Friday Box Office: "Pixels" Disappoints, "Southpaw" Draws Even, and "Paper Towns" Impresses

Posted 12:27 PM July 25th, 2015 by Senh Duong
Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Josh Gad, and Michelle Monaghan in "Pixels"

To no one’s surprise, Adam Sandler’s new film “Pixels” topped the box office on Friday with $9.2M. Although that’s in line with what most in the industry were expecting, it’s a bit below my expectations. Like I said in my latest podcast with Binh Ngo, I was expecting a weekend opening in the neighborhood of $45M, which would translate to $15M on Friday. It turns out I was too optimistic. Sure, I know that Adam Sandler hasn’t been packing them like he used to during his heyday, but I thought the video game themed “Pixels,” which is directed by “Harry Potter’s” Chris Columbus, would appeal to a wider demographic.

The poor reviews didn’t help matters with audiences who aren’t part of Sandler’s fan base. At 19% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s actually an average score for the comedian. I saw it earlier in the week, and although I like the arcade sequences (the Centipede segment being the best), the rest of the film that tie those scenes together felt like filler material. This is not surprising when I learned afterwards that it’s based on a two and a half minute short.

Antoine Fuqua’s boxing drama “Southpaw,” starring a ripped Jake Gyllenhaal, did about as well as I expected with $6.2M, which translates to about $18M for the weekend. The versatile Gyllenhaal has been a reliable draw at the box office. I agree with the film’s 58% score on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s well acted and Floyd Mayweather’s defensive stances are incorporated into the boxing sequences, but the drama felt rushed to get from one plot point to another, with character development seemingly ending up on the cutting room floor and not on the actual film.

Doing way better than I expected and scoring the same as “Southpaw” on Rotten Tomatoes and at the box office (nearly), teen romance/drama “Paper Towns” made $6.3M. I haven’t seen it, so you’ll just have to trust the Tomato. The consensus on the reviews roundup site is: “Paper Towns isn't as deep or moving as it wants to be, yet it's still earnest, well-acted, and thoughtful enough to earn a place in the hearts of teen filmgoers of all ages.”

Overall, the three new releases did decent. “Paper Towns” is probably the biggest winner because it only cost $12M. At a higher $30M budget, “Southpaw” will likely earn a decent profit. “Pixels” might have trouble making back its $88M domestically.

Last weekend's box office podcast with Binh Ngo:

(Figures from BoxOfficeMojo.com)

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