Sony’s “The Angry Birds Movie” opened with an estimated $39 million this weekend from 3,932 screens to take first place at the box office.
The animated adaptation of Rovio’s once-hot video-game app finished well ahead of Disney-Marvel’s returning hit, “Captain America: Civil War,” which came in second with $33.1 million from 4,226 theaters.
In third place was Universal’s “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising,” initially expected to be more of a contender, but fell short of expectations to debut with $21.8 million in domestic grosses.
“Birds” landed in the sweet spot of predictions, as analysts expected a $40 million opening, with the studio estimate set at $38 million. The $80 million budgeted film earned a weak Rotten Tomatoes score of 42 percent but a more promising B+ from theatergoers surveyed by CinemaScore.
“The team put together to make this movie resonates not just in the U.S. but also worldwide,” Sony’s head of worldwide distribution Rory Bruer told TheWrap on Sunday, noting the film has earned an estimated $150 million worldwide so far.
“Birds” was co-directed by Disney Animation veteran Clay Kaytis (“Frozen,” “Wreck-It Ralph,” more) and Feral Reilly, whose past credits include “Iron Giant” and “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.” David Maisel, who worked on the first two “Iron Man” films, “Thor,” and the first “Captain America” movie, served as executive producer.
“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” fell significantly short of expectations that had the R-rated comedy sequel pulling in roughly $36 million in domestic grosses from 3,384 screens– and making back its $35 million production budget.
“Civil War” had also been tracking at roughly $36 million for it third weekend, and came in under estimates. The movie’s cumulative domestic gross rose to $347.4 million.
Writer-director Shane Black‘s $50 million production, on which Warner Bros. had domestic rights, was likely boosted by its strong reviews — a 90 percent Rotten Tomatoes score. Though moviegoers seemed less enthused, giving a CinemaScore of B- that may hurt its long-term prospects.
The film revolves around two offbeat private eyes in 1970s Los Angeles tasked with following up on the apparent suicide of a fading porn star.
In the specialty box office, Sony Pictures Classics opened the romantic comedy Maggie’s Plan” in five theaters to a per screen average of $13,342. The film, about a married man (Ethan Hawke) who gets bounced around between his mistress (Greta Gerwig) and his wife (Julianne Moore), earned a solid 79 percent Rotten Tomatoes score.
“Birds” was ushered in by one of the largest marketing campaigns in Sony history, according to the studio, which launched nine months ahead of the film’s release date. “It was all hands on deck,” said Bruer.
Sony worked with Rovio to target its Angry Birds video game users base; it capitalized on deep partnerships with Facebook, Instagram and YouTube; and the studio sponsored community events in the U.S. Sony tied “Angry Birds” into many holidays and “zeitgeist moments” — also credited with making the animated feature’s first weekend in theaters a success.
The voice cast for “The Angry Birds Movie” features Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, Peter Dinklage, Kate McKinnon and Sean Penn. The film explores why the flightless creatures are so angry to begin with as green pigs invade their island.
The Top Five:
1. “The Angry Birds Movie” (Sony) — $39 million in Week 1 ($39 million total)
2. “Captain America: Civil War” (Disney) — $33.1 million in Week 3 ($347.4 million total)
3. “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” (Universal) — $21.8 million in Week 1 ($21.8 million total)
4. “The Nice Guys” (Warner Bros) — $11.3 million in Week 1 ($11.3 million total)
5. “The Jungle Book” (Disney) — $11 million in Week 6 ($327.5 million total)