'2 Guns' blasts past 'Smurfs 2' with $27.4 million at box office

Aug. 4, 2013 at 1:02 PM ET

Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg in "2 Guns."
Patti Perret / AP
Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg in "2 Guns."

Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington's R-rated action pic "2 Guns" easily won the North American box office race with a solid $27.4 million, while Sony's "The Smurfs 2" limped to a third-place finish as Hollywood overcrowds the box office with family films.

"Smurfs 2" took in $18.2 million for the weekend for a disappointing five-day debut of $27.3 million, compared to the $35.6 million opening of "The Smurfs" in late July 2011. Sony is banking on the sequel to make up ground overseas; rolling out in 42 markets this weekend, the CGI/live-action pic took in $52.5 million for a worldwide total of $80.3 million.

Dampened by a heat wave in Europe, the sequel's international debut was 4 percent behind the 2011 film but still did impressive business. It opened No. 1 in the U.K. ($5.1 million) and No. 2 in France ($4.2 million). In Russia, the pic took in $5.4 million, a third bigger than the original "Smurfs." Latin America ponied up a $18 million, led by Brazil ($4.7 million) and Mexico ($4.3 million). A worldwide gross of $500 million isn't out of the question, based on these numbers, according to one insider.

STORY: Fall's prestige movie pileup is Hollywood's new box office problem

"Smurfs 2," placing No. 3 domestically behind "2 Guns" and holdover "The Wolverine," is problematic for Sony as the studio continues to fend off shareholder activist Daniel Loeb.

"The Wolverine," coming in No. 2 in its second weekend for 20th Century Fox, took in $21.7 million for a North American total of $95 million. The Hugh Jackman superhero pic, continuing to do big business overseas, grew its foreign total to $160.2 million for a worldwide cume of $255.2 million.

From Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur, "2 Guns" was fueled by an ethnically diverse audience, with African-Americans making up 28 percent of the audience and Hispanics, 14 percent. Interestingly, women made up 49 percent of the audience, while 77 percent of those buying tickets were over the age of 25. The numbers suggest that older couples turned out in force to watch Wahlberg and Washington pair up for the first time on the big screen.

"We're very happy to have the No. 1 opening in North America for the seventh time this year," said Universal president of domestic distribution Nikki Rocco. "I think the chemistry between Washington and Wahlberg was a big draw. Adults really enjoyed the film."

The action pic, earning a B+ CinemaScore and infused with a heavy dose of humor, cost between $80 million and $90 million to produce, although the net budget was $61 million after tax incentives. Emmett/Furla Films and Foresight Unlimited financed and produced the film, with Foresight Unlimited handling international rights. The film project generated huge interest among foreign distributors, with Sony Worldwide Acquisitions Group buying rights to much of the world.

"2 Guns" revolves around a DEA agent (Washington) and Naval Intelligence officer (Wahlberg) who must work together after they are set up by the CIA. Wahlberg and Kormakur first worked together on action pic Contraband, which debuted to $24.3 million in January 2012.

"Smurfs 2," scoring an A- CinemaScore, is a victim of too many family films. Opening two weeks ago, DreamWorks Animation's "Turbo" has also underperformed as it opened in the wake of Universals' megahit "Despicable Me 2."

"It's a bit of a bummer how it performed here, but it's set to do big business on the world stage. To be at $80 million-plus at this point with many major markets yet to go, including China, we are in a great position," Sony president of worldwide distribution Rory Bruer. "It will hugely successful for the studio."

The first "Smurfs" grossed north of $420.4 million internationally, representing 75 percent of the world total of $561.3 million.

"Despicable 2," now in its fourth weekend, continues to stay high up on the box office chart, grossing $10.4 million over the weekend to place No. 5 and pushing its domestic total to $326.7 million. Overseas, the animated tentpole has now earned $387 million for a worldwide total of $713.7 million.

"Turbo" placed No. 7 in North America for a domestic total of $69.5 million

Hollywood has never opened so many family films in a single summer. This season boasts "Epic," "Monsters University," "Despicable 2," "Turbo," "Smurfs 2" and "Planes," which hits theaters in two weeks (there's also the "Percy Jackson" sequel, though that will skew older).

Based on the comic book series created by the Belgian artist Peyo, "Smurfs 2" is the second title in a planned trilogy ("The Smurfs 3" is set for summer 2015). The sequel sees all of the main cast returning, with Neil Patrick Harris and Hank Azaria reprising their live-action roles. Jonathan Winters, who died this spring, and Katy Perry lead the voice cast, while Raja Gosnell returns to the director's chair.

STORY: Low-budget horror rules summer box office  

At the specialty box office, Lindsay Lohan's erotic thriller "The Canyons" failed to make much of a dent, grossing a meek $15,200 at the IFC Center in New York City. However, the pic was a strong draw on VOD, according to IFC Films, which is distributing the film domestically. Canyons was directed by Paul Schrader and written by Bret Easton Ellis.

A24 Films' dramedy "The Spectacular Now" enjoyed a strong start as it launched in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles, grossing $200,181 for a location average of $50,295. Directed by James Ponsoldt, The dramedy headlines Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine" was a big winner has it expanded into a total of 50 locations, grossing $1.9 million for a location average of $40,441 and cume of $3 million. The Sony Pictures Classics film, starring Cate Blanchett, is outperforming Allen's "Midnight in Paris."