Ender’s Game topples Grandpa

Posted: November 8, 2013 at 2:17 a.m.

Ben Kingsley (left) and Asa Butterfield star in the sci-fi film Ender’s Game. It came in first at last weekend’s box office and made $27 million.

Ender’s Game, based on the science-fiction novel about a child warrior, topped ticket sales at U.S. and Canadian theaters last weekend, collecting $27 million for Lionsgate Entertainment Corp.

Last Vegas and Free Birds, also debuting, finished third and fourth, respectively, researcher Rentrak Corp. said.

Lionsgate, which has carved out a niche among younger viewers with hits including The Hunger Games and the Twilight films, is seeking to build another teen franchise with Ender’s Game. “The movie is likely to lose much of that audience next week when Walt Disney Co. premieres Thor: The Dark World,” said Gitesh Pandya, editor of Boxofficeguru.com.

Lionsgate spent about $110 million making Ender’s Game, according to a person with production knowledge. It was projected to generate $28 million the first weekend, according to researcher Box-Office.com.

The film stars Asa Butterfield as Ender Wiggin, a war games whiz who’s trained to battle aliens that are attacking Earth. Harrison Ford co-stars as his commander.

The movie, which also features Ben Kingsley, garnered a 65 percent rating by RottenTomatoes.com, which aggregates reviews.

In addition to Thor, set for wide release today, Ender’s Game faces competition for young audiences from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The second installment in that series from Lionsgate opens Nov. 22.

Last Vegas, which had sales of $16 million for CBS Films, stars Robert De Niro and Michael Douglas. It follows three 60-something friends who throw a bachelor party for their last single buddy, Billy, played by Douglas. The movie, which also stars Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline and Mary Steenburgen, got negative reviews.

The animated Free Birds from Relativity Media placed fourth with $15.8 million, according to Rentrak. Featuring the voices of Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson, Free Birds was projected to take in $17.5 million in its debut.

The movie, about two turkeys from opposite sides of the tracks who travel back in time to change the first Thanksgiving menu, suffered from poor reviews ahead of its opening, garnering a 22 percent rating on RottenTomatoes.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, a comedy from Paramount Pictures, fell to second with $20 million in sales after leading the film rankings the previous weekend. Starring Johnny Knoxville, the movie is the fourth since 2002 based on the Jackass MTV reality series.

Gravity, from Warner Bros., had $12.8 million in receipts for fifth place. The film, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, has collected almost $219 million domestically since its debut.

Films in limited release include Dallas Buyers Club, from NBC Universal’s Focus Features, starring Matthew McConaughey. The movie, a portrayal of AIDS activist Ron Woodroof, has garnered praise for McConaughey’s performance as the Texas rodeo rider who is diagnosed with the disease in the mid-1980s. It had sales of about $264,000 in nine theaters.

MovieStyle, Pages 38 on 11/08/2013