LOS ANGELES — Will “R.I.P.D.” go down as the biggest flop of the summer?
It’s hard to make the distinction, given the number of big-budget misfires that have landed in theaters this season. But according to distributor Universal Pictures, the $130-million action comedy grossed just $12.8 million, good enough for only a seventh-place finish this past weekend, when there were four new films in the national marketplace.
Is that worse than the recent $29.2-million launch for the $225-million “The Lone Ranger”? Depends on how you slice it. But either way, the opening for “R.I.P.D.” is bad — especially when you consider that the 3-D film starring Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges lost out to “The Conjuring,” a horror film that cost $20 million to produce.
The low-budget flick, directed by James Wan, was easily the weekend’s No. 1 movie, grossing $41.5 million in its debut. On Thursday, pre-release audience surveys had suggested the picture would start off with no more than $30 million.
“The Conjuring” is the latest in a string of lower-budget films that have beaten out pricier competitors at the box office this summer. “The Lone Ranger” lost out to the $76-million “Despicable Me 2” earlier this month, while the $58-million “The Internship” failed to beat the $3.5-million “The Purge” in June.
“Audiences are less concerned with what you spend to make the movie and more concerned with whether or not the subject is compelling,” said Jeff Goldstein, executive vice president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., which saw its $190-million “Pacific Rim” open with a disappointing $37.3 million last weekend.
“The Conjuring,” which stars Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, earned strong reviews from critics and filmgoers — a rarity for a scary movie. Those who saw the picture this past weekend — 59 percent of whom were older than 25 — assigned the film an average grade of A-minus, according to market research business CinemaScore. Goldstein said “The Conjuring” was one of three horror films in the last 10 years to earn that high a grade from audiences.