‘Hercules’ loses to ‘Lucy’


Scarlett Johansson action vehicle Lucy far outpaced The Rock’s Hercules this weekend, grossing $44 million to the latter’s $29 million. Although total box office revenue was once again down from this same frame last year, Lucy’s success offers good news for viewers. The film is this summer's third female-driven movie to surpass expectations, along with The Fault in Our Stars and Maleficent. Several fanboy offerings that should have been surefire hits, such as The Amazing Spider-Man 2 or even Transformers: Age of Extinction, which, for all its overseas success, opened behind its predecessors domestically, underperformed. Increasingly, women are asserting their power at the box office, and execs are surely taking note for future projects. Similarly heartening is the recent spate of successes enjoyed by Lucy distributor Universal. Why? Lucy is the studio’s fourth film to open at No. 1 this year, after Lone Survivor, Ride Along and Neighbors, not one of which is a sequel, prequel or spin-off. In other words, Lucy appears to embody a recent trend that could well double as an industry lesson: audiences respond to films with strong women and original premises. Who’d have thought?

The just-shy of $30 million total enjoyed by Hercules marks a solid debut for the action flick, though it doesn’t measure up to a hit like The Rock’s The Scorpion King, which bowed to $36 million over a decade ago. Where Lucy skewed female, Hercules’ audience was 58 percent male, as well as 64 percent over the age of 25. These viewers were more or less pleased with what they saw, awarding the movie a B+ CinemaScore grade. (To compare, Lucy earned a lackluster C+.) With Guardians of the Galaxy opening this weekend, Hercules is fated to suffer an imminent steep dip in sales. Total earnings of $100 million seem unlikely, but $75 million or so are well within the film’s reach.

Third and fourth place went to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and The Purge: Anarchy, respectively, with the former enduring a not-too-bad 55 percent downturn to gross $16.4 million, and the latter suffering a steeper dip of 67 percent to earn $9.9 million. Planes: Fire and Rescue swooped in for a $9.3 million fifth-place standing, while the disappointing Sex Tape limped in at No. 6 with $6 million.

The specialty box-office saw something of a hit in Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man, one of the last films to feature the last Philip Seymour Hoffman. Though the movie screened in only 361 theatres, it managed to crack the Top 10, coming in just under No. 9’s Tammy ($3.4 million) with its $2.7 million gross. Rob Reiner’s And So it Goes opened a little better, taking the eighth-place slot with $4.6 million (Transformers: Age of Extinction came in at No. 7 with $6 million), but then, the film opened in considerably more theatres – 1,762, to be exact.

Finally, Woody Allen’s Magic in the Moonlight enjoyed an OK opening, raking in $425,730 from 17 locations. As expected, the film’s debut proves it’s no Midnight in Paris or Blue Jasmine, or even Boyhood, the latest from Richard Linklater, which continued its specialty b.o. hot streak this weekend. The movie earned $1.7 million from 107 theatres. To date, Boyhood has grossed $4.1 million.