Movie Critics: Impact in Summer Season?

Do the movie critics’ opinions and evaluations matter in the summer season?

Despite favorable reviews, “Pacific Rim” landed in second place Friday with $14.6 million, as it got overtaken by a critically-smeared sequel, Grown Ups 2, and a beloved toon holdover, Despicable Me 2.

Warner and Legendary Pictures’ giant-robot-meets-giant-monster actioner started the frame strongly with a higher-than-expected $3.6 million from late Thursday showings and an 11th hour spike in advance ticket sales — a typical early turnout for fanboy-driven pics. However, even this modest momentum doesn’t appear as though it will hold, as the $185 million-plus budgeted pic looks like it will fall to third place around $38 million on Sunday.

The really contentious battle is happening above “Pacific Rim,” where Sony’s “Grown Ups 2″ and Universal-Illumination Entertainment’s “Despicable Me 2″ may become more or less tied for first.

Pre-weekend predictors had “Despicable Me 2″ holding first in its soph sesh, but it now looks like both films will walk away with $43 million this weekend, “Grown Ups 2″ perhaps with a slight edge on the toon.

“Grown Ups 2″ earned $16.3 million whereas “Despicable Me 2″ took $13.4 million, below “Pacific Rim” but an unfair indicator of box office success as families tend to avoid the Friday night rush at plexes.

“Pacific Rim’s” hopes for salvation now lie with international auds. Pic has earned $19.3 million to date from 38 markets, which reps about 45% of the int’l landscape. It has yet to open in China or Japan, which are expected to give the film a solid boost.