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‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ Opens Big Worldwide, Leads Strong Easter Weekend Box Office Top Ten

'G.I. Joe: Retaliation' Opens Big Worldwide, Leads Strong Easter Weekend Box Office Top Ten

“G.I. Joe: Retaliation” opened to a solid domestic three-day $41-million gross and twice-as-big international $80-million total to lead a strong Easter holiday weekend. The top ten grossed $139 million, improving on last year’s one-week later holiday by $24 million while equaling the total for the exactly one year ago. The weekend total improved $12 million from last week. Business is not yet exactly booming, but it seems to have stabilized, marking a big improvement on 2013 thus far. 

Dreamworks’ animated “The Croods” had a solid hold which, along with the usual strong opening for the latest Tyler Perry entry, added to the overall total. Only “The Host” among new openings failed to deliver.

1. G.I. Joe: Retaliation (Paramount) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic score: 42

$41,200,000 in 3,719 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $11,078; Cumulative: $51,700,000

With a boost from the holiday weekend, a Thursday opening, 3-D surcharges and a powerful overseas performance, Paramount started out well with the second film in the “G.I. Joe” series. While the budget came in over $130 million, the studio managed to keep the budget $50 million below the first entry – an unusual achievement in itself, and more impressive since “Retaliation”‘s summer 2012 opening date was pushed back to add 3-D and reshoot key scenes after Channing Tatum’s standing increased last year.

After several big-name male action stars flopped or underperformed earlier this year, this gross, on top of the last week’s surprisingly successful “Olympus Has Fallen” marks a return to business as usual, a welcome relief heading into a summer with mostly conventional time-tested formula films. What is encouraging for Paramount is that the parallel international grosses were nearly double domestic, far ahead of the roughly even results the first time around. With this overall opening, this sequel is heading toward the $400 million+ total gross it needs to become a solidly profitable film.

This is another strong showing for stars Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson, just after his more modestly budgeted drama “Snitch” had a respectable showing, as well as for the versatile Tatum. New castmember Bruce Willis, who carried the recent “Die Hard” entry, refurbishes his credentials far better than his older action star contemporaries.

This marks director Jon M. Chu’s biggest film to date after his earlier “Step Up 2 the Street” and the Justin Bieber concert film, as well as a major advance for its writers, previously credited with the much lower cost “Zombieland.” Skydance, which recently financed high-end films like “True Grit,” “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” and “Jack Reacher” was a partner along with MGM, with franchise film veteran Lorenzo di Bonaventura (“Transformers”) producing along with Brian Goldner (“Battleship”).

What comes next: The A- Cinemascore and the overall gross suggest enough positive word of mouth to sustain this to a necessary $150 million or so domestic gross which, along with continued international success, could be enough to keep the series going.

2. The Croods (20th Century-Fox) Week 2; Last weekend: #1

$26,500,000 (-39%) in 4,065 theaters (+19); PSA: $6,519; Cumulative: $88,618,000

A holiday weekend helped keep the drop to a normal level and an overall strong gross for this Dreamworks Animation production through new partner Fox. With international doing as well so far, this now looks like a success despite the initial $135 million budget, a nice return to form after the expensive failure of “Rise of the Guardians.”

What comes next: This should be able to approach $150 million in domestic gross, which is average these days for high-end studio animation releases.

3. Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor (Lionsgate) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic score: 30

$22,300,000 in 2,047 theaters; PSA: $10,894; Cumulative: $22,300,000

A rare dramatic turn from Tyler Perry (who doesn’t appear at all in this film) becomes his tenth overall (ninth as director) to gross over $20 million since 2005, a record unparalleled by any other filmmaker. With only a $20 million production cost (pre-marketing), this continues his long and successful track record as Lionsgate’s most reliable provider of hits.

Most of those films have been comedies featuring the Madea character. This one has Vanessa Williams and Kim Kardashian as the best known names in a domestic relationship drama, making its success all the more impressive.

What comes next: Audience reaction per the Cinemascore seems to be opposite the bad critical reaction (the film wasn’t pre-screened) which suggests this should reach the $60 million+ level normal for Perry’s films.

4. Olympus Has Fallen (FilmDistrict) Week 2; Last weekend: #2

$14,000,000 (-54%) in 3,106 theaters (+8); PSA: $4,507; Cumulative: $54,743,000

Competition from “G.I. Joe” didn’t help, but ahead of its release FilmDistrict would have been thrilled at a second weekend gross of $14 million and a total above $50 million after ten days. This has been a significant breakthrough for them as it becomes less specialized and more general release acquisition-based company.

What comes next: This should end up around $75 million domestic, which would be far above initial expectations.

5. Oz: The Great and Powerful (Buena Vista) Week 4; Last weekend: #3

$11,605,000 (-46%) in 3,324 theaters (-481); PSA: $3,491; Cumulative: $198,278,000

Not holding as well at this point as Disney would have hoped with a film this expensive, and with international so far not much ahead of domestic, this looks headed toward a worldwide gross somewhere around $600 million. That would make it the biggest 2013 release so far, but $400 million less than “Alice in Wonderland,” which they hoped to match. At that level, when all revenues are in, this should make a small profit, but not end up as the franchise starter they had banked on.

What comes next: With most school vacations over after this week, this might not be around that much longer.

6. The Host (Open Road) NEW – Cinemascore: B-; Metacritic score: 30

$11,020,000 in 3,202 theaters; PSA: $3,436; Cumulative: $11,020,000

A real disappointment for this first film based on a non-“Twilight” novel from Stephenie Meyer. Open Road acquired this $50 million production hoping for breakout success, but it had at best a mediocre opening with little prospect for sustaining itself.

Aimed at teenage girls, this starred Saoirse Ronan, last seen in “Hanna” as the heroine fighting off aliens trying to take over her mind. Both director Andrew Niccol (“In Time,” “Gattaca”) and producer Nick Wechsler (“Drugstore Cowboy,” “Magic Mike”) usually make smart, edgy films that get better audience traction.

What comes next: This looks unlikely to reach $30 million. It’s a flop.

7. The Call (Sony) Week 3; Last weekend: #4

$4,800,000 (-46%) in 2,439 theaters (-68); PSA: $1,968; Cumulative: $39,480,000

This Halle Berry thriller continues to perform adequately in its third weekend, heading toward a $50 million domestic total that many much more expensive studio releases have failed to achieve this year.

What comes next: This should help heat up Berry’s tepid career going forwar.

8. Admission (Focus) Week 2; Last weekend: #5

$3,253,000 (-47%) in 2,161 theaters (+1); PSA: $1,505; Cumulative: $11,759,000

The gross drop suggests mediocre word of mouth on top of its disappointing opening. This Tina Fey comedy has fallen far short of expectations.

What comes next: On the verge of not making the cut for next week.

9. Spring Breakers (A24) Week 3; Last weekend: #6

$2,758,000 (-43%) in 1,379 theaters (+125); PSA: $2,000; Cumulative: $10,100,000

While the unconventional comedy added some more theaters to its unexpectedly wide break, its numbers are strictly ordinary. Still, with its low budget and inexpensive marketing, it continues to be a hit.

What comes next: This should eke out a little more theatrical gross before going on to success on other venues. But its biggest achievement will be on putting A24 on the map as a distributor that can deliver significant unconventional films to mainstream as well as specialized theaters. 

10. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (Warner Bros.) Week 3; Last weekend: #7

$1,300,000 (-70%) in 1,575 theaters (-1,585); PSA: $825; Cumulative: $20,580,000

This Steve Carell magician comedy lost more than half its theaters in its third week as it ends its run.

What comes next: Watch it disappear.

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