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.
The road for "Noah" to theaters was bumpy. 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 percent of "very religious"
moviegoers were anxious to see 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 it was seen by their
governments as critical of 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."
"This is really a spectacular result," 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
Looking at tickets buyers, 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 works as a
movie," he added, noting its strong reviews with a 76 percent
"fresh" rating from the site Rottentomatoes.com.
[to top of second column]
And its strong performance at IMAX theaters, which cost more and
added another $6.2 million to the take, "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 in ticket sales, pushing its take in
domestic theaters to $95 million. The film features the voices 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 last
week and generated $8.8 million in ticket sales.
The weekend's 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 labor leader who
organized U.S. farm workers in the 1970s, sold $3 million and was in
12th place, despite playing in fewer than 700 theaters, according to
the site Box Office 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. The film opens in the United States and
Canada next weekend.
"Muppets Most Wanted" was distributed by Walt Disney.. Lionsgate
released "Divergent" and "Cesar Chavez." "Sabotage" was distributed
by Open Road Films, a joint venture of AMC Entertainment and Regal
(Reporting by Ronald Grover and Chris Michaud;
editing by Sophie
Hares and Meredith Mazzilli)
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