vince vaughn in unfinished businessExpect to see a lot of premature eulogies for Vince Vaughn's career today, after the disastrous opening of "Unfinished Business," just like you saw a lot of premature obituaries last week for Will Smith's career after the lackluster debut of "Focus."

True, "Business" was an especially spectacular flop, premiering in 10th place with only an estimated $4.8 million, less than half of the already modest $10 million pundits were predicting. That the movie is only the latest in a string of Vaughn flops (including "The Watch," "The Dilemma," "The Internship," and "Delivery Man") seems reason enough for pundits to start measuring the coffin.

Weep not for Vaughn. His hands and feet were immortalized in concrete outside Hollywood's Chinese Theatre just this past Wednesday. Next month, he'll star in the eagerly-anticipated second season on HBO's "True Detective," which, if nothing else, will remind those viewers who think of him only as a fast-talking comic actor that he initially made his name acting in intense dramas. He has another crime drama, "Term Life," coming to theaters later this year. Plus, as a guy who's produced his own projects for 10 years and who's extremely well-connected (collaborating frequently with A-list writer/director/producers Jon Favreau and Judd Apatow), Vaughn will never want for work.

Nonetheless, this was a confusing weekend for those trying to figure out who's up and who's down. Overall, it was the worst box-office weekend in three months, the first since mid-December in which moviegoers bought less than $100 million worth of tickets. Even the top movie, newcomer "Chappie," underperformed expectations. So does that make "Chappie" director Neill Blomkamp a winner or a loser? Well, here are the players who mattered this weekend, and here's how Moviefone thinks they fared.

Dev Patel: Winner. He's in both "Chappie" and "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," in which he has a lead role. So he's in two of the top three movies of the weekend.

Hugh Jackman: Winner. He's the biggest name actor in "Chappie," so he gets to chalk up another No. 1 debut, even though he's not the movie's primary draw. That would be director Blomkamp himself, who earned a cult following with the success of "District 9," his 2009 debut, and then lost some of it with big-budget follow-up "Elysium." So to the extent that the movie underperformed -- it opened with an estimated $13.3 million, against expectations around $17 to $20 million -- Jackman won't be blamed.

Neil Blomkamp: Jury's still out. He's a winner for scoring a No. 1 debut, but a loser for underperforming, for the second time in a row. On the other hand, "Chappie" cost just $49 million to make (pretty modest for an effects-laden sci-fi movie), and foreign sales have yet to be added to the total, so the movie could yet break even and make him a hero. Plus, Hollywood has a lot of tolerance for visionary sci-fi directors, letting them fail repeatedly in case they stumble upon a George Lucas- or James Cameron-sized hit. (Exhibit A: The Wachowskis, with "Speed Racer," "Cloud Atlas," and "Jupiter Ascending.")

Will Smith: Winner. Experts expected a steep drop for "Focus" in its second weekend, but it fell just 46 percent, to an estimated $10.0 million, good for second place. It's earned $46.8 million worldwide, on a budget of about $50 million, so it's far from the box office albatross that everyone was trying to hang on Smith's neck a week ago.

John Madden: Loser. The 65-year-old directed Best Picture Oscar winner "Shakespeare In Love" back in 1998, then a bunch of movies that didn't make much of a dent in public consciousness, and then the two "Marigold" films. And yet, does anyone in the ticket-buying public know who he is? Think he'll get any credit for the current success of the second "Marigold"? Think anyone hears his name without thinking first of the football coach / sportscaster / video game namesake?

Fox Searchlight: Winner. The "Marigold" distributor could have opened what's essentially an indie/foreign film in a handful of theaters and then expanded wide based on word-of-mouth. Instead, the studio gambled on a wide release (1,573 theaters) for the sequel, anticipating that the good will earned by the first movie three years ago would be a sufficient draw. The gamble paid off with a debut at No. 3 with an estimated $8.6 million. That figure is in line with projections, and it gives "Marigold" the highest per-screen average ($5,467) of any of the top ten films.

Tom Wilkinson: Loser. If his character hadn't died in the first "Marigold," he could have been in the second one. Instead, he's limping alongside Vaughn in "Unfinished Business."

Richard Gere: Loser. Gere got a lot of press for being the token Yank among the British-and-Indian ensemble cast of the new "Marigold." The veteran leading man-turned-character actor could certainly use a big hit on his résumé, but since people went to the movie to see the familiar players from the first movie, not the new guy, he's not going to get to bask in any of the film's good fortune.

Ken Scott: Loser. This is the second straight Vince Vaughn flop for the Canadian director. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, one such flop is a misfortune; two looks like carelessness.

Dave Franco: Winner. Well, maybe not, but after "21 Jump Street," "Now You See Me," and "Neighbors," James Franco's kid brother is widely seen as a rising star. Co-starring in "Unfinished Business" won't dim his luster any, and he won't bear any of the blame for its failure.

Vince Vaughn: Loser. Well, duh. But that doesn't mean he won't keep getting to play guys trying to fast-talk their way out of trouble in unfunny comedies and intense crime dramas for some time to come.
categories Movies, Box Office