LOS ANGELES •Audiences turned out in force to see Matt Damon in Jason Bourne, pushing the spy sequel to a US$60-million (S$80.3-million) debut.
The film marked his return to the action franchise after nine years, during which he repeatedly hinted that he might be done with his most popular role. But he and director Paul Greengrass returned to the series. That was good news for Universal.
As a sign of Damon's appeal, audience surveys reveal that the actor's presence above-the-title was the second most frequently cited reason for turning up to see Jason Bourne. The US$60 million collected over the weekend at North American theatres were about 50 per cent more than initial results for 2012's The Bourne Legacy, which starred Jeremy Renner as the spy Aaron Cross.
Still, the turnout for Jason Bourne was lighter than for Damon's previous two outings in the lead role. The Bourne Ultimatum arrived to about US$80 million in ticket sales in 2007, after accounting for inflation. The Bourne Supremacy had about US$67 million in 2004.
Overseas, Jason Bourne, which cost about US$120 million to make, collected an additional US$50.1 million, a strong result.
"It proves this is a franchise that's still viable and that it can continue if they want to keep making them," said Mr Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at ComScore. "Jason Bourne is the perfect title for this film because that's who everyone wanted to see return."
The weekend's other major new wide release managed a respectable debut. STX Entertainment's Bad Moms opened to a healthy US$23.4 million and a third-place finish. It stars Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn as women who reject the pressure to be perfect parents.
Paramount's Star Trek Beyond was second at the box office, taking in an estimated US$24 million for a two-week total of US$105.7 million.
NEW YORK TIMES, REUTERS