The Will Smith romantic caper "Focus" opened at No. 1, kicking "Fifty Shades of Grey" out of the top spot over the weekend but still falling short of box office projections.
"Unfortunately, snow just beat us up in a big way, especially in the South," said Jeff Goldstein, executive vice president and general sales manager for Warner Bros., which released "Focus." The film is estimated to have made $19.1 million in the U.S. and Canada through Sunday.
"Absent that tough weather," Goldstein said, "we would have ended up over $20 million."
The film, which cost about $50 million to make, fared well enough among moviegoers to earn a B-minus grade from audience polling firm CinemaScore. The majority of audiences were female (53%) and older than 25 (88%). Critics gave the film a 56% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
"Given the mid-range budget, the film's result is right on target," Goldstein said.
"Focus" follows con artist Nicky (Smith), who trains and eventually falls for Jess (Margot Robbie). Three years after they break up, the duo reunite in Buenos Aires, where both have come to con the same billionaire.
It marks Smith's return to the big screen after "After Earth" flopped in June 2013. The $135-million Sony sci-fi flick, which co-starred Smith's son Jaden, opened to just $27 million.
Meanwhile this weekend, "Kingsman: The Secret Service" and "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water" held steady in the top three.
"Kingsman," released by Twentieth Century Fox, added about $11.8 million, bringing its total domestic haul to about $85.7 million.
Based on a comic book, the "Kingsman" film follows a street kid (Taron Egerton) whom Harry Hart (Colin Firth) recruits into a secret spy organization. Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Caine also star.
"The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water," which made $11.2 million over the weekend, has benefited from being the only major family film in the market. Since opening in February, the film has made $140.3 million in the U.S. and Canada.
"Fifty Shades of Grey" dropped 51% from last week, sending it from first to fourth place. It added $10.9 million to its $147.8-million domestic haul.
Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and based on E.L. James' erotic novel, the Universal Pictures film follows kinky billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and his love interest Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson).
The film has maintained its momentum overseas, however, where it's No. 1 for the third weekend in a row, distributor Universal said. Its international cumulative total is $338.4 million, and Universal projects the film will cross the $500-million mark worldwide in the coming week.
"The Lazarus Effect" launched this weekend with $10.6 million, good for fifth place. The low-budget horror film was co-produced by Blumhouse, the company behind the "Purge" franchise, and Mosaic, for just $5 million. Relativity Studios acquired it for $3.3 million.
The film follows a group of researchers led by Frank (Mark Duplass) and fiancee Zoe (Olivia Wilde) who discovers how to bring the dead back to life.
About 52% of moviegoers were female, and 60% were 25 and younger. The film earned a B-minus grade on CinemaScore and 14% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Meanwhile, fresh off Oscars wins, "Still Alice" and "Birdman" climbed at the box office.
Sony Picture Classics' "Still Alice," for which Julianne Moore took home an Oscar for best actress, was up 24% from last weekend. The film came in ninth at the box office on a weekend gross of about $2.7 million. It has made almost $12 million to date in the U.S. and Canada.
The film, written and directed by Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer, co-stars Alec Baldwin and Kristen Stewart. Moore plays Alice, a professor grappling with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Fox Searchlight expanded "Birdman" into hundreds of additional theaters after the film won four Oscars, including best picture. It came in at No. 12 for the weekend on a gross of nearly $2 million, soaring 125% from the previous weekend. The film has made $40.3 million in the U.S. and Canada.
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