“No Good Deed” swam past “Dolphin Tale 2” this weekend, as both films gave the box office a much-needed boost after a summer slump.
Director Sam Miller’s “No Good Deed” finished the weekend on top with an estimated $24.5 million in ticket sales in the United States and Canada, with the aquatic family favorite at No. 2 with $16.5 million.
Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” added $8 million to its gross in the U.S. and Canada and became the first film of 2014 to reach the $300-million milestone. After its seventh weekend, the film has grossed about $305.9 million in the U.S. and Canada, bringing its worldwide total to $612 million.
Sony Pictures’ Screen Gems label had predicted “No Good Deed,” which cost a modest $13.2 million to make, would gross in the mid-to-high teens.
“We really believed the film would succeed … and it did, in a big way,” said Rory Bruer, distribution president for Sony Pictures.
The film follows Colin (Idris Elba), an escaped convict who invades the home of wife and mother Terri (Taraji P. Henson).
Part of the film’s success can be attributed to its social media buzz. Leading up to the release, Sony Pictures and Screen Gems launched a social media campaign, inviting fans to play a Twitter game called #TweetToEscape.
“You’re home alone. Watch the video and choose your path,” reads the first tweet of the game.
Bruer said the marketing team “just hit it out of the park.”
“There’s no doubt about it that the social media team kept the suspense going and got everyone to become active participants,” he said.
Elba, known for his roles in “Pacific Rim” and “Thor,” was also a lure for moviegoers. The English actor co-starred in another Screen Gems thriller, “Obsessed,” which opened to about $28 million in 2009.
Leading up to the film’s release, some noted the timing: Last week, TMZ released a video of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice assaulting his then-fiancée in an elevator. The scandal resulted in Rice’s suspension and began a national dialogue about violence against women.
Despite the controversy, Bruer said the studio was not worried about the timing of “No Good Deed.”
“From our point of view we just had a terrific thriller that we thought audiences would relate to and they did,” he said.
About 41% of the film’s audience was younger than 30 and 60% was female, according to Bruer. The film was especially successful in big cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago and Atlanta.
The film was not screened in advance for critics -- usually a sign that the studio is not confident in the product. Bruer said the studio did not want to reveal any plot twists.
The film received a B+ grade from audience polling firm CinemaScore. As of Sunday, it had notched a 12% positive rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
Meanwhile, family audiences turned out for Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros.' “Dolphin Tale 2.” The sequel, which stars Ashely Judd and Morgan Freeman, continues the story of Winter, the rehabilitated dolphin who was rescued by Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida.
The film didn’t make as large of a box office splash as its predecessor, which opened at $19.2 million. “Dolphin Tale” was a surprise hit when it dived into theaters in 2011, grossing $72.3 million in the U.S. and Canada.
The sequel, which cost about $36 million to make, received an A grade from CinemaScore. As of Sunday, it boasted a 73% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Paramount Pictures’ “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” held steady at No. 4, grossing $4.8 million this weekend. After its sixth weekend at the box office, the film has grossed about $181 million in the U.S. and Canada.
Twentieth Century Fox’s comedy “Let’s Be Cops” took fifth, adding $4.3 million to its domestic gross. To date, the film, which was released on Aug. 13, has grossed about $73 million in the U.S. and Canada.
In limited release, Fox Searchlight’s “The Drop” exceeded the studio’s $2 million forecast and grossed a solid $4.2 million.
The Chernin Entertainment-produced film, which stars Tom Hardy and the late James Gandolfini, follows organized crime’s use of local New York City bars as money-laundering drops.
FOR THE RECORD
An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified “Let’s Be Cops” as a Fox Searchlight film. It is a 20th Century Fox film.
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