Belfast Telegraph

Monday 2 March 2015

Ender's Game tops US box office

Asa Butterfield and Harrison Ford star in Ender's Game
Asa Butterfield and Harrison Ford star in Ender's Game

Ender's Game has scored the number one slot at the US box office, earning 28 million dollars (£17.5m) in its opening weekend and sending Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa into second place, according to studio estimates.

Lionsgate's adaptation earned an additional two million dollars (£1.2m) in five international territories.

Based on the novel by Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game stars Asa Butterfield and Harrison Ford as intergalactic soldiers.

Comments made by Card expressing opposition to gay marriage led some to call for a boycott of the film. But a strong first-place opening met the studio's pre-weekend expectations.

However, ticket sales didn't come close to the opening weekends of other young-adult science-fiction adaptations such as Twilight and The Hunger Games, although it did fare better than Beautiful Creatures and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.

"Ender's Game is a big budget movie that could be the start of a franchise," said box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of Rentrak. "This time of year is not exactly a hotbed of million-dollar openings, but once they launch worldwide, it will do well."

A representative for Lionsgate declined to be interviewed for this story.

Paramount's candid-camera comedy Bad Grandpa, starring Johnny Knoxville disguised as an old man, brought in an additional 20.5 million dollars (£12.8m) in its second weekend, with a domestic total reaching more than 62 million dollars (£39m). It also picked up six million dollars (£3.7m) in international ticket sales.

Other films opening this weekend didn't generate as much enthusiasm.

CBS Films' Last Vegas, featuring an all-star cast of silver screen veterans including Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline, opened in third place, with 16.5 million dollars (£10.3m).

"It's interesting to see the number of stars that are not in their 20s in the top films," Dergarabedian said. Ender's Game has Harrison Ford and Viola Davis, and Last Vegas is like a Hangover for the older crowd. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney (in Gravity) appeal to an older audience, and 12 Years a Slave, which continues to impress as it expands into more and more theatres, is a very sophisticated drama."

Relativity Media's 3D animated kiddie flick Free Birds, with characters voiced by Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson and Amy Poehler, debuted in the fourth spot, with 16.2 million dollars (£10m).

After its fifth weekend at the box office, the Warner Bros 3D stunner Gravity is still holding in the fifth position. It banked 13.1 million dollars (£8.2m) over the weekend, bringing its North American total to 220 million dollars (£138m).

Considered an Oscar contender, 12 Years A Slave earned 4.6 million dollars (£2.8m) at number seven in its third weekend.

Disney's Thor: The Dark World earned an impressive 109.4 million dollars (£68.7m) in its first international weekend. The Marvel superhero sequel opens in the US next weekend.

With the opening of Thor: The Dark World, Disney's cumulative international box office for 2013 has passed the studio's previous international record of 2.303 billion dollars (£1.446bn), which was set in 2010.

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