'Zootopia' is still king of the box office jungle, besting '10 Cloverfield Lane' and all other rivals

The animal kingdom continues to reign at the box office, as the animated film "Zootopia" easily beat out fresh competition to claim the No. 1 spot for the second weekend in a row.

The critically acclaimed film about an animal-ruled metropolis grossed a robust $50 million during its second weekend in release, according to an estimate from distributor Walt Disney Studios. The PG-rated picture saw its ticket sales drop only 33% this weekend, raising the film's total in the U.S. and Canada to $142.6 million.

Meanwhile, though it did not claim the top spot at the multiplex, "10 Cloverfield Lane" — the low-budget thriller produced by J.J. Abrams — got off to a respectable start. The film, which producer Paramount Pictures has described as a sort of "spiritual" sequel to 2008's found-footage hit "Cloverfield," opened with a healthy $25.2 million.

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The weekend's other big debut, the crude Sacha Baron Cohen comedy "The Brothers Grimsby," failed to attract moviegoers. The R-rated picture collected a dismal $3.2 million — by far the worst showing ever for Cohen at the box office. The movie is not resonating overseas either: Even though it is playing in 34 countries, including the comedian's native Britain, it has brought in only $11.2 million abroad.

"Zootopia," however, is faring well worldwide. The 3-D movie, which features the voices of Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman, has so far grossed $288.7 million internationally. It is performing particularly well in China and Russia, where it is the highest-grossing Disney Animation or Pixar release ever, not adjusting for inflation. "Zootopia," is playing in 45 countries, although it has yet to open in Brazil and Japan.

Back in the U.S., those who saw "10 Cloverfield Lane" this past weekend gave it mixed reviews. Though the film was beloved by critics, audiences gave it an average grade of B minus, according to market research firm CinemaScore. The movie attracted an older, male crowd: 60% of the audience was male, while 65% was 25 and older.

The film will likely be a win for Paramount, which spent just $15 million to produce it. "Cloverfield," which was directed by Abrams' longtime collaborator Matt Reeves, ended up grossing $170 million worldwide. Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a young woman trapped in an underground bunker, the new film was directed by newcomer Dan Trachtenberg.

Heading into the weekend, "The Brothers Grimsby" was already fighting against bad word-of-mouth. The movie has notched just a 38% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, though the scant few moviegoers who saw it this past weekend didn't seem to hate it, assigning the film an average grade of B plus.

The movie features Cohen as his latest wacky character, Nobby Butcher, a family man and soccer fan who unwittingly becomes a secret agent tasked with saving the world. After his rise to fame on "Da Ali G Show" in the early 2000s, Cohen became a box office sensation when "Borat" was released in 2006. That movie about a clueless reporter from Kazakhstan grossed more than $260 million worldwide, with the character's one-liners infiltrating popular culture.

But the actor's efforts since "Borat" have fallen flat. Both 2009's "Brüno" — a mockumentary about an Austrian fashionista — and 2012's "The Dictator" — about an outlandish North African ruler — brought in about $60 million stateside. After such a poor opening weekend, Sony Pictures will be lucky if "Grimsby" comes close to grossing that much domestically.

"It's certainly disappointing," admitted Rory Bruer, Sony's president of worldwide distribution. "I think for an American audience, the character may have been too hard to relate to on some level. But Sacha is so amazingly talented, and I think he will have many, many successes after this."

In more limited release, Focus Features launched its faith-based film "The Young Messiah" to a so-so $3.4 million. The film, which follows Jesus as a young man, played in fewer than 2,000 theaters and attracted an older crowd — 86% were over 25.

Playing in just 925 locations, meanwhile, Lionsgate's romantic comedy "The Perfect Match" grossed a respectable $4.2 million. The film, produced by Queen Latifah, stars former E! Entertainment News host Terrence Jenkins as a playboy who is trying to settle down.

amy.kaufman@latimes.com

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on March 14, 2016, in the Entertainment section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "BOX OFFICE - `Zootopia' still king of jungle - The animated film bests `10 Cloverfield Lane,' all other rivals to retain top spot." — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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