G.I. Joe blasts past cavemen to conquer box office

By Lisa Richwine and Patricia Reaney, Reuters

Action movie “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” won the weekend box office battle in the United States and Canada, fighting off competition from cartoon cavemen, a Tyler Perry drama and an alien-possessed heroine trying to save the human race.

“G.I. Joe,” a sequel starring Channing Tatum, Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis, secured US$41.2 million in domestic ticket sales from Friday through Sunday, according to studio estimates. Last week’s winner, animated prehistoric adventure “The Croods,” slipped to second place with US$26.5 million in North America (the United States and Canada). “Tyler Perry’s Temptation” landed in the No. 3 slot with US$22.3 million. “G.I. Joe” opened Wednesday evening to get a jump on the Easter holiday weekend. The cumulative box office after Sunday is estimated at US$51.7 million. In international markets, the movie racked up US$80.3 million, for a global haul of US$132 million.

“The result is as spectacular as the look of the movie,” said Don Harris, president of domestic theatrical distribution at Paramount Pictures. “We couldn’t be happier with the result in terms of both the domestic and international box office and the response from movie goers.” Inspired by a Hasbro toy, “G.I. Joe” tells the story of elite soldiers fighting the enemy organization called Cobra as well as threats from within the federal government. The sequel to 2009’s “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” was slated to open last summer, but the release was delayed to convert the film to 3D. Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures, MGM and Skydance Productions produced the sequel for about US$130 million. Ahead of the weekend, forecasters predicted a domestic tally around US$38 million for “G.I. Joe.” Domestic ticket sales for “The Croods,” a Dreamworks Animation comedy about a family of cave dwellers, dropped 39 percent from its debut a week ago. The cumulative international box office takings rose to US$140.5 million.

“Temptation,” a departure from Perry’s hit comedies, focuses on a married woman drawn to a handsome billionaire. The movie stars Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Lance Gross and Vanessa Williams. Reality TV star Kim Kardashian plays a small role and helped promote the film through TV appearances and social media. Another new release, sci-fi romantic thriller “The Host,” finished in sixth place with US$11 million. The movie is based on a novel by Stephenie Meyer, author of the “Twilight” vampire series that became a blockbuster movie franchise.

“Host” features a love triangle centered around a young woman whose body is taken over by an alien with good intentions. The two live in the same body, first as enemies before they become friends who team up to save the human race. Irish actress Saoirse Ronan plays the lead character. Distributor Open Road Films acquired domestic rights for “The Host” for US$2 million. In fourth place, thriller “Olympus Has Fallen” earned US$14 million during its second weekend. The movie stars Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman in the tale of a White House under attack. Disney’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” came in fifth with US$11.6 million.