THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER – Scarlett Johansson’s Lucy opened to a winning $44 million at the North American box office, an impressive start for an action film featuring a female heroine. The movie, directed by Luc Besson, easily showed more muscle than Dwayne Johnson’s epic Hercules, which debuted at No. 2 to roughly $29 million for director Brett Ratner.

The pair of new offerings weren’t able to cure the ailing box office. North American revenue was once again down, this time by nearly 12 percent from the same weekend a year ago (the summer continues to be down by more than 20 percent).

Paramount and MGM, which partnered on Hercules, have much more at stake financially since the movie cost at least $100 million to make and had hoped it would do more domestically. However, the movie is making up ground overseas, where it took in $28.7 million over the weekend from its first territories, including a stunning $12 million in Russia. It has yet to open in much of Europe, Latin America or in larger Asian markets.

Lucy was produced by Besson’s EuropaCorp for a reported $40 million and is being released by Universal. The R-rated movie co-stars Morgan Freeman and features Johansson as a woman who ingests a drug that gives her extraordinary abilities. The movie only earned a C+ CinemaScore, although that didn’t seem to slow traffic on Friday.

Females made up 50 percent of all ticket buyers, while there was a large Hispanic turnout (29 percent, compared to 35 percent Caucasian). It’s the biggest opening for Besson as a director, and did nearly four times as much as his Colombiana, also starring a female action hero (Zoe Saldana).

Adapted from Radical Comics, Hercules — nabbing a B+ CinemaScore — stars Johnson as the mythical Greek hero. His new adventures begin when he’s enlisted by the daughter of the lord of Thrace to save her kingdom from civil war. Johnson stars opposite Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Joseph Fiennes, Peter Mullan and John Hurt in the PG-13 action epic.

Fox’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes placed a strong No. 3 in its third weekend with $16.4 million, a 54 percent decline and bringing the sequel’s domestic total to $172.1 million, nearly as much as the $176.8 million earned by Rise of the Planet of the Apes in North America.

Universal’s horror entry The Purge: Anarchy placed No. 4 with $9.9 million for a domestic total of $51.3 million. The movie fell a steep 67 percent, but cost just $9 million to make.

Animated family sequel Planes: Fire & Rescue rounded out the top five, falling 47 percent in its second weekend to $9.3 million for a domestic total of $35.1 million. Overseas, the Disney film earned $6.9 million from 50 markets for an international total of $21 million and global cume of $56.1 million.

Rob Reiner’s independent romantic comedy And So It Goes, starring Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton, failed to rally, opening to an estimated $4.5 million and coming in a distant No. 8. Clarius Entertainment is distributing the movie.

At the specialty box office, Anton Corbijn’s spy thriller A Most Wanted Man, starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman opposite Rachel McAdams, cracked the top 10 despite playing in only 361 theaters. The movie, based on the John Le Carre book, opened to $2.7 million for a theater average of $7,527.

Woody Allen’s Magic in the Moonlight, starring Colin Firth and Emma Stone, opened to an OK $425,730 from 17 theaters for a location average of $25,043. From Sony Pictures Classics, the film did less than either Blue Jasmine or Midnight in Paris.

Among holdovers, Boyhood, from director Richard Linklater and IFC Films, continues to impress in its third weekend. Expanding into a total of 107 locations, the innovative drama grossed an estimated $1.7 million for a cume of $4.1 million.

Labels: Lucy, Projects
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