Street racers couldn’t catch a time-travelling dog and his son at the multiplex this weekend.
Though Disney’s Need for Speed was expected to take the No. 1 position at the box office, DreamWorks’ Mr. Peabody & Sherman took the lead, with the action film in third place.
The animated movie, about the adventures of a genius dog and the human son he adopted, earned $US21.2 million ($A23.71 million), according to studio estimates released on Sunday.
Debuting last weekend at No. 2, the 3D kiddie-jaunt features voices from Modern Family stars Ty Burrell and Ariel Winter.
“Our midweek numbers were very strong, indicating good and positive word of mouth,” said Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution at Twentieth Century Fox.
“If anything, this is exceeding (expectations). It’s a combination of likable characters and it’s a nostalgia play for those who are familiar with the show,” Aronson said.
Mr. Peabody and Sherman first appeared in the 1950s and early 1960s on Peabody’s Improbable History, a segment within the animated television series Rocky and His Friends and later The Bullwinkle Show.
“The family marketplace is giving every other genre a run for its money,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak.
“But the St. Patrick’s Day effect could be at play here, where families had to exercise their options at the theatre rather than the pub. That may have paid off for Mr. Peabody.”
Meanwhile, analysts predicted that Need for Speed, based on the popular EA Entertainment video game and starring Breaking Bad alum Aaron Paul, would come in at No. 1 this weekend. But with $US17.8 million, it arrived at No. 3 in the US. But the movie raced to the top of the international box office, bringing in $US45.6 million.
Warner Bros.’ warrior drama 300: Rise of an Empire, the 3D sequel to 2007’s 300, dropped to second place, with $US19.1 million, after debuting at No. 1 last weekend. Though its opening haul of $US45.1 million pales in comparison to the original, which debuted with $US70.9 million, Rise of an Empire has earned more than $US78 million since its debut.
Tyler Perry’s The Single Mums Club, starring Nia Long and Amy Smart, opened with $US8.3 million at No.5.
“This is one of Tyler Perry’s lowest debuts ever, but he cranks out hits every year for almost decade,” Dergarabedian said.
“He’s allowed a couple of missteps every once in a while.”
Leading the year’s early trend of films about religion, Fox’s Son of God grossed $US5.4 million in its third weekend. After opening at No.2 with $US26.5 million, it dropped to No.5 in its second week, earning $US10 million. Its performance may indicate that religious stories aren’t holding up at the box office. Plus Son of God, starring Diogo Morgado, lacks star power.
However, other upcoming films with a biblical thread feature leading men who are more likely to get viewers to theatres. Noah, out March 28, stars Russell Crowe. And later this year, in the Ridley Scott-directed Exodus, we’ll see Christian Bale as Moses.
Playing in only 66 theatres, Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel landed at No.8 with $US3.6 million. When it opened last weekend, the stylish comedy showed on just four screens in New York and Los Angeles. Still, it impressed with $US200,000.
Rounding out the top 10 is the Kristen Bell-starring cult-TV-show-turned-feature Veronica Mars. Its $US2 million debut was impressive considering the film’s funding came from a crowd sourcing campaign, the first high-profile project to do so.
Also opening this weekend was Jason Bateman’s directorial debut Bad Words. Showing in only New York and Los Angeles, the comedy earned $US120,000, one of the biggest per theatre averages of the weekend, with $US20,000 per movie house.
Sci-fi action movie Divergent, based on the Veronica Roth’s young adult novel and starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James and Kate Winslet, stands to knock every other film a place or two down when it debuts next weekend.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US and Canadian theatres, according to Rentrak. Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Tuesday.
1. Mr. Peabody & Sherman, $US21.2 million ($US15.3 million international).
2. 300: Rise of an Empire, $US19.1 million ($US41.3 million international).
3. Need for Speed, $US17.8 million ($US45.6 million international).
4. Non-Stop, $US10.6 million ($US12.5 million international).
5. The Single Moms Club, $US8.3 million.
6. The Lego Movie, $US7.7 million ($US4.7 million international).
7. Son of God, $US5.4 million.
8. The Grand Budapest Hotel, $US3.6 million ($US6.7 million international).
9. Frozen, $US2.1 million ($US10.4 million international).
10. Veronica Mars, $US2 million.