Coming out on top. J.J. Abrams’ Super 8 defied expectations by opening with $37 million at the domestic box office, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Critics were divided over the nostalgic film and, combined with a weak marketing campaign that left the plot something of a mystery, the film was only expected to take in $25 to $30 million, despite the fact that it was produced by Steven Spielberg. But a last minute marketing push, including paid previews, appeared to have paid off. “I think we accomplished what we set out to do. It was never positioned as a big blockbuster, but as a smaller movie,” Paramount vice chair Rob Moore told THR. People are already drawing comparisons between Super 8 and the similarly titled sci-fi film District 9, which opened to $37.3 million at the domestic box office in 2009, but turned out to be a sleeper hit.
Among holdovers, the major success story was Hangover 2, which placed third after X-Men: First Class, and is officially set to overtake its original at the box office, if not in critical acclaim. Hangover 2 now has a worldwide total of $432.1 million, just behind the $467.5 million earned by the original Hangover, and has already surpassed the original overseas.
Rounding out the middle. Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris had its wide expansion this weekend, opening on 944 screens, the second widest count ever for a Woody Allen film, according to Indiewire. The move took in a strong $6,146,165, placing 8th overall and thrilling its distributor Sony Classics that they have a mainstream hit for Woody Allen on their hands, potentially his highest grossing film since 1986’s Hannah and Her Sisters. But as Allen continues to make a film a year regardless of box office success or reviews, we can't see the good news affecting him too much either way.
Dragging down the bottom. The last new nationwide release this weekend did not, unfortunately, fare so well. Relativity Media and Smokewood Entertainment’s Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer debuted to a low $6.1 million, according to THR. Like Super 8, the film features younger characters. But unlike Super 8, it drew painful reviews from the critics. Based as it was on a best-selling book series, whatever charms the written version held did not seem to translate. Kyle Smith at the New York Post reviewed "Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer is sure to appeal to kids of all ages from 6 to 9 who are female and have no taste or sense of humor."