Pain & Gain triumphed in a fairly limp session at the North American box office thanks to an estimated $20m debut that knocked the Tom Cruise sci-fi Oblivion off its perch.
The box office session dropped around 19% against last week and fell by roughly the same margin compared with the same weekend in 2012, when Screen Gems' Think Like a Man stayed top for the second weekend in a session that showed greater strength in depth.
Michael Bay, preparing the fourth Transformers episode for next summer, directed Pain & Gain and the result was a number one launch that secured the top spot by a respectable margin. Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson star alongside Anthony Mackie as members of a real-life Miami gang who plan a kidnapping. Hollywood's spin machine has ensured most moviegoers have no idea what a nasty mob the Sun Gym crew really was. The reality is quite different from the cheeky chappy portrayal on the big screen: the two real-life masterminds Daniel Lugo and Adrian Doorbal used torture, extortion, kidnapping and murder to further their aims and they sit on death row in a Florida jail as you read this.
A considerably less offensive new arrival was Lionsgate's ensemble comedy The Big Wedding with Robert de Niro, Katherine Heigl and another dozen or so household names. Lionsgate's comedy opened in fourth place on $7.5m.
Matthew McConaughey has always had bags of talent besides that lazy charm, so it's great to see him in such a good crop of movies these days. He was sleazy yet strangely endearing in Steven Soderbergh's Magic Mike and deliciously droll in Richard Linklater's Bernie, both of which earned him the National Society of Film Critics best supporting actor award last season among a handful of other prizes and nominations. The calibre of directors lining up to work with McConaughey says it all. He was unforgettable in William Friedkin's bizarrissimo Killer Joe and will be seen later this year in Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street as well as in the star vehicle Dallas Buyers Club from Jean-Marc Vallée, which may prove to be strong awards bait. To return to the present, McConaughey plays the lead in Mud, the latest movie from the acclaimed director of Take Shelter, Jeff Nichols. Mud opened in 11th place on $2.2m through arthouse specialist Roadside Attractions and keeps McConaughey rolling along nicely.
This week it's Marvel Studios' Iron Man 3, which set the biggest international launch in box office history at the weekend after grossing an estimated $195.3m through Disney's international distribution pipeline. That was enough to beat the previous record-holder – Marvel Studios' 2012 summer release through Disney, The Avengers, on $185.1m. This is starting to feel like a closed circuit.
North American top 10, 26-28 April 2013
1. Pain & Gain, $20m –
2. Oblivion, $17.4m. Total: $64.7m
3. 42, $10.7m. Total: $69.1m
4. The Big Wedding, $7.5m –
5. The Croods, $6.6m. Total: $163m
6. GI Joe: Retaliation, $3.6m. Total: $116.4m
7. Scary Movie 5, $3.5m. Total: $27.5m
8. Olympus Has Fallen, $2.8m. Total: $93.1m
9. The Place Beyond The Pines, $2.7m. Total: $16.2m
10. Jurassic Park 3D, $2.3m. Total: $42m
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image: © Jessica Diamond