Godzilla crushes North America box office, sequel eyed


LOS ANGELES (AFP) - The latest remake of classic monster flick Godzilla stormed to the top of the North American box office in its opening weekend with a killer US$93.2 million (S$116 million), industry figures showed Monday.

The latest incarnation of the 1954 classic stars Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche, and continues the original's exploration of the threat of nuclear disasters.

The movie, in which the famous dinosaur-like behemoth does battle with two giant and long-dormant creatures which feed off radioactivity, pushed raunchy comedy Neighbors to a distant second place.

"This has a potential to be Warner's newest tentpole franchise," said Jeff Bock of box office trackers Exhibitor Relations, using industry-speak for mega-budget blockbuster movies, crucial to studios' financial success.

Warner Bros, which could use a new dependable franchise after the end of the Harry Potter series, is already working on a sequel to Godzilla, according to industry journal Variety, which said the film made nearly US$200 million globally this weekend.

Jon Jashni, head and chief creative officer of Legendary Pictures, the production company which works with Warner Bros, said the smash box office debut was important.

"It's very validating," he told Variety. "You can't ask for a better situation when you have a group of people who were perhaps expecting to be let down, were impressed," Jashni added.

"It all lines up when that eco-system aligns and starts feeding off itself." Universal Pictures' Neighbors, starring Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne as new parents who find themselves living next door to a raucous fraternity house, earned US$25.1 million from Friday to Sunday, according to Exhibitor Relations.

In third place, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the sequel featuring Andrew Garfield, took in US$16.8 million for a total of US$172 million in the three weeks since its release.

Another newcomer, Million Dollar Arm, finished in the fourth spot. The film starring Jon Hamm, a true story about a Major League Baseball agent who goes to India to find the next big thing among cricket players, had ticket sales worth US$10.5 million.

Down to fifth, The Other Woman, a romantic comedy starring Cameron Diaz, earned US$6.3 million.

In sixth place was Heaven Is for Real, starring Greg Kinnear as the father of a four-year-old boy who wakes up from emergency surgery with a story about going to heaven and back. It pulled in US$4.4 million.

Seventh was animated flick Rio 2, at just over US$3.7 million. It just barely overtook Captain America: The Winter Soldier, at nearly US$3.7 million.

Rounding out the top ten were Legends of Oz, pulling in just under US$2 million, followed by PG-rated comedy Moms' Night Out, with US$1.8 million.

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