‘No Good Deed’ Blows Out ‘Dolphin Tale 2’ at Box Office (Video)

African-American audiences drive Idris Elba-Taraji Henson thriller past family sequel for $24 million victory

The home invasion thriller “No Good Deed” turned what was expected to be a close race with the family film “Dolphin Tale 2” into a blowout, claiming the weekend box office crown with an estimated $24.5 million.

Both openers were aimed at audiences that have been under-served at the multiplexes recently. Sony Screen Gems’ “No Good Deed” targeted African Americans and Warner Bros.’ “Dolphin Tale 2” went after kids and their parents, and the thriller starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson was the one that really connected.

“Dolphin Tale 2” brought in $16.5 million over the three days. That’s less than the $19 million that the original managed in September of 2011 and the $20 million that the analysts had projected. “No Good Dead” nearly doubled its production budget over the weekend and gave Will Packer, who produced with Lee Clay,  his third No. 1 movie of the year, following “Ride Along” and “Think Like a Man Too.”

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Both of those films topped the  $8 million of the blockbuster “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which fell out of the top spot for the first time in three weeks. Disney’s Marvel superhero space romp, summer’s biggest hit, is still going strong. Its seventh weekend total was off just 24 percent from last weekend and it crossed the $300 million mark both domestically and overseas this weekend. “Guardians” has now grossed more than $612 million at the worldwide box office since opening on Aug. 1.

The weekend’s other wide opener, Chernin Entertainment’s “The Drop,” showed more muscle than expected. The crime drama starring the late James Gandolfini, Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace, brought in $4.2 million from just 809 theaters for distributor Fox Searchlight. It was in sixth place, behind holdovers “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Let’s Be Cops.”

The audience for the PG-13-rated “No Good Deed” was 70 percent African-Anerican, 60 percent female and 41 percent under the age of 30. They gave the thriller directed by Sam Miller a “B+” CinemaScore, considerably better than the critics, who have it at just 12 percent positive on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.

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The studio has connected with similar films in the past. The Halle Berry thriller “The Call” opened to $17 million last year and “Obsessed,” which starred Elba and Beyonce, opened to $28 million back in 2009. “Think Like a Man Too,” in which Henson also appeared, opened to $29 million in June.

“Dolphin Tale 2” received an “A” CinemaScore from audiences, which were 63 percent female and a surprising 56 percent over the age of 25. The studio is hoping that and solid reviews (73 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes) will help it show staying power over the next couple of weeks, when it still has the family market largely to itself. Harry Connick Jr., Ashley JuddMorgan Freeman and Kris Kristofferson returned for the sequel, which like the first film was written and directed by Charles Martin Smith.

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Let’s Be Cops” were fifth and sixth came with $4.8 million and $4.3 million respectively. Paramount’s kids film is up to $181 million domestically after six weeks, while the R-rated comedy has totaled $73 million after five weeks for Fox.

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Warner Bros.’ teen tearjerker “If I Stay” was seventh and took in $4 million for the weekend, which put its domestic haul at roughly $45 million after four weeks.

“The November Man,” “The Giver” and “The Hundred-Foot Journey” rounded out the top ten. The Weinstein Company’s “The Giver” is at $41 million in its fifth week, while Disney’s foodie tale is nearing $50 million in its sixth week.

Even with the new openers, the overall box office couldn’t shake its September slump and was down roughly 13 percent from the same frame last year when “Insidious Chapter 2” was No. 1 with $40 million.