In a surprising turn, the low-budget horror film “The Purge” raked in $36.4 million this weekend, handily beating out the Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson comedy “The Internship” for movie box-office supremacy. The Ethan Hawke horror flick raked in more than double the $18.1 million grossed by “The Internship” during its soft opening weekend.
Nobody -- not even the film’s producers at Universal Studios -- anticipated “The Purge” would come out on top of the weekend box office, according to the Hollywood Reporter, The flick, set in a future where all crime is legal for one night each year, was expected to earn about $20 million over the weekend, but a large turnout of young women and Hispanic moviegoers propelled the film to the top of the box office.
“We didn't expect anything near this result,” Nikki Rocco, Universal president of domestic distribution, told the Hollywood Reporter. “The social-media campaign really paid off, as well as the traditional campaign.”
But the most impressive thing about “The Purge” isn’t its unlikely box-office receipts. “The Purge” cost Universal a grand total of $3 million to make, meaning that this weekend’s $36 million opening alone scored the film a gross over 10 times its budget. If “The Purge” continues to stay strong at the box office, it’s likely that Universal will turn the movie into the cornerstone of a low-budget franchise similar to those constructed on “Paranormal Activity” and “Saw.”
While “The Purge” came out on top, “The Internship” opened to perilously low numbers. The comedy was billed as a spiritual sequel to 2005’s smash hit “Wedding Crashers,” reuniting Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as down-and-out salesmen who land internships at Google. Despite its once-impressive cast, however, “The Internship” failed to perform, likely due to its softened PG-13 rating and moviegoers’ perceptions of product placement, as noted by Vulture.
Ultimately, “The Internship” ranked fourth at the box office this weekend, as it also came in behind the previously released films “Fast & Furious 6” and “Now You See Me.” In contrast to “The Purge,” “The Internship” cost roughly $58 million to produce, making it unlikely the comedy will turn a profit anytime soon.
Check out the top 10 films at the box office this weekend, according to Box Office Mojo.
1. “The Purge,” $36.38 million
2. “Fast & Furious 6,” $19.76 million
3. “Now You See Me,” $19.50 million
4. “The Internship,” $18.10 million
5. “Epic,” $12.10 million
6. “Star Trek Into Darkness,” $11.70 million
7. “After Earth,” $11.20 million
8. “The Hangover Part III,” $7.38 million
9. “Iron Man 3,” $5.79 million
10. “The Great Gatsby,” $4.23 million
Eric Brown is an IBTimes political reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.