The LEGO Movie trounces Clooney, Damon
The star power of George Clooney, Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett was no match for a 3D animated movie featuring 3 cm high characters in the US last weekend.
The LEGO Movie raked in $US69 million, giving Warner Bros. its biggest animated opening of all time, surpassing Happy Feet which made $41.5 million in 2006. That's also the second highest debut for February behind Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ in 2004.
Some 35% of the gross was generated by 3D locations, a higher than usual percentage since the format’s popularity started to wane.
Roadshow opens the $60 million production, which was animated at Animal Logic and produced by Village Roadshow Pictures, Lin Pictures and Vertigo Entertainment, on April 3.
Pundits expected the film from writer-directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord to win the weekend but not by such a huge margin over the Clooney-directed The Monuments Men.
A WW2 comedy-drama based on the true story of a group of soldiers and civilians who were tasked with saving the great art works of Europe from Hitler and from Allied air and bombing attacks, the film made $22 million.
That’s not a great start for a film costing $75 million, co-written by and starring Clooney, Damon, Bob Balaban, John Goodman, Bill Murray, Hugh Bonneville, Jean Dujard and Blanchett as a Belgian secretary for the Germans who organises most of the art thefts.
But the US distributor Sony insisted it was happy with the opening and it expects the film will have long legs. Fox launches the film here on March 12.
The dud of the weekend in the US was Vampire Academy, based on the first book in a series by fantasy author Richelle Mead.
Lambasted by the critics (the Boston Globe called it "contrived, ludicrous, cluttered, and derivative"), the film directed by Mark Waters (Mean Girls) took an anaemic $3.9 million.
That poses a challenge for the Australian distributor Studiocanal, which has dated the tale of a half human/half vampire girl and her mortal vampire best friend who discover their boarding school is overrun with bloodsuckers, for March 6.
Before the weekend both The LEGO Movie and Vampire Academy were touted as potential franchises. Chances of that for the latter now seem remote.