Everything is awesome for the team behind The Lego Movie (Cinema Score: A). The 3D animated extravaganza is estimated to have earned a spectacular $69.11 million this weekend – the biggest opening of the still young year, and the second largest February opening ever (the top spot belongs to 2004’s Passion of the Christ). The Phil Lord and Christopher Miller movie blew past studio and analyst predictions, which had the pic in the $40 to $55 million range. Playing in 3,775 theaters, most of which were in 3D, Lego scored an incredible $18,307 per location average, and, including overseas profits ($18.1 million from 34 territories), The Lego Movie has already stacked up $87.2 million.
The Lego Movie is Warner Bros.’ first animated release in three years. Village Roadshow co-financed the pic. Featuring the vocal talents of Chris Pratt as Emmet the construction worker, Will Ferrell as the evil Lord Business, Elizabeth Banks as the brilliant Wyldstyle, Liam Neeson as Bad Cop, and Will Arnett as Batman, Lego resonated with both adults and children – 60% of the audience was over 18 years old. A sequel is reportedly already in the works.
But it wasn’t just families and kids who headed out to the theaters this weekend. George Clooney’s $70 million WWII pic The Monuments Men (CinemaScore: B+) exceeded expectations and took in an estimated $22.7 million from 3,083 locations. Based on a true story, The Monuments Men follows a team tasked with recovering art from the Nazis and returning it to their rightful owners and stars Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, and Cate Blanchett. The audience was divided fairly evenly (48% male), and 75% of attendees were over 35 years old.
The Sony release, from Columbia Pictures and Fox 2000 Pictures, boasted a $7,363 per screen average, which put it solidly in between Argo’s ($19.5 million) and Captain Phillips‘ ($25.7 million) opening weekends. After all the fuss around the delayed release, it seems that pushing Monuments Men out of the holidays (and awards season) was the best thing it could have done in terms of earnings and mustering up an undistracted audience. It’s also an all-time high opener for Clooney as a director – The Ides of March opened at $10.5 million and Leatherheads at $12.7 million.
The Kevin Hart/Ice Cube comedy Ride Along fell 21.9% from last weekend and snagged the third place spot after three weekends at No. 1 with $9.4 million. This places the PG-13 rated $25 million Universal pic at a $105.2 million domestic total. Universal had success opening 2013’s Identity Thief in the early part of the year. That film went on to net about $134.5 million after 17 weeks in theaters (11 on over 1,000 screens). Ride Along could definitely beat that. For Hart’s starring roles, crossing $100 million is a career high, too. Think Like a Man topped out at $91.5 million in 2012. Hart has three more releases slated for this year, including next weekend’s About Last Night.
Disney’s Frozen picked up throughout the weekend to take the fourth place spot with an estimated $6.91 million, bringing its domestic total to a mind-blowing $368.7 million. The animated musical dropped 22.6% from last weekend – which is still incredibly impressive considering the stiff competition from the Lego opening. Globally, Frozen passed the $900 million mark this past weekend, making it the 28th highest grossing film of all time and the fourth highest grossing animated release.
Finally, That Awkward Moment continues to have modest success in its second weekend in theaters, dropping 36.6% from its disappointing Super Bowl weekend opening. In fifth place, the Zac Efron, Miles Teller, and Michael B. Jordan bromantic comedy earned about $5.54 million, for a $16.85 million domestic total.
Outside of the top five, poor Vampire Academy (CinemaScore: B) opened to a dismal $4.1 million this weekend on 2,767 screens. The Weinstein Company needed at least double-digit earnings to consider franchise potential, but it looks like Richelle Mead’s series will go the way of recent big screen YA disappointments such as Beautiful Creatures and The Mortal Instruments.