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'How to Train Your Dragon' tops Oscar weekend at the box office

2019-02-25 21:00
A scene in the film How to Train Your Dragon: The

Los Angeles — How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World breathed some fire into a slumping box office with a franchise-best $55.5m debut over Oscar weekend.

Writer-director Dean DeBlois' third and supposedly final instalment in the How to Train Your Dragon series notched the best opening of the year in U.S. and Canadian theatres.

Going into the weekend, overall ticket sales for 2019 were down 18 percent, according to Comscore, throwing cold water on the record box office of 2018.

But as Hollywood was set to gather for the Academy Awards on Sunday, The Hidden World lent the industry some good news — albeit not a hint at all of the magnitude of what that was in theatres last Oscar weekend when Black Panther was the top film.

Made for $129m, The Hidden World rode good reviews (91 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and warm audience reaction (an A CinemaScore) to exceed the $43.7m opening of the 2010 original (which ultimately made $494.9m worldwide) and the $49m opening of the 2014 sequel (which amassed $621.5m).

The latest instalment, which similarly features the voices of Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera and Cate Blanchett, is the first DreamWorks Animation release under the Comcast-owned Universal, which bought Jeffrey Katzenberg's company in 2016.

Universal trotted out The Hidden World abroad first. It's been in release internationally since January, earning $216.9m through Sunday.

Last week's top film, Alita: Battle Angel, dropped steeply in its second weekend with $12m. That's a slide of 58 percent, and further trouble for the 20th Century Fox release from producer James Cameron and director Robert Rodriguez. The sci-fi film cost a hefty $170m to make.

But Alita is doing better overseas. It grossed $92.4m internationally over the weekend, boosted by Fox's biggest opening ever in China. It was the no. 1 film there with $62.3m in ticket sales.

MGM's Fighting With My Family, about professional wrestling star Saraya "Paige" Bevis, was the only other new film in wide release. It expanded to 2 711 theatres after a limited release last weekend, grossing a modest $8m.

Directed by Stephen Merchant, Fighting With My Family stars Florence Pugh as Bevis and features a cameo supporting performance from Dwayne Johnson, an executive producer on the film. With an $11m budget, it's a far smaller film than Johnson is typically a part of.

There was little of an Oscar bump for the Academy Awards nominees heading into Sunday's show. Alfonso Cuaron's "Roma" is tied for the most nominations with 10 but, as a Netflix release, it has been mostly streamed. Netflix has declined to give box-office figures for its theatrical release. The major theater operators have refused to screen Netflix films since they don't adhere to the traditional 90-day theatrical exclusivity window.

Read more on:    box office  |  movies

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