‘Lego Movie’ knocks down box-office newcomers; Kevin Hart scores again

A scene from "The Lego Movie."
A scene from “The Lego Movie.”
(Warner Bros.)

“The Lego Movie” built upon its success this holiday weekend, beating out four new movies to secure the No. 1 spot at the box office for the second time.

After posting a surprisingly strong debut, the animated 3-D film collected an additional $63.5 million between Valentine’s Day and President’s Day, according to an estimate from distributor Warner Bros. After 11 days in release, the movie featuring characters from the famed toy brand has already grossed $143.8 million domestically, indicating that the film will likely have enough stamina to rake in at least an additional $100 million before exiting theaters.

Among the newcomers -- a batch that included three remakes of 1980s films -- the big winner was “About Last Night,” an inexpensive romantic comedy featuring Kevin Hart. The film, whose original 1986 incarnation starred Rob Lowe and Demi Moore, brought in a robust $28.5 million during its first four days in cinemas.

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Meanwhile, “RoboCop,” a new spin on the popular 1987 sci-fi flick, came in third place with $25.6 million -- a somewhat disappointing start, given it cost so much more to produce than its rivals. “Endless Love,” a fresh take on Franco Zeffirelli’s 1981 version starring Brooke Shields, opened with a so-so $15.1 million. The only new movie that wasn’t a remake, the time-travel Colin Farrell fantasy “Winter’s Tale,” was the least popular Valentine’s Day option, flopping with a dismal $8.1 million.

“About Last Night” is yet another win for Hart, 34, who is parlaying his success as a stand-up comedian into a film career. In January, his buddy-cop comedy “Ride Along” had the biggest opening of the month, and the film has since gone on to collect $117.4 million.

“You can’t find an actor in Hollywood who works harder than Kevin,” said Rory Bruer, distribution president for Sony Pictures, whose Screen Gems label produced Hart’s new movie for $13 million. “He’s a nice guy -- the kind you want to hang and have a beer with -- and I think people get that. There’s a lot of love out there for him right now.”

In “About Last Night,” he plays an eccentric bachelor who isn’t ready to settle down, unlike his best friend (Michael Ealy), who quickly moves in with a new girlfriend (Joy Bryant). Of the weekend’s debuts, the film earned the best critical reviews by far, notching a 77% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. (For comparison’s sake, “RoboCop” came in at 49%, “Winter’s Tale” at 15% and “Endless Love” at 14%.)

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Those who saw the film this weekend -- a slightly more female crowd, 57% of whom were over the age of 30 -- liked it, assigning the picture an average grade of A-, according to market research firm CinemaScore.

Not surprisingly, more men turned up for “RoboCop” than any of the weekend’s other new offerings. The movie attracted a 62% male crowd, who gave the film an average grade of B+. Word of mouth will need to be exceptionally strong if the pricey film -- which cost MGM and Sony’s Columbia Pictures about $120 million to produce -- is to be a hit in the U.S. and Canada.

Abroad, however, “RoboCop” is faring well with audiences. Since opening in a few foreign markets last weekend, the film has expanded to 75 countries and has now grossed a total of $69.9 million. So far, the movie is performing best in Britain, Russia, and Malaysia, where it has grossed $5.3 million and been No. 1 for three consecutive weeks.

Directed by Brazilian filmmaker Jose Padilha, “RoboCop” marks the first leading role for Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman, best known for his part in AMC’s “The Killing.” In the film, set in 2028, Kinnaman plays the part-man/part-machine -- a Detroit cop whose technology a major corporation wants to employ to enforce the law.

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“Endless Love” also features relatively unknown actors -- British model-turned-actress Gabriella Wilde and Alex Pettyfer, best known for his role in the stripper flick “Magic Mike.” The movie, which follows a young couple being kept apart by disapproving parents, was overwhelmingly popular with young females this weekend. About 76% of the “Endless Love” crowd was under the age of 25, and that audience liked what they saw, giving the film an average grade of A-.

Though the romance didn’t get off to a particularly impressive start, it didn’t cost distributor Universal Pictures much to make either. The studio financed the picture for $20 million.

In worse shape is “Winter’s Tale,” which even Warner Bros. executives admitted failed to connect with moviegoers this weekend.

“It was just a miss, unfortunately,” acknowledged Jeff Goldstein, the studio’s executive vice president of domestic distribution.

Based on Mark Helprin’s 1983 novel, “Winter’s Tale” was the directorial debut for Akiva Goldsman, a well-known producer and screenwriter who has worked on such hits as “Hancock” and “A Beautiful Mind.” The supernatural-tinged story stars Colin Farrell as a time-traveling thief who goes to extreme lengths in an attempt to save his dying soulmate.

“Winter’s Tale,” financed by Warner Bros., RatPac-Dune Entertainment and Village Roadshow for $35 million, is the latest misfire for Farell. The actor, 37, has appeared in a string of high-profile box-office flops in the last five years, including “Total Recall” and “Fright Night.”

“In fairness,” Goldstein added, “It’s not just him. There was just something about this movie that didn’t work. We tried hard to hit an audience that wasn’t interested.”


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