Box Office Shocker: 'The Purge' Tops Friday With $16.7 Mil, Headed for $38 Mil Weekend

The Purge Ethan Hawke Lena Headey Flashlights - H 2013
Universal Pictures
"The Purge"

UPDATED: The $3 million pic is vastly overperforming, while Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson's Google comedy "The Internship" struggles as it eyes $19 million weekend.

Universal and Jason Blum's microbudgeted thriller The Purge -- starring Ethan Hawke and Game of Thrones' Lena Headey -- is headed for a stunning $38.4 million opening after topping the Friday box office with a mighty $16.7 million.
Shawn Levy's The Internship, the event comedy reuniting Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson for the first time since Wedding Crashers in 2005, trailed with a muted $6.6 million, putting the movie on course for a disappointing $19.1 million weekend.

That's slightly better than expected, but 20th Century Fox and New Regency, which split the $58 million budget, had hoped for much more when embarking on the comedy. Many reviewers have skewered The Internship -- starring Vaughn and Wilson as washed-up salesmen who become interns at Google -- for being an advertisement for the giant tech company. Audiences were more generous, giving the PG-13 entry a B+ CinemaScore.
The movie is likely to mark Levy's worst opening in a decade (in 2003, Fox comedy Just Married debuted to $17.5 million). And it will come nowhere near to Wedding Crashers, which debuted to nearly $40 million, ushering in a new era or prosperity for R-rated comedies. Levy and Vaughn, who produced and co-wrote The Internship, worked closely with Google throughout the process of making the film.
The Internship is in a close race with Universal's Fast and Furious 6 -- which will jump the $200 million mark over the weekend in North America -- and Now You See Me and could come in No. 4 if beat by the two holdovers.
From writer-director James DeMonaco, The Purge --  costing a mere $3 million to make and already making its budget back -- is set in a future where one night a year all crime is legal. The film received a C CinemaScore, not unusual for the genre.
The Purge is the first title to be released through Universal's partnership with Blum, the producer behind the Paranormal Activity franchise and Insidious. Blum produced the movie with Michael Bay, Sebastien K. LeMercier and Bay's colleagues at Platinum Dunes, Andrew Form and Brad Fuller.
Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing soared at the specialty box office, grossing $71,000 from five theaters for a location average of $14,200, the best of any film. The film, marking a victory for Roadside Attractions, is anticipating a $230,000 opening weekend for a theater average of $46,000.

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