The sequel SpongeBob SquarePants: Sponge Out of Water just decimated Lana and Andy Wachowski's sci-fi thriller Jupiter Ascending and mystical actioner Seventh Son at the cineplex on its way to #1.
The Clint Eastwood-directed biopic "American Sniper" falls to the 2nd spot after three weeks on top
Pamela McClintock of THR:
Coming in ahead of industry projections, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water soaked aup an estimated $56 million from 3,641 theaters in its North American debut, giving new life to the family franchise and wresting the top spot from American Sniper.
The performance of the Paramount and Nickelodeon Movies sequel, combined with the blockbuster success of The Lego Movie on the same weekend a year ago, firmly establishes February as a home for animated fare (Lego debuted to a whopping $69.1 million). And overseas, SpongeBob is doing five times more business than the first movie, grossing $26.8 million to date from only 25 territories for an early world total of $82.8 million.
The news ranged from bad to terrible for big-budget sci-fi epics Jupiter Ascending and Seventh Son. The long-delayed Jupiter, starring Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis, opened to $19 million from 3,181 theaters despite costing $150 million to make, while Seventh Son, starring Jeff Bridges and the Oscar-nominated Julianne Moore, bombed with $7.1 million from 2,875 locations (the latter cost a net $95 million).
Sniper beat both of those films to come in No. 2 with $24.2 million from 3,885 theaters in its fourth weekend in nationwide release. Clint Eastwood's Oscar-nominated film has now grossed $282.3 million domestically.
Out of Water, earning a B CinemaScore, hits theaters more than a decade after The Spongebob SquarePants Movie opened to $32 million domestically on its way to earning $130 million globally. The first film was directed by Stephen Hillenburg, creator of the television show. This time, series writer and executive producer Paul Tibbitt directs, with regular cast members Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Clancy Brown, Carolyn Lawrence and Mr. Lawrence reprising their roles. Antonio Banderas, who plays a villainous pirate, and Slash also star.
The success of Sniper is sure to soften the blow of Jupiter Ascending for partners Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow. Directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski, Jupiter was originally supposed to open in summer 2014, but was delayed at the the 11th hour. The filmmakers are hopeful that the tentpole will make up ground overseas.
Jupiter Ascending skewed heavily male (57 percent) despite its female heroine, a mere earthling who discovers she is a galactic queen. It also played notably older despite its youthful stars, with 82 percent of ticket buyers over the age of 25 (it's likely that Wachowski fans made up a large share of the audience).
The film earned a B- CinemaScore from American audiences; ditto for Seventh Son.
Seventh Son stars Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore, who is nominated for an Oscar for best actress for Still Alice. The tentpole is the second box office dud in a row for Legendary after Michael Mann's Blackhat, at least domestically.
The good news for Legendary is that Seventh Son, coming in No. 4, has already earned $82 million internationally, including $26 million in China, where Legendary East is releasing the movie and where the country's state-owned film company China Film Group made an eight-figure investment in the film.
Universal is distributing Seventh Son on behalf of Legendary and has yet to open it in 15 foreign markets.
Despite competition from Spongebob, British family film Paddington rounded out the top five in its fourth weekend with a sturdy $5.4 million from 2,888 theaters for a domestic total of $57.3 million and worldwide total of nearly $200 million. The Weinstein Co. is distributing the movie in the U.S. on behalf of StudioCanal.
TWC also continued to see strong results for The Imitation Game, another best picture contender. The British biopic, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, fell just 3 percent to $4.9 million from 1,963 theaters for a North American total of $74.7 million.
Next Up: After lots of build-up the film adaptation of the erotic E L James book "Fifty Shades of Grey" at Universal Pictures and Focus Features arrives.
The sexually-explicit story follows 27-year-old billionaire Christian Grey (British actor Jamie Dornan) and 22-year-old virgin college student Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson TV's Ben and Kate and The Social Network"), who develop a relationship steeped in bondage, S&M, domination and submission.
Kingsman: The Secret Service is based on the comic book created by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons--follows a seasoned Secret Service agent (Colin Firth) who takes a younger agent (Taron Egerton) under his wing as they investigate the murder of every resident of a small town and a mysterious secret involving Mount Everest.
Michael Caine joined the cast in the role of the head of the Secret Service. Samuel L. Jackson will play the villain. Sophie Cookson ("Moonfleet") plays the female lead. Mark Strong, Sofia Boutella, and Jack Davenport also star.