That put Universal's sci-fi thriller -- written, produced and directed by Luc Besson -- on pace for a three-day total in the $45 million range, about $10 million over the pre-release projections of analysts and the studio. Paramount and MGM's "Hercules," directed by Brett Ratner, was second with $11 million Friday and is heading for a $30 million weekend, about $5 million ahead of projections.
Both were beating "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." Fox' sci-fi sequel, the top film at the box office for the past two weeks, brought in $4.7 million and should finish the weekend with around $16 million. Despite the strong performance by the two leaders, the overall weekend was pacing behind the comparable weekend last year, when "The Wolverine" dominated with a $53 million debut. That's not going to turn around the slump at the summer box office, which is down almost 20 percent from last year's record-breaker.
The weekend's other wide opener, the Michael Douglas-Diane Keaton romantic comedy "And So It Goes," opened on far fewer screens and wasn't connecting. It should make the top ten -- it was eighth Friday -- but may not hit $4 million. Distributor Clarius has it in 1,768 theaters, well below the 3,173 locations that "Lucy" is in, or the 3,595 of "Hercules."
"Lucy," which co-stars Morgan Freeman, looks like it will exceed its $40 million production budget in its first weekend. Profitability will be a trickier proposition for the $100 million "Hercules," which will need a strong overseas performance to get there. It's opening in 19 foreign markets this weekend and had taken in $11.5 million through Friday.
Both movies have decent critical notices, and are over 60 percent positive on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. First night audiences gave "Lucy," the tale of woman who gains super mental powers after accidentally ingesting a drug she's carrying for the mob, a so-so "C+" CinemaScore, while the PG-13 fantasy epic about the Greek hero rated a "B+."
"The Purge: Anarchy" predictably took a serious 74 percent drop from last week and was running fourth with $3.3 million Friday, so Universal's low-budget horror thriller is looking at a $10 million second weekend.
It was ahead of "Planes: Fire and Rescue" and "Sex Tape." Disney's animated family film is on pace for a $9 million second week after taking in $2.7 million Friday, well ahead of the R-rated Cameron Diaz-Jason Segel comedy, which is looking at soft $6 million second week after taking in $1.9 million Friday, a steep 66 percent drop.
"Transformers: Age of Extinction," "Tammy" and "22 Jump Street" rounded out the top ten and will all finish in the $4 million range for the three days. Paramount's Michael Bay toy-bot tale will cross $235 million domestically this weekend, while Warner Bros.' Melissa McCarthy comedy "Tammy" will top $78 million and "22 Jump Street" will pass $185 million for Sony.
There were several intriguing limited openings.
Roadside Attractions' "A Most Wanted Man," starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, got off to a solid start with roughly $718,000 from 363 locations and should top $2 million for the weekend.
Woody Allen's "Magic in the Moonlight" opened to $117,000 from 17 theaters in its first day for Sony Pictures Classics.
"The Fluffy Movie,"a comedy concert film starring stand-up star Gabriel Iglesias, brought in $513,000 from 432 locations for Open Road.