late night Thursday shows), increased 3 percent on Saturday to take in $6.65 million and fell and fell 37 percent on Sunday to gross $4.21 million. The opening weekend to Friday ratio for the film was a so-so 2.68 to 1. The Internship received a somewhat encouraging B+ rating on CinemaScore, though that may not mean as much as it normally would going forward with direct competition in the form of This Is The End arriving on Wednesday.
In other domestic box office news, Warner's The Hangover Part III surpassed the $100 million mark after grossing $7.34 million this weekend. Meanwhile, Paramount's Star Trek Into Darkness just missed surpassing the $200 million mark after grossing $11.43 million this weekend and will reach the milestone today. Respective total grosses stand at $199.87 million for Star Trek Into Darkness in 25 days and at a much poorer than expected $102.34 million for The Hangover Part III through 18 days.
On the platform front, Roadside's Much Ado About Nothing was off to a solid start of $171,941 this weekend. The Joss Whedon directed adaptation of the Shakespeare comedy earned a per-location average of $34,388 from five locations. Much Ado About Nothing is scheduled to receive a major expansion on June 21.