Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for Universal, though, noted the stronger competition this time around and the overall "depressed" business at movie theaters. Weekend revenue was down 24 percent from the same weekend last year, continuing a cold summer for Hollywood that's more than 20 percent off the pace of summer of 2013.
But "Anarchy," which imagines an America where all crime is legal for 12 hours every year, was made for only $9 million, making it immediately profitable for Universal. Such success is the envy of most movies, particularly Sony's "Sex Tape," a starrier, more expensive release that opened with $15 million.
The Jason Segel, Cameron Diaz R-rated comedy failed to turn on moviegoers or critics. "Sex Tape," in which a married couple makes a pornographic home video to stoke the flames of their lagging sex life, came in fourth place behind Disney's "Planes: Fire & Rescue." The animated sequel to 2013's "Cars"-offshoot, "Planes," opened with $18 million.
"It was kind of a middling weekend unless you were the top film," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak. Dergarabedian looks ahead optimistically to upcoming releases "Lucy," starring Scarlett Johansson, and the Marvel space film "Guardians of the Galaxy," of which he noted: "A lot of pressure is being put on that movie. It may be the last big summer blockbuster."
But as July turns to August, Hollywood's summer is certain to be a down one.
In a limited release of 68 theaters, Zach Braff's crowd-funded "Wish I Was Here" also arrived with a tiny weekend opening of $495,000 for Focus Features. The film, Braff's directorial follow-up to 2004's "Garden State," was much criticized for depending on fan contributions for funding. "Wish I Was Here" will expand to more theaters next week, but it is sure to fall far short of the $26.8 million "Garden State" earned.
Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jake—coyle