G.I. Joe: Retaliation Commands Box Office on Easter Weekend

Watch Under the Dome First Footage Based on Stephen King's BookDespite an eight-month release delay, Paramount’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation stormed the North American box office over the Easter holiday weekend to beat out fellow newcomers Tyler Perry’s Temptation and The Host. Overall, the top ten was up eight percent from last year at this time when The Hunger Games earned a big $58.5 million in its second go-around and Wrath of the Titans opened to $33 million.

Originally set to open June 28, 2012, Paramount infamously pulled the $135 million G.I. Joe: Retaliation from its summer schedule at the last minute. While the pull all but screamed that the studio was worried that the summer event flick was about to be buried by the likes of The Amazing Spider-Man, the reasoning the studio gave for the decision was twofold. The first reason was to post-convert the film to 3D, and the second was to add more scenes of Channing Tatum to the movie. As we all know by now, Tatum’s box office appeal skyrocketed last year thanks to 21 Jump Street and Magic Mike. Whatever the truth for the move may actually be, it appears that in the end Paramount’s move proved to be a very smart one.

Launching last Thursday in 3,719 theaters, Retaliation landed with a big $51 million for a solid per-screen average of $10,891. For the Friday-to-Sunday time period, the movie earned $40.5 million. The $51 million earned in its first four days was slightly lower than the $54.7 million earned by the original in August of 2009.

Retaliation’s opening was potent enough to make its debut the second-highest Easter weekend opening ever. The record is still held by the 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans, which earned just north of $61 million in its debut. More good financial news arrived from the foreign markets where an additional $80 million was earned this past weekend.

While the critics slammed G.I. Joe: Retaliation to the tune of a 31% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes – which puts it just below the original’s 34% approval – ticket buyers were a little more receptive in awarding an encouraging “A-” CinemaScore rating, which could bode well for the film’s prospects over the next few weeks before the likes of Oblivion, Pain and Gain and Iron Man 3 arrive.

Last week’s number one film, the animated comedy The Croods, displayed some impressive legs in its second round as the family hit eased only 39% from its opening numbers. The Fox/Dreamworks release held onto 4,065 screens to earn a solid $26.7 million to bring its ten-day domestic total to a solid $88.8 million. With $138.6 million already earned from foreign markets, The Croods has pulled in a great $227 million so far. Domestically, the film should hit the $100 million mark by the end of next weekend and could make its way to $140 million by the end of its North American run.

It’s been a while since filmmaker Tyler Perry had a movie out on the market. Okay, nine months isn’t exactly an eternity but as far as Tyler Perry-directed features go nine months is quite a long time. Absence hasn’t exactly made the hearts of fans grow fonder, but it certainly has not cost him any viewers. The filmmaker’s latest feature Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor had a debut in line with most of the openings for Perry’s movies: the critics hated it, it was released by Lionsgate on a little over 2,000 screens (2,047 to be exact) and it went on to earn a gross north of $20 million ($21.6 million to be precise). Perry has two more movies in the pipeline for 2013: Peeples in May and A Madea Christmas in December.

In fourth place was FilmDistrict’s Olympus Has Fallen, which took a direct hit from the arrival of Joe and his friends. The Antoine Fuqua feature fell (no pun intended) by 53% in its second weekend to $14.1 million on 3,106 screens. The ten-day total for Olympus stands at a good $54.8 million and could make its way to the $75 million mark.

Inching ever so closer to the $200 million domestic milestone was the nation’s number five film Oz the Great and Powerful. The Sam Raimi fantasy feature fell 45.7% in its fourth weekend on 3,324 screens to earn $11.7 million. To date, the movie has earned $198.3 million and should cross the $200 million mark by the middle of this week. Overseas, the James Franco starrer has earned $214 million.

The third and final opening for the weekend was Open Road Films’ The Host, which bombed in sixth place with a dismal $10.6 million from 3,202 theaters. Based on the novel by Twilight author Stephenie Meyer and directed by Andrew Niccol (Gattica), The Host proved to be no Twilight as the film’s opening weekend couldn’t even match half of what one of the Bella flicks earned in its first two hours of release. Critics savaged the feature, which stars Saoirse Ronan, Diane Krueger, Max Irons and William Hurt. They gave the movie a toxic 11% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While the Twilight films never had any sort of critical backing, they did have the support of its fan base. The Host couldn’t even rely on that factor. Those who turned out gave the film a “B-” CinemaScore rating.

The remainder of the top ten was as follows:

7. The Call (Tri-Star) $4.92 million (-44%); $39.6 million

8. Admission (Focus Features) $3.2 million (-47%); $11.7 million

9. Spring Breakers (A24 Films) $2.7 million (-43%); $10 million

10. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (Warner Brothers) $1.3 million (-69%); $20.6 million

On Friday, the well-received remake of the 1983 classic Evil Dead and the 3D retrofit of the 1993 Steven Spielberg hit Jurassic Park arrive on the scene to take on G.I. Joe: Retaliation.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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