Box Office: 'Lucy" #1, 'Hercules' #2, Slump Continues

Box Office: 'Lucy" #1,  'Hercules' #2, Slump Continues

Though no title did well enough to lift the box office out of its stunning summer slump, in their weekend debuts, both “Lucy” and “Hercules” are doing better than expected. Scarlett Johansson’s “Lucy” easily snatched first place with a $43 million debut. Dwayne Johnson’s “Hercules” could nudge $30 million, which would put it about $5 to $7 million above some previous estimates.

A brutal Cinemascore of C+ for “Lucy” means it could flame out fairly quick.  A fascinating trailer with sexy Scarlett basically assuming the role of Neo in “The Matrix” drew an impressive number of moviegoers, but word of mouth will not be kind.

“Hercules,” on the other hand, earned a B+ from Cinemascore, which might give the surprisingly good revisionist adventure some box office staying power. With a $100 million production budget, positive word-of-mouth will be crucial. There had been talk that director Bret Ratner’s sword and sandals actioner could be the first big budget bomb of the summer. A $30 million debut at least puts that fear to rest.

Also debuting this weekend is director Rob Reiner’s “And So It Goes,” starring Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton. Although the romantic comedy is in 1,762 theatres, Deadline predicts a paltry take of under $5 million.

In its second weekend, “The Purge: Anrachy” dipped a brutal 65%. After grabbing another $10 million this weekend, the anti-Obama horror sequel will sit at $52 million.

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is struggling to the $200 million mark. By Monday, the sequel will have earned $173 million thanks to another $16 million haul this weekend. There’s no question that “Apes” is a hit but it is in no way a phenomenon.

“Sex Tape” can now safely be tagged a bomb. In its second weekend, the raunchy, R-rated comedy dropped 60% over its disappointing debut. A lousy $5.8 million take this weekend brings the film’s total to just $27 million.  With a  $40 million production budget (probably closer to $80 million with advertising) “Sex Tape” is almost certain to disappear entirely before crossing $35 million.

Year-to-date, the 2014 North American box office is the worst in the 6 years Box Office Mojo tracks, even lagging behind 2011, a year that broke everyone’s heart. Can “Guardians of the Galaxy” (8/1), “Into the Storm” (8/8), and “The Expendables 3” (8/15) mount anything close to a comeback?

Follow  John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC