"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 theaters. 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
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 percent of the audience was actually over
age 18, and 55 percent 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.
[to top of second column]
"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
"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
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.
Warner Brothers, a unit of Time Warner, released the film "The Lego
Movie." Sony's Columbia studio released "The Monuments Men." Vampire
Academy" was distributed by the Weinstein Company. Universal
Pictures, a unit of Comcast's NBCUniversal division, distributed
"Ride Along" and "Lone Survivor."
(Reporting by Ronald Grover and Chris
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