Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’ Tops ‘Hercules’ with $44M at Box Office [Video]

Sci-fi thriller “Lucy” with Scarlett Johansson took in $44 million in North American movie theaters over the weekend.

Luc Besson’s “Lucy,” starring Scarlett Johansson as a woman who gains superpower after a massive dose of a brain-enhancing drug, topped the US box office at the weekend, collecting $44 million in ticket sales.

According to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations, the movie beat out another box office newcomer, “Hercules” which muscled its way to second place with $29 million.

Universal’s president of domestic distribution, Nikki Rocco, said audiences were attracted to the movie’s original story about the main character gaining superhuman powers by using more and more of her brain.

“Lucy” gives Ms. Johansson her best debut yet in a lead role. The opening-weekend audience was 50% female, and moviegoers gave the film a C+ grade, according to the CinemaScore market research firm.

“The main reasons for coming to see the film were the story, and then Scarlett,” Rocco said. “She’s very diversified in what she does. Luc brought out the best of her in this movie.”

The movie, from science-fiction director Luc Besson, prominently featured the actress in its marketing and benefited from a release-date change brought on by the delay of “Jupiter Ascending,” the space travel epic that was initially set to premiere this month until being pushed back to next February by Time Warner Inc. Warner Bros.

Paramount and MGM, which partnered on “Hercules”, have much more at stake financially since the movie cost at least $100 million to make and had hoped it would do more domestically.

However, the movie is making up ground overseas, where it took in $28.7 million over the weekend from its first territories, including a stunning $12 million in Russia, for a global debut of $57.7 million, writes the Hollywood Reporter.

Megan Colligan, Paramount’s head of domestic marketing and distribution, said Johnson once again proved his appeal as a global action star who fights bad guys with a “a wink and a smile.”

“He can be very serious and menacing and imposing, and he has this ability to melt it all away, which is why women show up for a movie like this,” Colligan said. “He has a lot of appeal for kids.”

Johnson, AKA the Rock, made a surprise appearance at Comic-Con on Thursday towards the end of the Paramount panel and told attendees he had booked out three theatres that would offer free previews that night on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Another film that opened in wide release over the weekend was the Rob Reiner-directed romantic comedy “And So It Goes,” starring Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton, which collected an estimated $4.6 million, according to distributor Clarius Entertainment.

“Boyhood,” a Richard Linklater film that tracks the life of a boy from age 5 to 18, gained traction in its third week of release by distributor IFC Films with $1.7 million from just 107 locations.

In other box-office news, “A Most Wanted Man,” distributed by Roadside Attractions and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his last roles filmed before his death in February, collected $2.7 million on only 361 screens.

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