By Ronald Grover and Chris Michaud
LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK Jan 12 "Lone Survivor,"
the true story of a failed U.S. Navy SEALS mission to capture or
kill a Taliban leader in Afghanistan, collected $38.5 million in
U.S. and Canadian ticket sales, topping movie "Frozen" to win
the weekend box office race.
The film stars Mark Wahlberg as Marcus Luttrell, the only
one of four SEALS to return from the mission and who wrote the
2007 book on which the movie is based.
"Frozen," a Walt Disney Co animated film and last
week's box office winner, was second with ticket sales of $15.1
million from Friday through Sunday, according to estimates from
"The Wolf of Wall Street," a tale of greed starring Leonardo
DiCaprio, was third with $9 million, while this week's other new
major release, "The Legend of Hercules," starring fashion model
and actor Kellan Lutz, was just behind, selling $8.6 million in
"Hercules" was tied for fourth place with "American Hustle,"
an awards-season favorite directed by David O. Russell and
starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.
"Lone Survivor," directed and written by "Friday Nights
Lights" director Peter Berg, was the subject of a Hollywood
bidding war in 2007 won by Comcast Corp's Universal
Pictures. The movie cost $40 million to make, Universal said.
The heavily marketed film far exceeded industry projections
of about $23 million in domestic sales, including theaters in
the United States and Canada. It was the second biggest January
opening weekend ever, behind only "Cloverfield," which made $40
million, according to Rentrak.
"You can't make predictions on films like this," said Nikki
Rocco, Universal's president for domestic distribution, adding
"You just don't know how the public is going to embrace it."
But decent reviews along with what Rocco called "a
grassroots campaign to tell Americans that this is a story of
patriotism and heroism, and you're going to want to be a part of
the water cooler conversation about it on Monday," sent its box
office sales soaring.
The film received a 73 rating from aggregator website Rotten
Tomatoes. Audiences gave the film an A+ grade, according to
CinemaScore, which measures ticket buyer reactions.
"The Legend of Hercules," which was forecast to have ticket
sales of $8 million, is the first of two films based on the son
of the Greek god Zeus. The second "Hercules" stars professional
wrestler Dwayne Johnson, also known as "The Rock," and is
scheduled for release on July 25.
"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" was sixth with $8
million in ticket sales. After leading the domestic box office
during the last three weeks of 2013, the movie, the second of a
three-part adaption of J.R.R. Tolkien's 1937 novel, has hauled
in $242 million domestically and $809 million globally.
Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures released "Wolf of
Wall Street." Warner Bros, a unit of Time Warner Inc,
released "The Hobbit." Sony Corp's movie studio
distributed "American Hustle."