Noah, starring Russell Crowe as the biblical figure who built an ark to save his family and specimens of every animal from the great flood, collected $44 million in the U.S. and Canada. It sailed past last weekend’s winner, Divergent, based on the novel by Veronica Roth about a dystopian world divided into factions. Divergent collected $26.5 million and a total of $95 million since its March 21 release. Muppets Most Wanted, starring Ty Burrell and Tina Fey with Jim Henson’s furry puppets, was third with $11.4 million in ticket sales from Friday through Sunday, according to estimates provided by Rentrak.
It was a bumpy ride for Noah. To counter reports in trade newspapers that Christians disapproved of the film, Paramount Pictures, the film’s distributor, commissioned a survey by Nielsen that found 83 per cent of, “very religious” moviegoers were in fact, anxious to watch the film.
That helped push the film well beyond box-office experts forecast of an opening weekend of about $36 million. The film, directed by Black Swan and The Wrestler director, Darren Aronofsky was banned from theaters in Pakistan, Indonesia and other countries because the government in those countries felt that the movie criticised Islam.
Paramount inserted an explanatory message, before the movie that said, “the film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values and integrity that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide.”
“The results are spectacular,” said Don Harris, president of domestic theatrical distribution for Paramount, a unit of Viacom Inc., who said the studio had anticipated an opening of around $32 million or $33 million going into the weekend. Looking at the response, Harris noted that Noah, which cost about $125 million to make, performed well across the board, “with African-American communities, with Latino communities, in the suburbs and in the central cities.”
As to the controversy that built up around the film, Harris said, “it probably was helpful. Anything that causes people to talk about a movie is good for a movie. But ultimately, the movie succeeded because it worked.”
The film also performed well at IMAX theaters, which cost more and added another $6.2 million to the take. “It tells you people view the movie as an epic and want to see it in its biggest and best version,” Harris said. In fourth place for the weekend, the animated film, Mr. Peabody & Sherman collected $9.5 million, pushing its take in domestic theaters to $95 million. The film has voiceovers of Ty Burrell, Ariel Winter and Mel Brooks. Rounding out the top five, The Grand Budapest Hotel, director Wes Anderson’s offbeat look at a rundown hotel and its scheming concierge, expanded its run to nearly 1,000 theaters from 300 in its opening week and generated $8.8 million.
Other widely distributed new film, Sabotage, sold just $5.3 million worth of tickets for the No. 7 spot, another disappointment for a film starring one-time box-office superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger. The 66-year old former California governor plays the head of an elite Drug Enforcement Agency task force that finds itself at risk of being taken down themselves.
Cesar Chavez, starring Michael Pena as the labour leader who organised U.S. farm workers in the 1970s, sold $3 million, despite playing in fewer than 700 theaters, according to the site BoxOffice Mojo.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier took in an estimated $75.2 million in its first weekend of overseas release from 32 territories, Disney said.
Disney’s Frozen becomes top-grossing animated film
Disney’s hit film Frozen has become the top-grossing animated film in box-office history, as the musical topped $1 billion in global sales.
The film has sold $398.4 million worth of tickets at domestic (U.S. and Canadian) theaters since opening on November 27 on the eve of the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend. Foreign collections have added another $674 million, for a global total of $1.072 billion, Disney said.
Frozen, inspired by The Snow Queen fairytale, is the story of a Scandinavian princess who must reconnect with her sister, the Queen, who has the power of freezing anything into ice with her hands and accidentally sets off a long winter that is destroying their kingdom. The previous animated-film box- office champion was 2010’s Toy Story 3, which racked up $1.063 billion in sales, according to Boxofficemojo.com. Both films were distributed by Walt Disney Pictures.
Frozen, which stayed in the top 10 films on domestic box-office charts for more than three months, also has now become the 10th-largest grossing film in cinema history.