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Weekend Box Office: Non-Stop Tops Son of God as Lego Movie Finally Gives Up Crown

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By Chris Kavan - 03/03/14 at 12:43 AM CT

It was a one-two punch as an action icon and religious experience took down the Lego Movie over the Oscar weekend. And 2014 continued to improve over last year, as the box office ran over $15 million ahead of the same frame last year. Thanks to the Academy Awards, almost all the best picture nominees got an appreciative bump while the other animated juggernaut from last year crossed a major milestone. It was a busy week for movies - that's for sure - and the box office is no exception.

1) NON-STOP

Liam Neeson has had a nice reinvention as an action star. Non-Stop opened at the top of heap with $30 million. That's a step up from recent Neeson films Unknown ($21.9 million) and The Grey ($19.7 million). It is also in line with recent action films Olympus Has Fallen ($30.4) and Inside Man ($29 million). It also was a hit with audiences, which gave it an "A-" Cinemascore - the audience was nearly balanced between men and women, though it did draw an older (65% over 25) crowd. Even with competition, the film will have no problem making back its $50 million budget - and should top $75 million before it is done. The movie did a good job marketing and is the third original (as in not a sequel or reboot) for Universal Pictures to open in the top spot this year (following Lone Survivor and Ride Along).

2) SON OF GOD

Despite being essentially an edited version of the History Channel's mini-series The Bible, it turns out audiences are more than willing to watch a new cut in a darkened theater with like-minded people. Son of God opened to a strong $26.5 million. There isn't a lot to compare Son of God to - other than the behemoth that was Passion of the Christ. It did open well above such Christian-themed films Courageous ($9.1 million), The Nativity Story ($7.8 million) and Fireproof ($6.8 million). It also scored an "A-" Cinemascore from audiences (and also drew a mostly older crowd - 82% over 25) but it's hard to predict whether it is going to have a long shelf life or whether the audiences all came out over opening weekend. We'll know a lot more about its chances next weekend. It certainly did a whole lot better than I expected.

3) THE LEGO MOVIE

The awesome movie that has been dominating the box office had to settle for third place this weekend. Don't feel too bad, the $21.01 million it brought in was enough to make it the first film of 2014 to cross the $200 million mark, and it now stands at $209.32 million. It dropped about 33% from last weekend - but though it is slowing, all signs point to it still having plenty of life. Granted, it faces direct competition from Mr. Peabody & Sherman next weekend, but if it can weather that storm, it should top $275 million - and maybe even reach $300 million. Time will tell - but off a $60 million budget, one has to think this is going to be one of the most successful films of the year.

4) THE MONUMENTS MEN

George Clooney's historical art epic jumped from 5th to 4th place (even though it bled off about 37% of its audience) and took in $5 million to raise its total to $65.69 million - closing in on its $70 million budget. It has performed steadily over its four weeks and is proving to have some nice legs as audience support has been much better than critical response.



5) 3 DAYS TO KILL

It wasn't such good news for last week's new entries. Dropping a whopping 60%, 3 Days to Kill was barely able to top Pompeii (which dropped over 58% on its own) to take in $4.9 million and give it a new total of $20.7 million. Kevin Costner is no Liam Neeson and chances are the film barely breaks even - and with a budget of $28 million, that's not exactly an impressive statistic. But it's going to at least turn out better than Pompeii, whose current $17.74 million looks pathetic next to its $100 million budget.

Outside the top 10: Disney can put another feather in its animated cap as Frozen (8th place with $3.6 million) crossed the $1 billion global mark. It's only the 18th film to reach that mark - and only 5th that is considered an "original" (non-sequel or reboot) to do that. The film still has to open in Japan and once it finishes, chances are it will be one of the 10 highest grossing films of all time.

With the Oscars arriving, plenty of films saw a bump - including American Hustle, which is closing in on the $150 million mark - the $1.9 million it brought in (rising from the 12th to 11th spot) gives it a $146.71 million total. It's hard to say whether it will ultimately cross the mark, seeing as it didn't walk away with any prizes from the big night.

12 Years a Slave, which wound up getting the coveted Best Picture statue, crossed the $50 million mark taking in $900,000 in 18th place. We'll see if it gets any kind of bump (chances are its DVD/Blu-Ray sales will be excellent when it comes out on Tuesday).

Next week gives us 300: Rise of an Empire, Wes Anderson's latest Grand Budapest Hotel and the animated Mr. Peabody & Sherman. We'll see if Non-Stop can be stopped after just a single week.

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