Retro video game characters such as Pac-Man, Galaga, Tetris, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Arkanoid, BurgerTime and Centipede did battle with Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Josh Gad and Peter Dinklage this weekend as Pixels debuted in theaters in North America and numerous other markets. The film centered on an alien race invading the Earth with classic arcade video game characters after misinterpreting footage from a 1982 arcade championship event that was shot into space with a variety of 1980s pop culture Americana.
Opening to mostly negative reviews, Pixels debuted with $24 million domestically, slightly under the $25 million it was projected to open with. Marvel’s Ant-Man edged it out with $24.7 million to take the number one spot in it’s second weekend according to a number of reports. While Pixels was the top earning film on it’s opening day on Friday, it wasn’t enough to hold off a strong matinee surge for Ant-Man at movie theaters on Saturday. Despite the second place finish, Pixels was the number one debuting film in the North American box office this weekend by a considerable margin.
In overseas release, Pixels fared slightly better with a take of $25.4 million, putting the $88 million dollar film at a total worldwide weekend opening of $49.4 million. It still has 60 more worldwide markets to debut in over the coming weeks, which should allow the film to reach the break-even point in it’s full worldwide debut. Given the negative initial response by American critics, Pixels will likely need to find some longevity in foreign markets if it hopes to turn a profit in theaters.
Much of the American response seemed to center on Adam Sandler, who has seen his star fall with U.S. audiences in recent years. After the initial wave of negative reviews accompanying advanced screenings last week, Pixels actually saw a slightly better response from audiences than critics. According to Rotten Tomatoes, almost 60 percent of the audience liked the film despite a critics’ score of 18 percent, with an average public rating of 3.3 out of 5 stars as of this writing. The IMDb star rating for the film increased from as low as 4.5 stars out of 10 after the previews to a rating of 5.2 stars once the film hit wide release, but overall social media has been filled with potential viewers stating they have no plans to see the film due to the initial strong negative response.
Regardless of final dollar figures, video game stories and characters are primed to continue to invade theaters with upcoming projects such as Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, based on the best selling fiction book by Ernest Cline and Seth Rogen’s Console Wars, based off of author Blake Harris’ book about the real-life story of how SEGA took it to the dominate Nintendo in the 1990s video game console market. A sequel to Wreck-It Ralph, which featured several of the same video game warriors that appeared in Pixels, is also said to now be in the works.