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Raking in the moolah

Lucy, Hercules beat expectations at weekend box offices

By: Reuters , Reported by Lucy | Mumbai |
Updated: August 8, 2014 1:05:16 am
Hercules Hercules

Lucy, starring Scarlett Johansson as a woman with a super-powered brain, collected $44 million to win the domestic box office race, outmuscling Hercules which took in $29 million for second place.
Both new films exceeded expectations, pumping some much-needed life into a lackluster summer at U.S. and Canadian theaters.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which topped the box office the past two weekends, finished third with $16.4 million.
Lucy, directed by French action film specialist Luc Besson, stars Johansson as a woman who can stop traffic and move objects with her mind after a drug planted in her body causes her brain to operate at abnormally high levels. The special effects-laden film was made for a relatively inexpensive $40 million, according to the movie site Box Office Mojo.
Nikki Rocco, president for Domestic Distribution at Universal Pictures, the Comcast Corp unit that released the film, said the studio had maintained high hopes for the “R-rated original concept female-driven action movie.”
Broad interest from ticket buyers showed the film provided “a different side to an action film,” Rocco added.
Made for a brawny $100 million, Hercules, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the title role, got mixed reviews, though nearly two-thirds of critics on the site Rotten Tomatoes gave it a “fresh” rating.
Megan Colligan, head of domestic marketing and distribution at Viacom’s Paramount Pictures which jointly released the film with MGM, credited Johnson’s “charisma” with helping drive the opening, which exceeded predictions by several million.
“It’s exactly what we had hoped for,” she said of the total.
Hercules is the year’s second film featuring the legendary muscle man. The Legend of Hercules opened in January and generated a paltry $18.8 million, according to Box Office Mojo.
While the new film and Lucy both beat opening weekend industry predictions, Hollywood continues to be in a funk.
With few of the hugely-successful films that usually propel viewing, this summer’s box office is some 20 percent behind last year with $2.93 billion in ticket sales, versus $3.67 billion in 2013, which ended as a record summer according to Rentrak.
Universal Pictures’ low-budget horror film The Purge: Anarchy was fourth with $9.9 million in sales and has totaled an impressive $51.3 million through its first two weekends. Walt Disney Co’s animated sequel Planes: Fire and Rescue landed in the No. 5 slot, grossing $9.3 million. The 20th Century Fox studio, a unit of Twenty-First Century Fox, released Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

 

Lucy box office bonanza lifts Besson fortune by $5 million

French film director Luc Besson was over $5 million richer after his film Lucy starring Scarlett Johansson as a woman with a super-powered brain topped the North American box office at the weekend. Shares in film-making company Europacorp, in which he holds a 44 percent stake or some 12.94 million shares, climbed 7.5 percent to 4.15 euros each, valuing his holding at 53.7 million euros ($72.1 million), up by 3.75 million ($5.04 million) from Friday’s stock market close.
Lucy collected $45 million at the weekend, Europacorp said in a statement, outmuscling Hercules, which took in $29 million for second place. Johansson plays a woman who can stop traffic and move objects with her mind after a drug planted in her body causes her brain to operate at abnormally high levels. The special effects-laden movie was released by Universal Pictures, a unit of Comcast Corp, and made for a relatively inexpensive $40 million, according to the movie site Box Office Mojo. Gilbert Dupont analyst Jean-Baptiste Sargeant said even though royalties would not come through for two or three years, Lucy’s strong showing would have an instant image-related impact for Europacorp. “It’s simpler to attract big cinema names when you can leverage a success,” he said.

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