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Weekend Box Office: The Lego Movie Knocks the Blocks Off Competition

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By Chris Kavan - 02/09/14 at 06:41 PM CT

It was a big weekend for original films as an animated giant and an ensemble dream cast helped shape a monster box office. It also goes to show that shaking up traditional models (a family film? In February?), while unpredictable, can lead to some stunning results. Of course this means we're going to be getting a family film every February now (and, like horror films in January, will become tradition until is utterly fails). But that's what we have to look forward to - here's what happened over the weekend:

1) THE LEGO MOVIE

Going in to this weekend it was obvious The Lego Movie was going to have a huge opening. Reviews were very strong, audiences seemed interested and families had something new to look forward to. But the $69.1 million opening blew away even the most favorable predictions. That opening is only second to Passion of the Christ ($83.8 million) in terms of biggest February debuts. It's also one of the highest original animated movies (re: not a sequel or prequel) - ranking right up there with Up ($68.1 million), The Lorax ($70.2 million) and The Incredibles ($70.5 million). The popularity of the Lego brand has never been higher and the audience response (a strong "A" Cinemascore) means that this will stick around - to the tune of at least $200 million. The opening also represents the best yet for any 2014. A February opening for a family film was a bold move - but considering both The Nut Job and Frozen have been out for awhile, it was also a smart move. Expect this trend to continue as both 2015 and 2016 have animated family films on the agenda - whether they will be as successful remains to be seen.

2) THE MONUMENTS MEN

After getting a bit of savage treatment from critics, it was a bit of a question mark where the latest from director (and actor) George Clooney would fall. But audiences were a bit more forgiving as Monuments Men took in $22.7 million - easily topping Clooney's previous best opening of $10.47 million that The Ides of March brought in. With The Lego Movie pulling in families and the younger audience, Monuments Men brought in the older crowd with 75% of the audience being over 35 and also drawing in a slightly more female (52%) crowd. They awarded it an OK "B+" Cinemascore It's opening was also smack dab between Argo ($19.5 million) and Captain Phillps ($25.7 million) - both movies which went on to a $100 million plus final tally. Monuments Men faces an uphill battle to that mark - but it should at least be able to match its $70 million budget before it ends its run. While that is not spectacular, it has to been seen as a win against the current competition.

3) RIDE ALONG

After cruising to victory for the last three weeks, Ride Along dipped 22% and brought in $9.4 million - and helped it become the first film of 2014 to top the $100 million mark at $105.2 million. It should enjoy being the top dog while it can - as it should be topped next weekend by The Lego Movie. That's one movie (soon to be two) to top $100 million in 2014 - we'll see if 2014 can top the record 34 films to pass that mark last year. Ride Along still has plenty of juice in the tank, however, and it will top at least the $125 million mark.

4) FROZEN

Even with direct (and major) competition from The Lego Movie, Frozen only dipped a light 22.6% and brought in $6.9 million and giving it a new total of $368.7 million. As expected, the film finally topped Despicable Me 2 ($368.06 million) to become the highest-grossing animated film of 2013. It will be able to cross $375 million with little effort and, even tough it already has a home release date of March 18 - it could still cross the $400 million mark as it winds down.

5) THAT AWKWARD MOMENT

Even though it didn't have a monster opening, That Awkward Moment dropped just 36.6% - which is actually a really good hold for a film that drew on a primarily female audience. Still, the $5.54 million it brought in still only amounts to a $16.84 total (still double its $8 million budget). For a movie with a low budget (and light marketing effort) it's not a bad place to be. It should be able to top $25 million - and may even approach the $30 million mark - before it leaves the theaters.

Outside the top five: The YA curse continued at the box office as Vampire Academy become the latest in a long line (Mortal Instruments, The Host, Beautiful Creatures) of films to NOT become the next Twilight. At just $4.1 million (7th place) - the film was nearly as bad as The Seeker: The Dark is Rising ($3.7 million) in terms of disappointing openings. One would think all these disappointments would be a detriment to studios - but there are going to be at least a few more tries - Divergent being chief amongst them this year - so we'll see if the curse continues.

Next weekend we'll see if the rebooted RoboCop is going to turn out as bad as I think it looks. Other new entries include Kevin Hart back on the big screen with the comedy romance About Last Night, the romance drama Endless Love and the fantasy romance Winter's Tale... can you tell it's almost Valentine's Day yet?

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