Box Office: 'Pacific Rim' Tracking Under 'Grown-Ups 2'

That Jaeger’s body language perfectly describes what seems to be happening to Pacific Rim this weekend. In a classic box office duel of David and Goliath proportions, Goliath won.

And despite the epic scale of the Jaegers and kaiju of Pacific Rim, they were not match for Adam Sandler.

Variety has just posted numbers confirming Pacific Rim fans’ greatest fears: initial industry tracking, that Grown-Ups 2 would indeed make a bigger box office push than Pacific Rim during opening weekend, has sadly proven true.

As of early Saturday, the trade magazine is reporting that the Guillermo del Toro $200 million special effects smorgasbord is tracking to pull in $38 million for the weekend. Following $3.6 million Thursday early screening opening, one analyst says that Pacific Rim “started off really strong, but then it fell off.”

Honestly, I’m not even sure how strong that Thursday night opening was. The theater I went to, at a 10:15 IMAX 3-D screening, was a little packed, but seats were readily and openly available and enthusiasm during the picture was startlingly quiet (even for previously audible del Toro fans, which my screening definitely had).

The audience’s silence during some of the pictures bigger, more “cheer-worthy” sections was completely jarring. The gorilla kaiju coming up from the ocean from behind the Russian Jaeger was more spectacular than a lot of things I saw during this summer or last and got no reaction from the audience.

Grown-Ups 2, on the other hand, is tracking to just barely beat the sci-fi creature feature out at $41 million. Both of those numbers likely won’t overtake Despicable Me 2, which is having another strong weekend and looking at $46.5 million for the weekend and, according to Variety, is likely to eclipse $200 million soon.

While this is absolutely disconcerting news, it should be noted that Pacific Rim at least performed well enough to not be considered the kind of major flop that Disney’s The Lone Ranger proved to be.

I guess that’s something?

Fans should find some solace in this fact: Pacific Rim was a ballsy film for Warner and Legendary to release. If for nothing else, it at least showed that a major studio was willing to put some money behind something that didn’t have a built-in audience. This film was always destined to be a cult classic and that’s the road it seems to be heading down. I thought that it was an exciting, visually engaging and creative picture.

The other side of that coin is that these numbers are still underwhelming ones. And while that risk might only pay off in a small way (overseas markets should lift Pacific Rim into the black),  if Pacific Rim sees a sequel anytime soon, I have to say it’d be a surprising announcement. Whether another studio would invest in such an experiment remains to be seen, but I hope they do.

Although Pacific Rim owes a lot to Godzilla and Gamera films, it was a film not based on any established property and Hollywood desperately needs these kinds of films. del Toro’s film simply wasn’t afforded the same opportunity to succeed as even Grown-Ups 2 was. It’s a mathematical fact: when original programming is released in an ocean of sequels, remakes and re-imaginings, they are bound to go under the radar, make comparatively lower box office returns and are set up to fail in the current Hollywood model.

And this latest report forecasts more of the same. This was the movie-going public’s chance to tell studios that they, at the very least, didn’t want anymore tired Adam Sandler comic retreads (if you read that as “returds”, I don’t blame you — I wrote it like that at first).

There are still two days left in the weekend, and Saturday can provide a big push in Pacific Rim’s box office numbers. FlickSided will provide updates as the numbers come out.

Tags: Adam Sandler Grown Ups 2 Guillermo Del Toro Jaeger Kaiju Pacific Rim