Noah, the epic starring Russell Crowe, topped the box office in its debut last weekend, collecting $43.7 million for Paramount.
Noah outsold Divergent, the returning movie from Lionsgate about teen warriors, which collected $25.6 million to place second in U.S. and Canadian theaters, Rentrak Corp. said. Noah was projected to garner $41 million, according to BoxOffice.com.
Noah, which cost $125 million to make, according to Box Office Mojo, follows the success of Son of God, a smaller, religious-themed production, which raised $25.6 million in its February debut. The new movie won points with critics for its visual effects while receiving some criticism for the artistic license taken with the biblical story.
Crowe has the leading role as the man chosen by God to undertake a rescue mission before an apocalyptic flood destroys the world. Anthony Hopkins stars as Noah’s grandfather, Methuselah, and Jennifer Connelly plays his wife, Naameh. Ray Winstone and Emma Watson also are featured.
“Noah is less an epic than a horror movie,” wrote A.O. Scott in The New York Times. “There are some big, noisy battle scenes and some whiz-bang computer-generated images, but the dominant moods are claustrophobia and incipient panic.”
The film has garnered strong critical reviews, registering a 76 percent positive rating on review aggregator website Rottentomatoes.com.
The movie was directed by Darren Aronofsky, who helmed the 1998 science-fiction thriller Pi and the 2010 drama Black Swan.
Of the nearly $44 million weekend box-office sales generated from 3,567 screens, $1.6 million came from March 27 preview shows, according to Paramount.
Ahead of its domestic release, Noah earned $22 million from international sales, according to Box Office Mojo. So far the film has generated $51.1 million internationally, including the biggest opening weekend in Russia ever for Paramount, according to the studio.
The film faced little competition from new movies. Sabotage, an action thriller from Open Road Films, was the other title to open in wide release. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, the movie follows members of an elite Drug Enforcement Administration task force who are taken down one by one after they rob a drug cartel safe house. It had a disappointing opening, taking in $5.2 million to place seventh. With a 22 percent rating on Rottentomatoes.com, it was projected to take in $7 million.
Divergent, the first film in a new young-adult franchise from Lionsgate, in two weeks has had sales of $94 million for the studio, which was also behind the Twilight and The Hunger Games movies.
Muppets Most Wanted, another holdover and the follow-up to the 2011 film, collected $11.2 million to place third for Walt Disney Co.
Cesar Chavez, a bio-pic of the civil-rights activist and labor organizer, opened in limited release with $2.8 million in receipts and placed 12th for Lionsgate.
Separately, Disney and Rentrak said Frozen (at No. 17) became the highest-grossing animated film ever with $1.07 billion in worldwide sales. The picture, which won two Academy Awards, is the studio’s seventh billion-dollar release.
MovieStyle, Pages 34 on 04/04/2014
Print Headline: Noah epic reigns at box office