"Mr. Peabody & Sherman" is the winner of the race to the top spot of domestic box office this weekend that coincides with St. Patrick's Day. The family animated film rises one spot to the first place, knocking off "300: Rise of an Empire" and ultimately beating newcomer "Need for Speed".
Made on $145M budget, the Fox/DreamWorks movie that follows a brilliant talking dog and his human boy pal rules the holiday weekend with an estimated $21.2 million for a domestic total of $63.2 million. Overseas, the last week runner-up adds $15.3 million for an international gross of $148.8 million.
"If anything, this is exceeding" expectations, Fox's president of domestic distribution, Chris Aronson, commented to the Associated Press, noting strong word-of-mouth as the cause of the ticket sale hike. "It's a combination of likable characters and it's a nostalgia play for those who are familiar with the show."
Meanwhile, Rentrak senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian pointed out the St. Patrick's Day might give the movie an advantage of drawing family to watch the film. "The St. Patrick's Day effect could be at play here, where families had to exercise their options at the theater rather than the pub," he explained. "That may have paid off for 'Mr. Peabody'."
Former No. 1, "Rise of Empire", slips to the second position with an estimated $19.1 million. It adds $41.3 million from international market, pushing its foreign total to $158 million. Costing $110 million to produce, the sequel to 2007's "300" has so far grossed an approximately $78 million in the U.S. and $236.3 million worldwide.
The switcheroo between "Mr. Peabody" and "Rise of Empire" forces new actioner "Need for Speed" to settle at the third spot. The film that pitted Aaron Paul against Dominic Cooper in a drag race could only start with approximately $17.8 million in local market after initially winning a lap on Friday with $6.6 million.
Luckily, the $66M-budgeted movie redeems itself in foreign markets. Getting a B- grade from CinemaScore, the video game adaptation rakes in around $45.6 million from 40 territories, including a strong $21.2 million debut in China, for a worldwide cume of $63.4 million in its first week.
"It's a disappointing start on the domestic side, but to open to that number worldwide and nearly match the budget of the film is great. This was a very affordable movie and with many territories left to open, everyone will be just fine. We feel great about where we are," said Dave Hollis, distribution chief for Disney, which distributed the pic.
"The Single Moms Club" opened at No. 5 with an estimated $8.3 million, despite receiving an A- CinemaScore. It marks Tyler Perry's worst opening in his feature directing career behind "Daddy's Little Girls" that debuted with $11.2 million back in February 2007.
Another new release, "Veronica Mars", rounds up the top 10 with approximately $2 million. The TV series adaptation that brings the original crew including director Rob Thomas and cast members Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, and Ryan Hansen averaged $6,945 from each theater where it played.
Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel" made another impressive feat. After drawing $800,000 from four theaters and breaking record with an average $200,000 from each, it now takes in around $3.6 million from an expanded 66 theaters. Its location average is the best of the weekend by far ($55,152).