By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood February 23, 2014 at 1:36PM
"The Lego Movie" (Warner Bros.) continued its amazing run with a third weekend at #1 and shows no sign of weakening. The movie elevated the weekend's Top Ten total to $94 million, significantly down from last week's holiday numbers, but still $10 million above the same time last year. 2014 to date remains 9 % ahead of 2013.
New openers "3 Days to Kill" (Relativity) and "Pompeii" (Sony) showed only modest interest, while last week's four new films dropped sharply, with only "Robocop" (Sony) showing signs of longevity.
All this comes a week before the Oscars. With quite a few of the leading nominees still around, their total gross came to under $7 million, meaning that fewer than one million ticket buyers bothered to catch up with on the pre-Oscar weekend.
1. The Lego Movie (Warner Bros.) Week 3 - Last weekend #1
$31,450,000 (-37%) in 3,980 theaters (+115); PSA (per screen average): $8,085; Cumulative: $183,160,000
These numbers are impressive on two levels -- the total gross for a third weekend, but also the modest fall from last weekend's holiday-inflated three-day numbers. And add this to the mix -- this gross, 17 days into the run, is bigger than the final gross of any January or February release over the last decade. Like Warner Bros.' October release "Gravity," now at over $900 million worldwide, this movie expands the calendar for blockbusters beyond the narrow summer and year-end pockets when the studios usually book their tentpoles.
What comes next: The already-confirmed sequel though is set for prime time--May 2017. Meanwhile, this will set the early benchmark for 2014 smashes.
2. 3 Days to Kill (Relativity) NEW - Cinemascore: B; Criticwire: C; Metacritic: 39
$12,300,000 in 2,872 theaters; PSA: $4,283; Cumulative: $12,300,000
This French co-production comes from EuropaCorp, producer Luc Besson's company, which previously partnered with American studios for the "Transporter" and "Taken" series. This familiar variation on surprise success "Taken" (which opened to over $24 million in 2009 on its way to $145 million domestic) puts an established American star (Kevin Costner) in a European action plot involving danger to his child (Haillie Steinfeld). Co-produced with Ryan Kavanaugh's Relativity for a thrifty $28 million, this will need to rely on later foreign dates to become a success.
Unlike "Taken," an American director is at the helm: McG, whose top grossers both hit $125 million: "Terminator Salvation" and "Charlie's Angels" and lowest performer to date is "We Are Marshall" ($43 million). For Costner, 59, this is a return to leading man status after his big TV success with "The Hatfield and the McCoys." His last top-billed role was 2008's "Swing Vote." Though nothing special, it's his biggest opening as a leading man since 2006's "The Guardian" (he took juicy supporting roles in "Man of Steel" and "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit").
What comes next: Unless foreign takes off, this doesn't look like it will follow "Taken" and "Transporter" into sequel mode.
3. Pompeii (Sony) NEW - Cinemascore: B; Criticwire: C-; Metacritic: 39
$10,000,000 in 2,658 theaters; PSA: $3,766; Cumulative: $10,000,000
What hath "Game of Thrones," "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" and "Rome" wrought? So far this year, both "The Legend of Hercules" and now "Pompeii" have tried to replicate their success. Neither has made much of a mark, perhaps because their PG13 rating lacks the sex and violence of their cable counterparts, with costly 3D and VFX not sufficient replacements.
"Pompeii" at least outdrew "Hercules" (by a bit more than $1 million). This German (Constantin Films) production cost $80 million, with Sony serving as U.S. distributor (one of a whopping five films in current first-run release) and FilmDistrict (with whom they have previously partnered, now part of Universal) providing the P&A funds. Through different distributors, it took in at least $22.8 million from 37 territories, suggesting that it will turn out OK overseas despite its weak domestic numbers.
Director Paul W.S. Anderson has provided reliable genre films going back to "Mortal Kombat," more recently the "Resident Evil" series from Sony's Screen Gems unit. His lower-budget films usually fare better, although his recent 3D "Three Musketeers" opened even lower. Young lead actor Kit Harington is best known from "Game of Thrones," though he did star in "Silent Hill: Revelation."
What comes next: Unlike the title city, this will soon be forgotten.