'The Purge' makes surprise splash at box office

By Mike Andronico , Updated Jun 10, 2013 11:40 AM EDT

While its terrifying premise and viral marketing campaign gained a great deal of interest, even movie experts couldn't predict just how well James DeMonaco's The Purge would do at the box office.

According to Forbes, the suspense film earned $36 million, with a healthy chunk of that revenue coming from horror fans who flocked to theaters Thursday night to see the film early. The number is quite surprising, considering The Purge is an all-new movie not based on an existing horror franchise. Forbes is reporting that it's performance could set a new record for a non-remake, non-sequel horror debut. It can't be hurting the studios that the barebones film only cost $3 million to make.

Starring Ethan Hawke and Lena Heady, The Purge finds a family struggling to survive during a 12-hour period when all crime is completely legal. Hawke is certainly no stranger to the world of ominous suspense and, while thriving on violence and thrills, The Purge is also said to include a general social commentary on today's Twitter-addicted age.

The movie is currently getting mixed reviews from prominent publications. According to Rotten Tomatoes, 41 percent of critics are reacting favorably to the film, while a more generous 59 percent of fans are enjoying the new-age thriller. The general consensus is that while The Purge has a silly concept and predictable twists, it does a good job delivering the thrills when they're needed most.

The Purge beat out some significant competition at the box office this weekend, as it trumped Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson's The Internship and beat out last month's Star Trek: Into Darkness, which has still been performing well ever since it launched to rave reviews on May 17.

No matter how good of a movie The Purge is, it's clear that troves of film-goers are heading out to see it. What do you think of DeMonaco's latest crack at the suspense genre?

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