By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood February 8, 2014 at 1:33PM
Despite competition from the tape-delayed opening Olympics ceremony, box office was strong yesterday, with "The Lego Movie" (Warner Bros.) taking in a robust $17,140,000 ahead of what is likely to be a very strong matinee-fueled weekend, though not record-breaking for February (the best remains "The Passion of the Christ"). "Lego" looks to be among Warners' third recent #1 film to open to over $50 million --along with "Gravity" and "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"-- and will be the biggest opening of 2014 so far.
Coming in a distant second, around expectations, is George Clooney's "The Monuments Men" (Sony) at $7 million. This is actually by some distance the best first day gross for a film he directed (doubling the take for "The Ides of March"). With an all-star cast and heist theme, it is aimed more at a wider "Ocean's Eleven"/sequel audience, with its full weekend gross (likely around $20 million) a bit more than half of their initial takes. With a $70 million budget, this will need likely strong international response to be a success.
The third opening, "Vampire Academy" (Weinstein Company), only reached #5 for the day at $1,425,000, and will likely drop to a weak #7 for the full weekend. Falling to #3 after three weeks in first place, "Ride Along" (Universal) took in $2.6 million, only a 35% drop. This will top $100 million today. #4 "That Awkward Moment" (Focus) fell more than half to $1.7 million.
#6 "Frozen" (Buena Vista) and #7 "Lone Survivor" (Universal) both grossed about $1.4 million. Two Paramount releases, "Labor Day" and "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" came in #8 and 9, both just over $900,000. Sony's "American Hustle" was #10 for the day at $750,000, but is likely to be edged out this weekend by the just-behind "The Nut Job" (Open Road).
The total for Friday's top 10 was $35 million, up more than 50% from last year, putting 2014 at this early stage over 7% better than 2013 domestically -- although the bigger grossing international take has fallen so far this year.