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Box Office: 'Avengers' crosses $1B worldwide; Depp has soft debut [Updated]

 Johnny Depp in "Dark Shadows"

"The Avengers" sucked the life out of "Dark Shadows" at the box office this weekend, as the superhero blockbuster dominated ticket sales and left the vampire comedy looking pallid.

After its $207.4-million debut broke the record for the biggest opening ever — not adjusting for inflation — "The Avengers" had another phenomenal weekend in theaters. In its second weekend of domestic release, the film featuring Marvel comic book characters such as the Hulk, Iron Man and Thor raked in an additional $103.2 million, according to an estimate from distributor Walt Disney Pictures. That means the movie made more on its second weekend than any other film in history, a record previously held by the three-day $75.6 million made by "Avatar." 

But "The Avengers" passed an even bigger milestone this weekend: It crossed the $1-billion mark at the global box office. Playing in 54 foreign countries this weekend, the movie grossed $95.4 million, raising its international total to $628.9 million. Combined with the film's $373.2-million domestic tally, the movie surpassed $1 billion after just 19 days in worldwide release.

PHOTOS: The billion-dollar box-office club

With so many moviegoers still rushing out to see the likes of Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson trying to save the world, fellow A-lister Johnny Depp didn't get much love at the multiplex. The actor's "Dark Shadows," directed by Tim Burton, collected a lackluster $28.8 million upon its debut. Heading into the weekend, even distributor Warner Bros. thought the film would open with at least $35 million. Given that Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow co-financed the picture for close to $150 million, the movie's debut is especially disappointing.

The majority of those who saw the film this weekend — 55% — were over the age of 35, indicating that the movie appealed mostly to those familiar with the 1960s ABC soap opera upon which it was based. The film attracted a slightly more female crowd, as 57% of the audience was female. But moviegoers didn't respond very positively to the picture about an 18th century vampire transported to 1972, assigning it an average grade of B-, according to market research firm CinemaScore. 

"Dark Shadows" marks the eighth partnership for Depp and Burton, who began collaborating on eccentric projects in 1990 with "Edward Scissorhands." To date, their biggest hit has been 2010's "Alice in Wonderland," which is one of the 12 films in the elite $1-billion club, a group including blockbusters such as "The Dark Knight," "Avatar" and "Titanic."

The pair have a pretty good track record at the box office, putting their quirky spin on classic tales such as "Alice" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." There are only a few titles that have failed to resonate with broad audiences, including 2007's "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," which made only a moderate $52.9 million domestically.

But like most of Depp's films, "Sweeney Todd" performed better overseas than it did in the U.S., grossing $99.6 million internationally. That will likely be the case for "Dark Shadows," which debuted in 43 foreign countries this weekend.

Meanwhile, the Weinstein Co.'s attempt to capitalize on the Mother's Day crowd with its re-release of 2012's best picture winner "The Artist" didn't go over very well. Playing in 715 theaters, the movie grossed $161,000 this weekend, amounting to a dismal per-screen average of $214. The mostly silent black-and-white picture, originally released last November, has now grossed $44.4 million.

[Updated, 1:44 p.m. May 13: "Dark Shadows" grossed a so-so $36.7 million this weekend from 43 foreign countries, including France, Germany and Hong Kong. The movie performed best in Russia, where it collected $5.3 million, and has yet to open in major markets Japan and Brazil.

 

In limited release, Pantelion Films opened "Girl in Progress," starring Eva Mendes as a single mother trying to balance her professional and personal duties. Playing in 322 theaters, the film grossed $1.4 million, amounting to a solid per-location average of $4,193. This is the second film from Pantelion — Lionsgate's co-venture with Mexican media company Televisa — to debut in the top 10, following March's Will Ferrell comedy "Casa de Mi Padre." The picture — which appealed to a 70% female audience — received an average grade of B+ from those who saw it this weekend.

Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office, with international results when available, according to studio estimates and Rentrak:

 

Continue reading »

Movie Projector: Even Johnny Depp can't stop 'The Avengers'

Dark Shadows will likely open to around 40 million this weekend
"The Avengers" will take a big bite out of the opening of "Dark Shadows," as the superhero blockbuster is set to dominate the box office for the second consecutive weekend.

After debuting with a record-breaking $207.4 million — the biggest opening weekend ever, not adjusting for inflation — "The Avengers" isn't likely to lose steam at the box office any time soon. In its second weekend, the film featuring beloved comic book characters such as  Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk is expected to collect an additional $90 million, according to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys.

Heading into the weekend, the film has already raked in a phenomenal $775.4 million worldwide and is no doubt headed for the elite $1-billion box office club, which has 11 members.

That means that "Dark Shadows," the vampire comedy directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp, will have to settle for the runner-up position with a debut of around $40 million. Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow co-financed the picture for close to $150 million, meaning the film’s projected debut will be good but not great, considering its substantial budget.

While “The Avengers” will be  serious competition for “Dark Shadows,” Warner Bros. is hopeful that many young male moviegoers who have already seen the adventure epic will opt for the Depp film instead this weekend. Both pictures will face one fewer rival this weekend because last month, Paramount Pictures decided to move the release date of "The Dictator" to May 16, five days after the debut of "Dark Shadows."

Paramount made the hasty move because the studio felt that the film starring Sacha Baron Cohen as a dictator from a fictional Middle Eastern country and "Dark Shadows" were offbeat comedies that would have to fight for the same audience.

“Dark Shadows” is the eighth collaboration between Depp and Burton, whose most successful partnership came with 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland,” which made over $1 billion worldwide. The director and actor first teamed on 1990's "Edward Scissorhands," and the quirky pair have since made a handful of similarly eccentric, dark comedies together, including “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” — their second-biggest hit ever.

Based on an ABC soap opera that began in the 1960s, “Dark Shadows” was a passion project for Depp and Burton, both of whom rushed home to watch the television program every day as school boys. In the film, Depp plays Barnabas, an 18th century lothario who is transformed into a vampire, imprisoned in an underground crypt, and only set free in 1972. The movie has earned only middling reviews, notching a 51% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes as of Thursday morning.

"Dark Shadows" will debut overseas this weekend in 42 foreign markets, where Depp has traditionally been popular. With the exception of last year's animated "Rango," every big-budget film the actor has appeared in in the last decade has performed better abroad than domestically. "The Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise has been especially popular with international audiences, and the last installment, "On Stranger Tides," made roughly $800 million of its $1-billion global take overseas.

In limited release, Lionsgate is debuting "Girl in Progress" in 322 theaters. The film, starring Eva Mendes as a single mother struggling to maintain balance in her personal and professional lives, is being distributed by Pantelion Films, Lionsgate's co-venture with Mexican media company Televisa.

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— Amy Kaufman

twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: Johnny Depp in "Dark Shadows." Credit: Warner Bros.

Miley Cyrus' 'LOL' is a box office flop — but how big a flop?

Miley Cyrus stars in LOL

This post has been corrected. See below for details.

Miley Cyrus’ latest film, “LOL,” hit theaters this past weekend, but the world may never know how it did at the box office.

Lionsgate released the teen romance, an adaptation of a popular 2008 French film of the same name, in 90 theaters with virtually no publicity. But the studio did not disclose ticket-sale data to the public or data company Rentrak, a highly unusual move in an industry where box office grosses are widely disseminated and analyzed.

The film, which also stars Demi Moore, played in a dozen states this weekend, including Utah, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Texas.  Executives at the studio did not believe the picture would prove commercially appealing and wanted to release it direct-to-video, according to people with knowledge of the situation who were not authorized to speak publicly about it. However, as a condition of its deals selling the picture to foreign distributors, Lionsgate was required to play "LOL" in nearly 100 theaters in the U.S. and Canada.

It did so but provided virtually no marketing support for the movie beyond a single trailer released online.

While Cyrus mentioned the film’s release on her Twitter account, the 19-year-old did not appear on any major talk shows and was not made available for interviews to discuss her role in the movie.

Unsurprisingly, several theater managers said the movie did dismal business at the box office this past weekend.

At the Great Escape Theatre in O'Fallon, Mo., the movie screened five times per day Friday through Sunday. But only 28 people showed up to see the film over the course of the weekend, amounting to $260.75 in receipts over the three-day period.

Richard Lintker, Great Escape’s city manager, said that Lionsgate was so eager for the theater to play "LOL" that the studio agreed to allow it to play it in place of the Jason Statham movie "Safe" this past weekend. The action film, also from Lionsgate, has not been a box office smash but would have likely made more money than the Cyrus flick.

"LOL" fared even worse at one of Atlas Cinemas’ locations in Ohio, where director of operations Chris Baxter said the movie collected a little over $100 from roughly 12 patrons all weekend long.

"It didn’t pay for the lights to be on," Baxter said. "It was literally the slowest movie we had this weekend, behind movies that have been out for 10 weeks."

Baxter noted that other Cyrus films — including the 2010 tear-jerker "The Last Song" — have performed well at the chain.

"This just wasn't marketed well," he said. "I've seen or heard nothing about it other than the posters we had in the theater."

As for the tween star herself, Cyrus seemed undeterred by the film's disappointing returns.

"Thank u so much for everyone who went to see LOL," she tweeted Monday morning. "It is a film I loved making and I am proud of... That's really all that matters to me."

A Lionsgate spokeswoman declined to discuss the movie or the studio's reasons for not reporting its box office receipts.

[For the record, 6:35 p.m., May 8: This post previously said O'Fallon is in Mississippi. It's in Missouri.]

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Photo: Miley Cyrus in "LOL." Credit: Lionsgate.

'Avengers' final opening weekend tally: $207.4 million

"The Avengers" sold $207.4 million worth of tickets in the U.S. and Canada this weekendTurns out "The Avengers" didn't sell $200.3 million worth of tickets in the U.S. and Canada this weekend, as Walt Disney Studios announced Sunday. It made even more.

The Marvel superhero movie actually collected $207.4 million, as it grossed more on Sunday than Disney, Marvel's owner and the movie's distributor, estimated that morning. Disney had said the film would collect $50 million, but it ended up with $57 million.

Sunday morning estimates are often off slightly, but it's rare that they underestimate a film's take by more than a few million dollars. And in the case of "Avengers," it means the record for the all-time biggest domestic opening weekend is now even higher in the stratosphere.

Overseas, "The Avengers" has grossed a total of $447.4 million since opening two weeks ago. Its international gross this past weekend was also higher than Disney estimated on Sunday: $157.5 million, compared with $151.5 million.

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-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Actors Tom Hiddleston, third from left, and Clark Gregg, second from right, pose for a photo as part of a celebration of the release of "The Avengers" after ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on May 1. Credit: Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images

Already a hit overseas, 'Marigold Hotel' has strong U.S. debut

Judi Dench stars in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."

"The Avengers" may have dominated the box office this weekend, but that didn't stop a handful of older moviegoers from checking in on "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."

The well-reviewed film, which follows seven British retirees on a trip to India, debuted in 27 domestic theaters this weekend and collected $750,301, according to an estimate from distributor Fox Searchlight. That means the film notched a strong per-theater average of $27,789.

Heading into the weekend, "Marigold Hotel" was already a hit overseas with its international gross of $70 million. Playing in 17 foreign countries this weekend, the movie grossed an additional $1.3 million, raising its tally abroad to $72.4 million. The well-reviewed picture has performed best in the United Kingdom, where many of its stars — including Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, and Tom Wilkinson — hail from. 

The film succeeded in the U.S. this weekend due to interest from the Baby Boomer crowd, Searchlight said. A number of matinee screenings for the movie were sold out, indicating that older adult audiences were the key demographic for the film, according to the studio's Executive Vice President Sheila DeLoach.

Searchlight and partner Participant Media financed the picture for $12 million after rebates and tax credits.

Next weekend, the movie will expand to 24 markets and will play in about 150 theaters. By Memorial Day, Searchlight hopes the picture will be in around 800 locations. 

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— Amy Kaufman

twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: Judi Dench stars in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." Credit: Fox Searchlight

Box Office: 'Avengers' has top U.S. debut ever with $200.3 million

Chris Hemsworth as Thor, left, and Chris Evans as Captain America in "The Avengers."

This post has been updated. Please see the note at the bottom.

After breaking box-office records overseas, "The Avengers" has conquered America.

The superhero action flick featuring Marvel superheroes such as Iron Man, Thor and Captain America had the biggest opening weekend of all time in the U.S. and Canada this weekend — not adjusted for inflation — grossing a powerful $200.3 million, according to an estimate from distributor Walt Disney Studios.

Heading into the weekend, pre-release audience surveys indicated the 3-D film would have a massive domestic opening of at least $150 million, giving it one of the top five highest U.S. debuts ever. Instead, the movie soared beyond expectations, easily surpassing the $169.2 million 2011 debut of previous record-holder "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2." The picture also raked in more money in its first three days than strong performers such as "The Dark Knight," "The Hunger Games" and "Spider-Man 3," all of which collected over $150 million upon their debuts.

PHOTOS: The billion-dollar box office club

The movie appealed to a wide swath of moviegoers; half the audience was under the age of 25, and 60% of the crowd was male. About 52% of those who saw the movie opted to shell out a few extra bucks to watch it in 3-D.

The film also had a phenomenal weekend overseas, where it opened in many foreign countries roughly a week ago. Playing in 52 international markets, the movie collected $151.5 million this weekend, raising its total abroad to $441.5 million. That means that after just two weeks in release, "The Avengers" has already sold $641.8 million worth of tickets at the global box office.

In the U.S., "The Avengers" began its ascent to the top of the box-office charts in the early hours Friday, when the movie scored $18.7 million from post-midnight screenings. Over the course of the day, the movie raked in $80.5 million — giving it the second-biggest opening day of all time, behind only last year's eighth and final "Harry Potter."

As if the news weren't already positive enough for Marvel and parent company Disney, moviegoers loved the film, assigning it a perfect average grade of A+, according to market research firm CinemaScore. That score indicates that the movie will generate excellent word of mouth in the weeks to come, helping to propel the movie into the billion-dollar club at the worldwide box office — an elite group that only 11 films, led by James Cameron's "Avatar" and "Titanic," currently belong to.

PHOTOS: 'The Avengers' Hollywood premiere

Disney's decision to open the film overseas before it hit U.S. theaters helped to turn the movie's debut into a worldwide event. Indeed, many Hollywood studios are increasingly beginning to open movies abroad first in an effort to capitalize on international ticket sales, which often account for the majority of the overall gross on big-budget event films.

"We had 70% of the international business open a week ago, and coming out of that space with such strong grosses signaled that this was not just a fan movie — not just a guy movie — but a movie for everyone," said Dave Hollis, Disney's executive vice president of distribution. "The international openings definitely helped to create some of the fervor we're ultimately witnessing."

To help promote "The Avengers" internationally, Disney rolled out the red carpet at premieres in Rome, Beijing, London and Moscow. So far, "The Avengers" has performed best in locations such as the United Kingdom, Mexico and Australia. This weekend, the movie debuted with about $17 million in both China and Russia, where the film is expected to be especially popular because local moviegoers typically embrace special-effects-driven fare.

"The Avengers," which brings together an international peacekeeping agency of superheroes to help protect the world from disaster, has already grossed more worldwide than any of Marvel's previous pictures, including "Iron Man 2," which sold $623.9 million worth of tickets in 2010. The Joss Whedon-directed film, headlined by a slew of A-list stars including Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson, also earned the best critical reviews since 2008's "Iron Man," notching a 94% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Marvel and Disney spent roughly $220 million to produce “The Avengers.” That’s by far the biggest budget yet for the famously thrifty Marvel, whose most expensive project to date has been 2010’s “Iron Man 2,” which was made for about $170 million. “The Avengers” cost more to produce because it had a star-studded cast whose characters — one of them a digitally created green giant, another wearing a high-tech suit of armor — required a variety of special effects.

“The Avengers” is the first Marvel film that is being marketed and released by Disney, which in 2010 bought the rights to Marvel's remaining two movie projects in its six-picture distribution deal with Paramount Pictures. Paramount had only been earning a distribution fee on the Marvel titles, whereas Disney retains the majority of the films’ profits. 

The success of "The Avengers" is critical to Marvel's parent Disney, which desperately needed some good news and a financial windfall following the studio's $200-million write-down on "John Carter" — one of the biggest losses of all time — and the ousting of movie chairman Rich Ross.

[Updated, 12:57 p.m. May 6: "The Avengers played especially well in IMAX, which ran out of seats to sell to moviegoers. IMAX screenings accounted for $15 million of the overall gross from 275 theaters, and 17 of the top 20 theaters for "The Avengers" this weekend were IMAX locations. Overseas, $6.1 million worth of ticket sales came from IMAX screens.

Here are the Top 10 movies at the domestic box office, with international results when available, according to studio estimates:

Continue reading »

'Avengers' scores No. 2 opening day of all time with $80.5 million

AvengersFans1

On its first day in domestic release "The Avengers" packed theaters and thrilled audiences.

The team-up of Marvel superheroes including Thor, Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk took in $80.5 million at the box office Friday, according to an estimate from distributor Walt DIsney Studios. That's the second-biggest day of all time, behind only last year's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2," which took in $91.1 million.

"The Avengers" grabbed the all-time No. 2 spot for a single day from "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," which took in $72.7 million in 2009.

Just as importantly, moviegoers gave the film an average grade of A+, according to market research firm CinemaScore. Such a perfect score is very rare and indicates word-of-mouth will be excellent and many fans will likely return for repeat viewings.

"Avengers" is now sure to gross more than $150 million through Sunday, giving it one of the biggest opening weekends of all time. If Saturday ticket sales are bigger than they were for the final "Potter" film, the superhero blockbuster still has a chance of recording the biggest opening weekend of all time, beating the $169.2-million record set by "Deathly Hallows -- Part 2."

Meanwhile, as of Thursday, "The Avengers" had raked in a massive $304 million overseas, a figure sure to soar much higher by Sunday.

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"Avengers" grosses $18.7 million in late-night shows

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Marvel comics fans in superhero outfits pose at a preview of 'The Avengers' in Madrid. Credit: Luca Piergiovani / EPA

'Avengers' grosses $18.7 million in late-night shows

With the sun rising on its first day in U.S. theaters, "The Avengers" has already taken in $322.7 million at the global box officeWith the sun rising on its first day in U.S. theaters, "The Avengers" has already taken in $322.7 million at the global box office.

Marvel's superhero team-up movie took in $18.7 million from screenings at or soon after midnight Friday morning in the U.S. and Canada, according to an estimate from distributor Walt Disney Studios. That's the eighth-highest total ever for midnight screenings, behind March's "The Hunger Games" and the last three "Twilight" and "Harry Potter" movies.

Most significant for Disney, all of those films that debuted on a Friday went on to have huge opening weekends of more than $125 million. "Avengers" seems destined to do that, with pre-release surveys indicating that the debut will likely exceed $150 million. That would put the film among the top five domestic openings of all time, not accounting for ticket-price inflation.

The picture, which teams previous Marvel movie characters Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor and Captain America with other superheroes, is already a tremendous hit overseas, where it opened in most countries last week. Including $22.9 million in receipts Thursday, its international take currently stands at $304 million.

By Sunday, "Avengers," which cost $220 million to produce, could amass nearly $600 million in worldwide ticket sales.

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Photo: Fans at Marvel's "Avengers" premiere in London on April 19. Credit: Justin Tallis / AFP

Ahead of U.S. debut, 'Avengers' opens with $178.4 million abroad

122011-avengers-stills

"The Avengers" is set to dominate the domestic box office next weekend with a massive opening of over $150 million -- but overseas, the film's ticket sales are already soaring.

The superhero action flick debuted in 39 foreign countries last week and has since raked in a phenomenal $178.4 million, according to an estimate from distributor Walt Disney Studios. By comparison, Universal Pictures' "Battleship" passed the $170-million mark overseas this weekend after three weeks in international release.

The movie, which was produced by Disney's Marvel Entertainment for about $220 million, brings together a cavalcade of beloved comic-book heroes played by A-listers such as Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner. The film opened in the No. 1 position in every country it debuted in over the weekend, and had the biggest opening weekend ever in locations such as Mexico, Brazil and Taiwan.

This weekend, the film performed best in the United Kingdom, where it had the strongest opening yet for a superhero flick with $24.7 million. The picture has yet to open in Russia, China and Japan, where the movie is expected to do colossal business.

Marvel's films typically resonate more strongly internationally than domestically. Last summer, about $268 million of the $449.3 million worldwide gross for "Thor" came from abroad. Even "Captain America," which obviously has more patriotic themes, did slightly better overseas: It made $191 million internationally, compared with $176 million in the United States and Canada.

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-- Amy Kaufman
twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: Chris Hemsworth, left, stars with Chris Evans in "The Avengers." Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Box Office: 'Think Like a Man' is surprise No. 1 again [Updated]

"Think Like a Man" No. 1 at weekend box office again

Four new films hit theaters this weekend, but moviegoers were still thinking about "Think Like a Man."

In a surprise win, the ensemble comedy topped the box office for the second consecutive weekend, collecting $18 million and bringing its 10-day total to $60.9 million, according to an estimate from distributor Sony Pictures. Heading into the weekend, the Judd Apatow-produced romantic comedy "The Five-Year Engagement" was expected to be No. 1. Instead, the movie debuted with a disappointing $11.2 million — far under industry projections of at least $18 million, and below even Universal Pictures' modest $13-million prediction.

Three other debuts also failed to make serious dents at the box office. "The Pirates! Band of Misfits," a 3-D stop-motion animated picture, started with a slightly better $11.4 million — though it cost about $30 million more to produce than "Engagement." The Jason Statham action flick "Safe," meanwhile, grossed an unimpressive $7.7 million, roughly as much as the lackluster $7.3-million opening of the John Cusack horror film "The Raven."

As a result of the weak performance of the slew of new films, ticket sales were down 30% compared with the same three-day period last year, when "Fast Five" debuted with a massive $86.2 million.

"The Five-Year Engagement" marks the second-worst opening ever for writer-director Nicholas Stoller, who teamed with star Jason Segel to pen the relationship comedy. The pair have successfully collaborated together before on projects such as 2008's "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and last year's solid hit "The Muppets."

Outside of March's "Jeff, Who Lives at Home" — a low-budget film that never played in more than 500 theaters — Segel has proved to be a reliable box-office draw in recent years. The 32-year-old actor is best known for playing overgrown man-children in movies such as "Marshall" and 2009's "I Love You, Man," and was one of the main reasons moviegoers said they showed up to see "Engagement" this weekend. However, moviegoers — like the critics — were ultimately not enamored with the picture, assigning it an average grade of B-, according to market research firm CinemaScore. Not surprisingly, the film appealed to a 64% female audience — but the crowd was a bit older than is typical for an Apatow film, as 57% were over the age of 30.

The movie, also starring Emily Blunt, follows a couple whose engagement is derailed for half a decade due to career ambitions. Universal and Relativity Media spent about $30 million to make the film.

"The Pirates! Band of Misfits" is the latest production from England's Aardman Animations that has failed to resonate in a major way with American audiences. Known for creating films such as "Wallace & Gromit" and "Chicken Run," Aardman's most recent production, last winter's "Arthur Christmas, only grossed $46 million domestically, though it raked in $100 million abroad. "Pirates" should follow that same trajectory, as it has already collected $63.7 million from 49 foreign countries.

In the United States and Canada this weekend, the movie attracted a 76% family audience, who gave the well-reviewed film an average grade of B. The movie, featuring the voice of Hugh Grant as a pirate trying to become buccaneer of the year, had a budget of about $55 million. 

"Safe," which stars Statham as a former cop on a mission to save a girl from international gangs, appealed mostly to older men this weekend. The opening for "Safe" was a bit lower than that of the typical Statham film: Last year, the action star's "Killer Elite" started off with $9 million, while "The Mechanic" debuted with $11 million. Audiences who saw his most recent film liked it a tad more than any of the weekend's other new releases, giving it a B+ on CinemaScore.

Lionsgate, which is releasing the film in the United States and Canada on behalf of film finance company IM Global, only paid for the film's prints and advertising costs.

"The Raven" received the most dismal critical reviews of any film hitting theaters this weekend — earning only a paltry 22% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Moviegoers — 59% of whom were age 25 and older — were more kind, giving the film an average grade of B.

The movie stars Cusack as 19th century author Edgar Allen Poe, who ends up having to face reenactments of the scary stories he penned. The film was made for $26 million by production and financing company Intrepid Pictures but was later acquired by Relativity for about $4 million.

The movie's opening weekend is not great news for Cusack, who has had a mixed track record at the box office in recent years. The 45-year-old actor was part of a phenomenal hit with Roland Emmerich's disaster epic "2012" two years ago, but has had less success with films such as 2007’s “Martian Child” and 2005’s “Must Love Dogs.”

[Updated, 12:13 P.M., April 29: In limited debut, the dark comedy "Bernie" scored the best per-theater average of the year for a specialty release. The film, directed by Richard Linklater and starring Jack Black as an undertaker who commits a crime but is still popular in his Texas community, grossed $90,438 over the weekend. Playing in three theaters, that amounted to a strong location average of $30,146. The movie, which is being released by Millennium Entertainment, debuted at the Los Angeles Film Festival last June and earned largely positive critical reviews.

Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office, with international results when available, according to studio estimates:

Continue reading »
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