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Neill Blomkamp‘s Elysium may not match the debut of his sleeper hit District 9, but it’s still winning the uber-crowded North American box office race.
The dystopian epic, headlining Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, topped the Friday chart with $11.2 million for projected weekend earnings in the $29 million to $30 million range, slightly less than hoped for. The film received a B CinemaScore.
Blomkamp became an overnight sensation when his District 9 opened to $37.4 million in mid-August 2009 on its way to earning $210.8 million worldwide (the pic grossed $14.2 million on its first Friday). District 9 cost $30 million to produce, while Sony paid $115 million for worldwide rights to Elysium, which was packaged, financed and produced by MRC. (It’s not clear what the exact budget was.)
Elysium is one of four new films vying for attention at the box office this weekend.
Coming in No. 2 Friday was New Line’s R-rated comedy We’re the Millers, which grossed $8.5 million to narrowly beat Disney’s animated pic Planes. We’re the Millers, opening midweek, has grossed a pleasing $20 million in its first three days and is projecting a five-day debut of $37 million. For the weekend itself, it should earn $25 million.
Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, We’re the Millers stars Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts and Will Poulter as a fake family who smuggles marijuana out of Mexico. Ed Helms also stars in the film, which is benefiting from an A- CinemaScore.
Disney’s Planes, a Cars spinoff originally intended for a direct-to-DVD release, took in $8.1 million Friday for a projected weekend gross of $23 million. Based on the strength of matinee business, box office observers originally believed the film would even hit $30 million, but have since scaled back their estimates.
Either way, Planes is a likely win, since it cost a modest $50 million to produce. It also will beat the three-day numbers for The Smurfs 2 and Turbo.
Pixar did not produce Planes; rather, it was the brainchild of DisneyToon Studios, Disney’s direct-to-DVD unit. Dane Cook leads the voice cast of Planes, playing the role of Dusty Crophopper, who dreams of being able to fly at high speeds.
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, from 20th Century Fox and likewise opening midweek, placed No. 4 Friday with $4.9 million. Based on the bestselling YA series by Rick Riordan, the sequel is now expected to post a five-day debut in the $24 million range — well behind the $38.7 earned by the first Percy Jackson over President’s Day weekend in 2010.
Sea of Monsters, earning a B+ CinemaScore, was directed by Thor Freudenthal and cost $90 million to produce. Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson and Alexandra Daddario return in the top roles.
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