Summer 2013 has seen quite a few blockbusters, but most of them, such as "Man of Steel" or "Iron Man 3," have been more action and adventure or fantasy rather than science fiction. Only a smattering of sci-fi films have been scattered between these big-budget action films, but bulk of them have held up very well to the competition.
The clear winner so far in the sci-fi movie category is "Pacific Rim" (watch trailer) from "The Hobbit" director Guillermo del Toro. It is the famed Mexican director's first stab at science fiction after spending years doing dark fantasies such as the superb "Pan's Labyrinth." He did very well in his first try, producing a film that had a lot of spectacle but still paid attention to character development and plot. The film grossed $37,285,325 in its opening weekend, which some saw as a failure since that tally was only good for third place. Since then, however, the film has quietly amassed just over $97 million domestically and is expected to cross the century mark before the end of August despite that it is now playing in fewer theaters across the country.
While $100 million may seem great by most movie standards, the gargantuan $190 million budget means that the film has barely made back half of what it cost. That is where foreign grosses come in. The film has amassed $247 million in box-office receipts overseas, which means it will gross over $350 million total before all is said and done. That more than makes back its huge shooting budget, which means that a sequel could be in order if del Toro and his cast decide to come back for another go. These totals are great, but they don't include eventual DVD and Blu-ray sales as well as the huge amount of action figure and other merchandise sales that will help make this a very profitable film for Warner Bros. before all is said and done.
In the film, earth has been threatened by alien monsters who rise from the floor of the Pacific Ocean to wreak havoc on humans. Thankfully, huge robots called Jaegers that take two humans to operate have been in development for quite some time. These gargantuan robots may be humanity's last hope against the equally huge monsters, setting the film up for an epic showdown of monsters versus robots. It stars Idris Elba from "Thor," and Charlie Hunnam and Ron Perlman, both from "Sons of Anarchy."
The other big sci-fi flick to make a splash in theaters is "Elysium," starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. The film centers on Damon's character Max, who works in a factory on a crumbling earth with barely breathable air and dying food sources. He and many others wish they could inhabit Elysium, a space station less than twenty minutes away from earth that has clean air, water, medical supplies, and lots of food. Through a serious of unfortunate events, he is forced to join a rebel alliance and tries to infiltrate Elysium to help the people still trapped on the dying planet get citizenship there. Foster plays the leader of Elysium who will stop at nothing to quash Max and his rebel friends.
The film broke out in its first week at the box office, clearing $37,150,366 domestically in the first three days after its August 13 release. It also made an additional $10 million overseas, though that figure is expected to rise as the film is released in more countries. Still, with an initial tally of nearly $50 million worldwide in less than a week, it is almost certain that "Elysium" will earn more than "Pacific Rim" by the time both movies are finished with their box-office runs.
The film can be considered an even bigger hit when the cost of producing it is taken into consideration. The film's budget was $115 million, which is a modest amount relative to other recent sci-fi spectacles that require a lot of computer-generated images. Considering the significant difference in budget between the two productions, "Pacific Rim" will probably end up earning a much larger profit margin for TriStar than "Pacific Rim" will for Warner Bros. Since the film has only been open less than a week, it may still see a precipitous drop in earnings, as many films do in their second week. However, the outlook for "Elysium" is quite rosy at the moment, and it stands a good chance of becoming the sci-fi box-office king of 2013.