The LEGO Movie, an animated film based on the colourful plastic children’s blocks, snapped up $69.1 million in ticket sales to top weekend box-office charts, easily beating the George Clooney World War Two film The Monuments Men.
The Monuments Men, which also stars Matt Damon, Bill Murray and John Goodman, was second with $22.7 million in sales at U.S. and Canadian theatres. The film is based on the true story of U.S. soldiers, who rescued art masterpieces from Nazi thieves. After three consecutive weeks in the top spot, the Kevin Hart-Ice Cube comedy Ride Along took third with $9.4 million, according to data supplied by Rentrak. Led by the voices of Will Ferrell, Will Arnett and Morgan Freeman, The LEGO Movie features toy mini-figures of Batman, a pirate and others in a Lego universe faced with destruction on Taco Tuesday.
The film won lavish praise from critics as inventive and funny, with 112 of 118 critics giving it a ‘fresh’ rating on the movie review site Rotten Tomatoes, and far surpassed average industry projections of an opening weekend around $50 million. The LEGO Movie was heavily marketed by Warner Brothers and The LEGO Group, the Danish company that makes the popular snap together blocks. The toy company released 17 building sets inspired by scenes from the movie. McDonald’s released eight collectable holographic cups with its Happy Meals.
“It’s awesome,” said Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution for Warner Brothers of the blockbuster opening, which was the biggest of 2014 thus far. “We had a movie playing from 5 to 85,” he said. “Five-year-olds are enjoying it, their siblings are enjoying it, and their parents and grandparents are all enjoying it.”
Fellman noted that 59 per cent of the audience was actually over age 18, and 55 per cent were male. “We even had some midnight show business,” he said. Sales at 3-D showings were also far stronger than is usually the case with animated films.
The big numbers bode well for more LEGO films going forward from the studio.
The Monuments Men received mixed reviews from critics and was moved back from its original December 18 release date for additional post-production work and editing. The film, based on the book by Robert M. Edsel, was written and directed by Clooney. “It was very much in line with the high end of our expectations,” said Rory Bruer, Sony Pictures’ president of worldwide distribution of the $22.7 million figure. “We’re very happy with our opening, especially given all the noise of the Olympics and the big movies opening around us,” he said, adding that the film was playing well to adult audiences as was expected.
The weekend’s only other major new release, Vampire Academy, based on the first book in the Vampire Academy series by fantasy author Richelle Mead, opened in the No. 7 spot with $4.1 million in sales, according to studio estimates.
Rounding out the top five, Disney’s long-running musical Frozen took fourth place with $6.9 million, while That Awkward Moment was fifth, collecting $5.5 million in sales. Frozen has racked up $369 million since its November debut.
Lone Survivor, the tale of four U.S. Navy SEALs who run into an ambush in Afghanistan, was sixth with sales of $5.3 million. It has generated $112.6 million over seven weeks.
‘Wolverine’ to host Tony Awards for fourth time
Award-winning actor Hugh Jackman will return to host the 68th Annual Tony Awards, which honours the best of Broadway, organisers said.
It will be the fourth time Jackman will emcee the ceremony on June 8 from Radio City Music Hall in New York City, where it will be broadcast live on the CBS television network. He hosted the ceremony from 2003-2005 and picked up an Emmy award for his work on the 2004 show.
Jackman, 45, also won a Tony award the same year for his role in The Boy from Oz. The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, the presenters of the Tony awards, praised Jackman’s versatility and showmanship.
“Hugh is an extraordinary talent and loyal supporter of the Broadway community — whether he is on stage or in the audience — and we are honoured to have him back as host,” Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of The Broadway League and Heather Hitchens, executive director of the American Theatre Wing, said in a statement.
The actor, who was born in Australia, won a Golden Globe in 2013 for best actor in a comedy or musical for the film Les Miserables. He will reprise his role as Wolverine in X-Men: Days of Future Past, which is set to be released in May. The nominations for the 2014 Tony awards will be announced on April 29 in New York.