“The Lego Movie,” the Warner Bros. animated film drawing on the Danish toymaker’s popular building bricks and mini figures, opened with $69.1 million in sales to grab the No. 1 spot in domestic cinemas this weekend.
“The Monuments Men,” about a World War II platoon rescuing art masterpieces from Nazi Germany, opened with $22.7 million in U.S. and Canadian cinemas to place second for Sony, Rentrak said in an emailed statement on Sunday. “Vampire Academy,” a film about half-human, half-vampire teens, generated $4.1 million in its debut for Weinstein Co., ranking seventh.
“The Lego Movie” gives Time Warner’s film studio its first No. 1 feature this year, and the best opening of any movie year to date. The picture has been buoyed by favorable reviews and was second only to 2010’s “Toy Story 3” in advance ticket sales for an animated movie on Fandango.com. The appeal to families and the international awareness of Lego make it likely Warner Bros. will build more films around it, according to Phil Contrino, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com.
“It will be a massive hit for Warner Bros.,” said Contrino. “It’s just grabbing families, 20-somethings and 30- somethings who grew up playing with Legos. I’d be very surprised if a sequel didn’t happen.”
“The Lego Movie” was directed by Chris Miller and Phil Lord, whose credits include the 2009 animated Sony hit “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.” It was produced in association with Lego, the Billund, Denmark-based manufacturer of the toy bricks, and Village Roadshow Pictures.
The movie had the largest opening so far this year, and biggest ever for a PG-rated film in February, according to Rentrak. After capitalizing on the “obviously well-known Lego brand” and a paucity of offerings for kids to generate much better-than-expected sales, the film may be now set up for a strong showing in future weeks thanks to the typical lack of competition during the season, said Paul Sweeney, an analyst with Bloomberg Industries.
“It’s the time of year where if something captures the imagination, it can really take off,” he said, adding that he also expected a sequel. “I’m sure the producers are extraordinarily happy.”
Featuring the voices of Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Chris Pratt, Morgan Freeman and Will Ferrell, the movie follows Emmet, a construction worker who happily lives in a conformist world until he discovers the evil Lord Business is trying to glue the universe together. Emmet’s life is upended when he is mistaken for the Special, a master builder who is expected to save the world.
The film features characters Lego has licensed from studios over the years to makes its toys, including Batman, Superman, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Han Solo from the “Star Wars” movies.
“The Lego Movie” garnered a 96 percent positive rating on review aggregator website RottenTomatoes.com. It cost $60 million to make, according to Box Office Mojo, and was projected to collect $53 million by BoxOffice.com. “Ride Along” previously had the top weekend of the year with domestic sales of $41.5 million, according to Box Office Mojo.
“‘The Lego Movie’ is strikingly, exhilaratingly, exhaustingly fresh. Not plastic at all,” wrote Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times.
As well as appealing to domestic audiences, “The Lego Movie” should prove a success with international moviegoers, said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak.
“Legos know no borders,” he said. “It’s not limited to any one territory. There’s just a great nostalgia for the product.”
“The Monuments Men,” directed, co-written and starring George Clooney, was projected to take in $20.5 million.
It follows a group of aging museum directors, curators and art historians in a race against time to rescue art trapped behind enemy lines as the German army is ordered to destroy everything amid the fall of the Third Reich.
It features an ensemble cast, with Matt Damon, Bill Murray and Cate Blanchett.
The movie cost $70 million to produce, according to Box Office Mojo, and garnered a 33 percent positive rating on RottenTomatoes.
“‘The Monuments Men’ talks a better game than it can deliver,” wrote Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times. “It can’t decide what kind of a film it wants to be and so ends up failing across a fairly wide spectrum.”
“Vampire Academy,” the third debut in wide release, stars Zoey Deutch as Rose Hathaway, a guardian of peaceful, mortal vampires called the Moroi. Rose’s legacy is to protect the Moroi from the bloodthirsty, immortal Strigoi vampires.
The film was projected to collect $6.6 million for Weinstein and garnered a 13 percent positive rating on RottenTomatoes.
Among returning films, “Ride Along,” the buddy movie with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, collected $9.4 million to place third for Comcast’s Universal Pictures.
“Frozen,” Walt Disney’s animated movie about two princesses in an icy world, collected $6.9 million to place fourth. It’s become one of Disney’s biggest pictures. As of Sunday, “Frozen” has collected $368.7 million domestically since its release on Nov. 22.
“Lone Survivor,” a military drama about Navy SEAL commandos starring Mark Wahlberg, collected $5.3 million to place sixth for Universal Pictures.