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‘Lucy’ Conquers ‘Hercules’ as Johansson and Rock Face Off

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July 28 (Bloomberg) -- Luc Besson’s thriller “Lucy,” starring Scarlett Johansson, roughed up Dwayne Johnson’s “Hercules” to win a box-office battle of new releases over the weekend.

The Universal Pictures film pulled in $43.9 million to lead U.S. and Canadian ticket sales, researcher Rentrak Corp. said in an e-mailed statement today. “Hercules,” from Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures, generated $29.8 million.

Johansson went “toe-to-toe with Hercules and the Rock and she came out on top,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior analyst at Rentrak, said in a phone interview. “It’s a testament to Scarlett Johansson’s drawing power,” he said. “She can do no wrong.”

“Lucy” joins a number of smaller-budget movies that have done well this summer, such as “Neighbors” and “22 Jump Street.” The film, made for $40 million, according to Box Office Mojo, attracted a broader audience than the Greek epic “Hercules,” which cost an estimated $100 million.

Johansson plays a drug mule who accidentally ingests a hormone that frees her from mental and physical limitations, allowing her to exact revenge on her outmatched tormentors.

The movie was expected to generate $33 million in domestic sales, the estimate of Box Office Guru.

“Hercules,” starring Johnson as the Greek hero, was expected to take in $20 million. It received higher marks from critics, with 63 percent favorable reviews, according to aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. “Lucy” drew a 58 percent rating.

Returning Films

Among returning films, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” fell to third place with $16.8 million in sales. The summer sequel from 21st Century Fox Inc., which led the box office for the two previous weekends, has generated ticket sales of $172.5 million so far in domestic theaters.

Horror producer Jason Blum’s “The Purge: Anarchy” fell to fourth from second with $10.5 million in its second week.

Walt Disney Co.’s “Planes: Fire and Rescue” dropped to fifth from third on sales of $9.5 million.

Weekend sales for the top 10 films fell 13 percent to $132 million from a year earlier. Sales so far this year are down about 6.6 percent to $6.11 billion.

The following table has U.S. movie box-office figures provided by studios to Rentrak. The amounts are based on gross ticket sales for July 25-27.

                     Rev.    Pct.             Avg./    Total
Movie               (mln)    Chg. Theaters  Theater    (mln) Wks
================================================================
 1 Lucy             $43.9     --    3,173  $13,835    $43.9    1
 2 Hercules          29.8     --    3,595    8,289     29.8    1
 3 Planet Of Apes    16.8    -54    3,668    4,571    172.5    3
 4 Purge: Anarchy    10.5    -65    2,856    3,670     51.9    2
 5 Planes             9.5    -46    3,839    2,482     35.3    2
 6 Sex Tape           6.1    -59    3,062    1,977     27.0    2
 7 Transformers       4.7    -52    2,476    1,899    236.5    5
 8 And So It Goes     4.6     --    1,762    2,635      4.6    1
 9 Tammy              3.5    -53    2,562    1,348     78.2    4
10 Most Wanted Man    2.7     --      361    7,442      2.7    1

Top 10 Films Grosses

   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $132.0        $151.7       -13

Year-to-date Revenue

     2014          2013
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $6,114        $6,542      -6.6

Source: Rentrak Corp.

(An earlier version of this story was corrected because it included the wrong dates for the weekend.)

To contact the reporters on this story: Dakin Campbell in New York at dcampbell27@bloomberg.net; Anthony Palazzo in Los Angeles at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net Will Wade, Bruce Rule

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