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A bumbling prehistoric family and a terrorist takeover of the White House galvanized weekend moviegoers as new entries The Croods and Olympus Has Fallen took the top two spots at the North American box office.
Croods opened to a solid $44.7 million from 4,406 theaters after receiving a pleasing A CinemaScore. That’s welcome news for Jeffrey Katzenberg‘s DreamWorks Animation, whose previous film Rise of the Guardians was a box-office dud.
Overseas, Croods opened to $63.3 million from 47 markets for a total global bow of $108 million. The international figure includes roughly $17 million in previews from last weekend. Croods did especially well in Russia and key Latin American markets, including Mexico and Brazil, where it scored the top opening of all time for an original animated pic.
Following the travails of a prehistoric family, Croods is the first DWA title to be distributed by Fox via the studio’s new distribution and marketing deal with Katzenberg’s company. The voice cast is led by Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone and Nicolas Cage.
The animated 3D tentpole, opening just ahead of DWA’s March 2010 event pic How to Train Your Dragon ($43.7 million), is benefiting from a dearth of family product in the marketplace, evidenced by a sizable 63 percent bump from Friday to Saturday.
Families made up nearly 70 percent of the audience, while 57 percent of those buying tickets were female. However, only 38 percent of the domestic opening came from 3D ticket sales, indicating that families are finding it increasingly difficult to justify paying the extra cost to see a film in the enhanced format.
Fox and DWA are anticipating strong midweek business thanks to spring break and millions of kids being out of school. Croods cost a reported $135 million to make.
“This is a terrific opening,” said Fox president of domestic distribution Chris Aronson. “And with the spring holiday ahead of us, audiences will continue to seek this movie out. The next family movie [Fox’s Epic] isn’t until Memorial Day.”
Antoine Fuqua‘s patriotic-minded Olympus Has Fallen overperformed in its debut, grossing $30.5 million from 3,098 theaters to become one of the few R-rated action pics of the year to work so far. The movie also marks a comeback for Gerard Butler, who has suffered a string of box-office bombs.
Olympus, receiving an A- CinemaScore and fueled by older moviegoers, also marks the biggest opening for distributor FilmDistrict. Millennium Films fully financed and produced the $70 million pic, which features Butler as a disgraced presidential guard who is called back into action when North Korean terrorists take over the White House. Roland Emmerich‘s similarly themed White House Down opens in June.
Olympus also stars Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart, Melissa Leo and Ashley Judd.
“We’re really, really pleased,” said FilmDistrict distribution chief Jim Orr. “Millennium and Antoine delivered an action-picked thriller, and Gerard is a great action hero. The film hit all the right chords.”
Olympus did especially well in conservative areas of the country, as well as in markets with a major military installation. FilmDistrict heavily courted members of the military with an aggressive screening program.
The new Paul Weitz specialty comedy Admission, starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, opened on the soft side, grossing $6.4 million to place No. 5. Focus Features had hoped for slightly more but believes Admission will benefit from word of mouth among older females. However, moviegoers only gave the film a B- CinemaScore, matching mixed reviews.
Focus’ financial exposure is limited considering Admission, playing in more than 2,000 theaters, cost a modest $13 million to produce. The comedy tells the story of a straitlaced Princeton University admissions officer (Fey) whose life takes an unexpected turn when she makes a recruiting trip to an alternative high school run by a former classmate (Rudd).
Harmony Korine‘s outrageous indie comedy Spring Breakers, which expanded nationwide Friday, isn’t that far behind Admission despite only playing in only about 1,100 theaters. The R-rated pic grossed $5 million, a decent number for upstart distributor A24 Films.
Spring Breakers, starring James Franco, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Benson, scored the best limited release of the year last weekend when it opened in three theaters in New York and Los Angeles. The pic’s cume is $5.4 million.
Oz the Great and Powerful placed No. 3 in its third weekend, upping its domestic cume to $177.6 million. The Disney tentpole now has earned $356.4 million worldwide.
Halle Berry thriller The Call held well in its second weekend, grossing $8.7 million for a domestic total of $30.9 million. The Sony and TriStar film came in No. 4.
At the specialty box office, new Lindsay Lohan pic InAPPropriate Comedy bombed, grossing just $172,000 from 275 theaters for a location average of $625. Lohan stars opposite Rob Schneider, Adrien Brody and Michelle Rodriguez.
IFC Films scored the top average of the weekend with the debut of Adam Leon‘s festival hit Gimme the Loot. Playing at the IFC Center in New York, the film grossed $23,400. It opens in Los Angeles and Chicago next weekend.
The Sapphires, another festival darling, opened in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles, grossing $40,927 for a solid theater average of $10,332 for The Weinstein Co.
Below are the top 10 estimates for the March 15-17 weekend at the domestic box office.
Title, weeks in release/theater count, studio, three-day weekend total, cume
1. The Croods, 1/4,046, Fox/DreamWorks Animation, $44.7 million
2. Olympus Has Fallen, 1/3,098, FilmDistrict, $30.5 million
3. Oz the Great and Powerful, 3/3,805, Disney, $22 million, $177.6 million
4. The Call, 2/2,507, Sony/TriStar, $8.7 million, $30.9 million
5. Admission, 1/2,160, Focus Features, $6.4 million
6. Spring Breakers, 2/1,104, A24 Films, $5 million, $5.4 million
7. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, 2/3,160, Warner Bros./New Line, $4.3 million, $17.4 million
8. Jack the Giant Slayer, 4/2,560, Warner Bros./New Line, $3 million, $59 million,
9. Identity Thief, 7/2,166, Universal, $2.5 million, $127.7 million
10. Snitch, 5/1,807, Lionsgate/Participant, $1.9 million, $40.3 million
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