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Director Gavin Hood‘s sci-fi epic Ender’s Game opened to a solid $28 million in North America, but it will need strong legs in order to make back its pricey $110 million budget — a potentially difficult task considering that Thor: The Dark World enters the domestic marketplace next weekend.
Ender’s Game, receiving a B+ CinemaScore, is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Orson Scott Card, whose anti-gay comments have riled a lot of people. Many consider Ender’s Game to be a YA property, although Card said he wrote it for adults. He seems to have a point: 58 percent of those going to see the movie were over the age of 25.
A co-production between Summit Entertainment, OddLot Entertainment and Digital Domain, Ender’s Game hopes to launch a franchise. It stars Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis, Hailee Steinfeld and Abigail Breslin. Set in the near future, the story revolves around a young boy (Butterfield) who is recruited by the military to stop an alien race from destroying the world.
Ender’s Game is a sizeable gamble for Gigi Pritzker‘s OddLot, which financed much of the movie and dispatched sister company Sierra/Affinity to sell it internationally. The film is off to a nice start overseas, grossing $9.1 million so far from 15 markets. (The book was never as popular internationally.)
The movie opened in a raft of markets this weekend but saw subdued results because of Thor 2, which launched to a massive $109.4 million as it opened in 70 percent of the foreign marketplace this weekend. Thor 2 opens next weekend in North America.
Outside of The Hunger Games and Twilight film franchises, YA film properties have struggled, with The Host, Beautiful Creatures and Mortal Instruments: City of Bones all flopping this year.
Elsewhere at the box office, Paramount’s Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa has quickly turned into a box office hit, falling less than 38 percent in its second weekend. The R-rated comedy grossed $20.5 million to end the weekend with $62.1 million in domestic grosses. It came in No. 2 and had no trouble beating sexagenarian comedy Last Vegas and Free Birds.
Bad Grandpa, costing a mere $15 million to make, is also impressing internationally, where it earned $6 million from 19 markets this weekend for an early foreign total of $17.6 million and a worldwide total of $79.7 million.
From CBS Films and Good Universe, Last Vegas, starring Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline as four friends in their 60s who travel to Las Vegas for a bachelor party, came in No. 3 Friday with a better-than-expected $16.5 million. The $28 million film should have an especially strong multiple since it is being fueled by older adults, who don’t rush out to see a film opening weekend.
CBS Films believes Last Vegas will serve as strong counterprogramming throughout the month. In August 2012, Hope Springs, starring Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, opened to a modest $14.7 million on its way to earning $63.5 million domestically and a hearty $114.3 million globally.
Free Birds, costing $55 million to produce, performed on the low end of expectations, grossing $16.2 million. The family film marks the first animated 3D pic from Relativity Media, who partnered with Reel FX in making the movie.
The Thanksgiving-themed movie, marking Relativity’s first foray into the animation business, is about a pair of turkeys who travel back in time to prevent their kind from becoming the traditional holiday meal. The voice cast is led by Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson and Amy Poehler.
Both Free Birds and Last Vegas earned A- CinemaScores.
Steve McQueen‘s 12 Years a Slave continued to build momentum, moving up the chart to No. 7 as it expanded into a total of 410 theaters in its third weekend, grossing $4.6 million for a North American total of $8.8 million for Fox Searchlight.
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