LOS ANGELES (AP) - The caveman comedy "The Croods" left an indelible
mark on the wall, opening at No. 1 with $44.7 million, according to
Sunday studio estimates.
The 3-D adventure from DreamWorks Animation and
20th Century Fox features a voice cast including Nicolas Cage, Emma
Stone and Catherine Keener. They play a prehistoric family encountering
danger and strange new creatures when they're forced to find a new cave.
Opening strongly in second place with $30.5 million
was "Olympus Has Fallen," an action thriller from "Training Day"
director Antoine Fuqua in which North Korean terrorists take over the
White House. Gerard Butler, as a secret service agent, leads an all-star
cast that includes Aaron Eckhart as the president, Morgan Freeman and
"The Croods" has now made $108 million worldwide,
also opening this weekend in Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany and
Spain. In the United States, it's the only game in town as far as
animated films for the whole family, and it will continue to be so as
kids head out of school for spring break over the next couple of weeks.
"It's a terrific crowd-pleaser, it got an A
CinemaScore and an A-plus with audiences under 18, which leads me to
believe a lot of kids loved the movie," said Anne Globe, chief marketing
officer for DreamWorks Animation.
Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution
for 20th Century Fox, said "The Croods" had a stronger opening than the
$40 million the studio had projected.
"To come in at the $45 million mark, ahead of 'How
to Train Your Dragon,' which was another terrific movie from DreamWorks
Animation, is a great start to the spring holiday," Aronson said.
"Olympus Has Fallen" also opened higher than
expectations - much higher - given that FilmDistrict figured it would
end up somewhere in the under-$20 million range, said president of
distribution Jim Orr. This is by far the biggest debut for the
independent distributor, which was just founded in September 2010; the
previous best was the $14.3 million the "Red Dawn" remake made over last
year's Thanksgiving weekend.
"Millennium Films and Antoine Fuqua delivered a
brilliant, action-packed, serious thriller with an all-star cast led by
Gerard Butler, and the word of mouth seems to be terrific," said Orr.
"It not only exceeded all our pre-weekend estimates, as the weekend has
gone on, it's gotten better. This is the first action thriller in a
while that's gotten an A-minus CinemaScore, so it's obvious that people
are talking about it and enjoying it."
This one-two punch of "Croods" and "Olympus" - two
movies that appealed to two very different audiences - was much-needed
at the box office, which is down 13 percent from the same period last
year, said Paul Dergarabedian, box office analyst for Hollywood.com.
"I was really surprised by 'Olympus.' This year,
the R-rated action films have all fallen flat," Dergarabedian said,
including "The Last Stand" and "Parker." ''The marketing was good.
Gerard Butler - he's the real deal, he looks the part and everything.
And the theme of the movie, the fact that the president is under siege -
it worked on 'Air Force One.' There's something about that theme that
works for audiences."
But this weekend's haul is down 34 percent from the
same weekend a year ago, when the juggernaut of "The Hunger Games"
debuted. It made a whopping $152.5 million in its opening, which is more
than all the films in theaters combined will have made this weekend.
Among the other new films this weekend, the Tina
Fey-Paul Rudd college comedy "Admission" from Focus Features opened in
fifth place with just $6.4 million. But the buzzed-about "Spring
Breakers" from A24 Films, featuring Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens as
hard-partying college girls, did well in its first nationwide expansion.
It made $5 million on 1,104 screens for a total of $5.4 million over
the past two weeks.
Nothing really huge is on the horizon to give the
box office a boost until "Iron Man 3" kicks off the summer movie season
on May 3, Dergarabedian said. But the strong showing for "Olympus Has
Fallen" could bode well for the sequel "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" next
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at
U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Where
available, latest international numbers are included. Final domestic
figures will be released Monday.
1. "The Croods," $44.7 million ($63.3 million international).
2. "Olympus Has Fallen," $30.5 million ($2.2 million international).
3. "Oz the Great and Powerful," $22 million ($21.7 million international).
4. "The Call," $8.7 million.
5. "Admission," $6.4 million.
6. "Spring Breakers," $5 million ($1.1 million international).
7. "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone," $4.3 million.
8. "Jack the Giant Slayer," $3 million ($19.3 million international).
9. "Identity Thief," $2.5 million ($4.7 million).
10. "Snitch," $1.9 million.
Estimated weekend ticket sales at international
theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada) for films distributed overseas
by Hollywood studios, according to Rentrak:
1. "The Croods," $63.3 million.
2. "Oz the Great and Powerful," $21.7 million.
3. "Jack the Giant Slayer," $19.3 million.
4. "A Good Day to Die Hard," $10.5 million.
5. "Resident Evil: Retribution," $5.1 million.
6. "Identity Thief," $4.7 million.
7. "Very Ordinary Couple," $4.3 million.
8. "Wreck-It Ralph," $4.1 million.
9. (tie) "Warm Bodies," $3.5 million.
10. (tie) "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters," $3.5 million.
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