‘G.I. Joe’ Sequel Tops U.S. Box Office With $41 Million

“G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” a sequel to the 2009 film about elite U.S. commandos, opened in first place in U.S. and Canadian theaters, taking in $40.5 million for Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures.

“The Croods,” from DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., dropped to second place from first with sales of $26.7 million, researcher Hollywood.com Box-Office said today in an e-mailed statement. “The Host,” based on a novel from “Twilight” author Stephenie Meyer, was sixth in its debut with $10.6 million.

Paramount released “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” on a weekend with little competition for the young males who turn out for PG-13 action adventures. The studio is getting a jump on a summer release schedule crowded with other big-budget action films including new editions of “Iron Man,” “Star Trek” and “Man of Steel.” “G.I. Joe” cost about $135 million to produce, according to researcher Box Office Mojo.

“I think the quality of the films this year hasn’t matched last year’s,” said Jeff Bock, senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations, in a telephone interview. “But summer’s a great equalizer.”

In the new “G.I. Joe” installment, the troops battle a government plot to destroy their team, while also fending off mortal enemy Cobra. Dwayne Johnson stars as Joe team member Roadblock. Adrianne Palicki plays trooper Lady Jaye, and Channing Tatum returns from the first film as Duke. The film cost about $135 million to make.

‘The Croods’

“This is pretty huge for this time of year,” Bock said.

The picture was expected to generate $37.5 million in opening sales, the forecast of Boxoffice.com. The film is based on Hasbro Inc.’s action figures. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and David Ellison’s Skydance Productions are co-producers.

“The Croods,” about a prehistoric family of cave dwellers, features the voices of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone and Ryan Reynolds. The film follows the sometimes dysfunctional family, led by Cage’s character, as they seek a new life after a shift in earth’s crust destroys their home.

DreamWorks Animation is looking for a comeback after “Rise of the Guardians” flopped in November, resulting in an $87 million writedown for the Glendale, California-based studio. News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox distributes films for DreamWorks Animation.

“I expect this one to hold up really well during the spring, since there’s no major animated film expected until Memorial Day,” Bock said.

‘The Host’

“Tyler Perry’s Temptation,” also new this past week, was third with $21.6 million. The film features Jurnee Smollett-Bell as a marriage counselor who escapes boredom with her husband by having an affair with a client. The movie, from Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., also features Vanessa Williams and Kim Kardashian. Perry wrote, directed and produced the movie.

“Olympus Has Fallen,” a thriller about terrorism from the independent distributor FilmDistrict, fell to fourth from second, taking in $14.1 million. Directed by Antoine Fuqua, the movie features Gerard Butler as a Secret Service agent saving America from a band of North Koreans who capture the White House, shoot up Washington and threaten the president.

Walt Disney Co.’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” fell to fifth from third with $11.7 million.

In “The Host,” Earth is invaded by parasitic aliens who inhabit the bodies of humans. Saoirse Ronan plays a young woman whose inner strength helps her wage a mental battle against the entity seeking to control her body and mind. Max Irons, Diane Kruger and William Hurt co-star.

Weekend revenue for the top 12 films was little changed at $139.7 million from the year-earlier weekend, Hollywood.com said. Sales this year are down 12 percent to $2.27 billion. Attendance is down 13 percent.

The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales for March 29-30 and yesterday.

                       Rev.             Avg./    Pct. Total
  Movie               (mln)  Theaters  Theater    Chg. (mln) Wks
1 G.I. JOE           40.5    3,719   10,891     --     51.0    1
2 THE CROODS         26.7    4,065    6,570    -39     88.9    2
3 TEMPTATION         21.6    2,047   10,572     --     21.6    1
4 OLYMPUS            14.1    3,106    4,555    -53     54.9    2
5 OZ THE GREAT       11.7    3,324    3,521    -46    198.4    4
6 THE HOST           10.6    3,202    3,310     --     10.6    1
7 THE CALL            4.9    2,439    2,020    -45     39.6    3
8 ADMISSION           3.2    2,161    1,497    -47     11.7    2
9 SPRING BREAKERS     2.8    1,379    2,012    -43     10.1    3
10 BURT WONDERSTONE   1.3    1,575      853    -69     20.6    3
11 IDENTITY THIEF     1.1    1,082    1,015    -58    129.9    8
12 JACK GIANT SLAYER  1.0    1,080      944    -65     61.4    5