‘Lego Movie’ Blocks Rivals to Lead Theaters for 3rd Weekend

“The Lego Movie,” the animated film from Warner Bros., held off two new releases and returning features to lead ticket sales in U.S. and Canadian cinemas for a third straight weekend.

The movie, based on the building blocks from the Danish toy company Lego A/S, collected $31.3 million in domestic sales for Time Warner Inc.’s film division, Rentrak Corp. said today in an e-mailed statement. Two new films, Relativity Media LLC’s “3 Days to Kill” and Sony Corp.’s “Pompeii,” opened in second and third place, respectively.

“The Lego Movie” and Academy Award nominees still playing in theaters are giving the U.S. film industry a powerful push early in 2014. As of this weekend, domestic ticket sales were ahead 9.5 percent from a year earlier. The Oscars will be handed out March 2 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

“‘The Lego Movie’ has done such good business that it’s lifting the overall marketplace,” Paul Dergarabedian, Rentrak’s senior media analyst, said in an interview. “The staying power for this film is pretty unbelievable. More than $31 million in its third weekend -- that would be a solid opening weekend for any film in the first quarter.”

“The Lego Movie” is the top release of 2014, with $183 million in domestic revenue, according to Rentrak.

The picture features the voices of Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell and Morgan Freeman in a story about an evil tyrant, Lord Business, who tries to glue the universe together.

Lego Cameos

The movie includes appearances by Lego versions of Batman, Abraham Lincoln, the Green Lantern and figures from “Star Wars,” bringing in characters that appeal to older audiences as well as children. Chris Pratt supplies the voice of Emmet Brickowoski, the ordinary Lego figure thought to be crucial to saving the block-toy world.

“3 Days to Kill,” featuring Kevin Costner, opened with weekend sales of $12.2 million. BoxOffice.com had forecast opening sales of $8.5 million for the feature from the independent studio Relativity Media.

Costner plays an international spy, Ethan Renner, who is giving up his life of intrigue to build a closer relationship with his estranged daughter. First he must complete a mission: hunting down a ruthless terrorist while looking after his teen daughter Zoey, played by Hailee Steinfeld.

The film cost about $28 million to make, according to Box Office Mojo. Costner “is definitely back” and will also star in several other movies set to come out this year, including the football movie “Draft Day,” Dergarabedian said.

Mount Vesuvius Erupts

“Pompeii,” distributed by Sony, generated ticket sales of $10.3 million in its debut, compared with the $9 million estimate of BoxOffice.com. The film features “Game of Thrones” star Kit Harington as the slave-gladiator Milo in 79 A.D. as Mount Vesuvius erupts.

Milo is in a race to save his true love Cassia, played by Emily Browning, who unwilling weds a corrupt Roman senator.

The film was produced by FilmDistrict, Constantin Film Produktion, Don Carmody Productions and Impact Pictures, according to Imdb.com. Box Office Mojo estimated the production budget at $100 million.

Among returning films, “RoboCop,” Sony’s remake of the 1987 thriller, produced $9.8 million in weekend sales to place fourth in its second weekend. BoxOffice.com was projecting $11.5 million for the film, which was produced with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. and Strike Entertainment, according to Imdb.com.

Part-Man, Part-Machine

The picture, about a part-man, part-machine police officer, stars Joel Kinnaman in the title role. Critically injured in the line of duty, he is rebuilt by a technology conglomerate that sees the chance to profit by providing a RoboCop in every city. The movie also features Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton.

“The Monuments Men,” directed, co-written and starring George Clooney, fell to fifth place from third last weekend, with $7.9 million for Sony. Set during World War II, it follows a group of aging museum directors, curators and art historians in a race to rescue art trapped behind enemy lines as the Third Reich falls. The movie, which also stars Matt Damon and Bill Murray, has taken in almost $58 million in three weeks.

“It’s doing just fine, but it plays to an older crowd,” Dergarabedian said. “Sometimes when you have that many big stars in a movie, expectations are really high. We’ll see how it goes over the long haul.”

“About Last Night,” also from Sony, generated sales of $7.5 million, falling to sixth from second place. BoxOffice.com had forecast revenue of $10.5 million.

Remake From 1986

The film, starring Kevin Hart, is a remake of the 1986 romantic comedy that starred Rob Lowe and Demi Moore. The new film moves to Los Angeles from Chicago and follows two couples who see their relationships tested in the real world.

Weekend revenue for the top 10 films rose 12 percent to $94.3 million from a year earlier, Rentrak said. Domestic box-office sales year to date are $1.52 billion, up 9.5 percent from a year earlier.

The following table has U.S. movie box-office figures provided by studios to Rentrak. The amounts are based on gross ticket sales for Feb. 21 to Feb. 23.

                     Rev.  Pct.            Avg./   Total
Movie               (mln)  Chg. Theaters Theater   (mln)    Wks
 1 Lego Movie       $31.3  -37    3,890   $8,048   $183.0    3
 2 3 Days To Kill    12.2   --    2,872    4,263     12.2    1
 3 Pompeii           10.3   --    2,658    3,890     10.3    1
 4 RoboCop            9.8  -55    3,372    2,908     44.0    2
 5 Monuments Men      7.9  -49    3,064    2,582     57.9    3
 6 About Last Night   7.5  -71    2,253    3,344     38.3    2
 7 Ride Along         4.6  -47    2,186    2,115    123.1    6
 8 Frozen             4.4  -29    1,891    2,329    384.1   14
 9 Endless Love       4.0  -70    2,896    1,370     19.8    2
10 Winter’s Tale      2.2  -70    2,965      733     11.3    2

Top 10 Films Grosses

This Week Year Ago Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $94.3 $84.2 +12

Year-to-date Revenue

2014 2013 YTD YTD Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $1,523 $1,391 +9.5 Source: Rentrak Corp.
Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.