USA Today -- So much for fanboy muscle.
Despite internet chatter and online buzz that had become the envy of the industry, the $190 million sci-fi opus Pacific Rim couldn't outmuscle a cartoon and a critically-pummeled Adam Sandler sequel at the box office this weekend.
Despicable Me 2 took the box office crown for a second straight weekend with $44.8 million. But the bigger story was in the new films.
Sandler's savagely-reviewed comedy Grown Ups 2took second place with $42.5 million, according to studio estimates from Hollywood.com.
The debut beat most analysts projections, which hovered around $30 million.
Sandler flourished despite earning some of the worst reviews of his career. The movie earned just a 7% approval rating from critics, according to rottentomatoes.com.
Sandler's fans, however, were fierce in their support: 90% of the film's audience gave it a thumbs-up, the site says.
Rim, meanwhile, could have used similar loyalty. The film became the third straight mega-budgeted movie to underperform. The Guillermo del Toro story of monsters versus robots claimed $38.3 million and third place. The opening fell short of analysts' projections of $40 million.
Last week, the $215 million The Lone Ranger opened to a dismal $29 million. The week before, the $150 million White House Down mustered just $25 million in its debut.
Rim's failure, however, comes despite strong reviews and fan reaction. About 72% of critics liked the film, 88% of moviegoers, rottentomatoes.com says.
But analysts say the online sound and fury surrounding the flick signified little in terms of ticket sales -- just as last week's campy Syfy movie Sharknado exploded on Twitter -- but generated a mediocre 1.4 million viewers.
Similarly, analysts saw online chatter spike in the final week of Rim's campaign, and raised projections by $10 million. Online ticket broker Fandango reported the film was tracking as well as Brad Pitt's World War Z, which has done $170 million.
But tweets don't equal ticket sales, and teen boys remain an elusive demographic, says Tim Briody of boxofficeprophets.com.
Despite the online hype and "a deluge of advertising in the last two weeks, Pacific Rimseems to not have expanded its audiences past the people who were going to see this from the day it was initially revealed," he says.
Melissa McCarthy's The Heat was fourth with $14 million.
Ranger rounded out the top five with $11.4 million. Final figures are due Monday.