Lego Superheroes Triumph Over S&M Lovers at U.S. Box Office

“The Lego Batman Movie,” a spinoff of the successful toy tale, topped the box office on its first weekend, proving Warner Bros. can score by combining the superhero and kids franchises.

The animated feature, with the voices of Mariah Carey and Will Arnett, collected an estimated $53 million in its debut in U.S. and Canadian theaters this weekend, ComScore Inc. said in an e-mailed statement Monday. That was less than the $76 million anticipated by researcher Box Office Mojo. The movie exceeded new installments based on the best-selling “Fifty Shades of Grey” erotic book series and the Keanu Reeves vehicle “John Wick.”

Lego is one of the core brands Warner Bros. has been working to expand into a series of movies after “The Lego Movie” became a surprise smash in 2014. The studio, owned by Time Warner Inc., also plans several movies based on the DC Comics universe, home of Batman, and on books from “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling. A sequel to “The Lego Movie” is due in 2019, and a spinoff based on the Lego character Ninjago will be released later this year.

In “Lego Batman,” directed by Chris McKay, Arnett plays the caped crusader who wants to save the city of Gotham from the Joker, voiced by Zach Galifianakis. But to do that he has to drop the lone vigilante persona. Critics loved it, with 91 percent giving positive reviews, according to aggregator Rottentomatoes.com. The film cost $80 million to make.

On the other side of the scale, “Fifty Shades Darker” scored only 9 percent positive reviews yet collected an estimated $46.6 million while coming in second for the weekend. The film, costing $55 million, was expected to generate $46 million, according to BoxOfficePro.com. That compares with the first film’s $85 million debut. In this sequel in a planned trilogy, Anastasia has to face the anger and envy of Christian Grey’s former girlfriend. Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan reprise their roles in the romance.

“John Wick,” released in 2014, is one of the few recent titles from Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. that generated enough buzz to justify a sequel. In the first film, Keanu Reeves plays an ex-hitman who comes out of retirement after gangsters kill his dog. In “Chapter Two,” which cost more than $35 million to make, Reeves’s character finds out there is a bounty on his head. With 91 percent positive reviews, the film placed third with $30.4 million in ticket sales, compared with the $28 million prediction of Hollywood Stock Exchange.

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