Box Office: ‘Lego Movie’ builds for a monster $69.1 million weekend

Warner Bros. received an early Valentine’s Day present from moviegoers after “The Lego Movie” dominated at the box office. That’s because the stop-motion and CG animated comedy earned a jaw-dropping $69.1 million over the weekend.  Pre-release polling had “Lego” debuting with around $40 million. Instead, thanks to excellent word of mouth and strong reviews the Phil Lord and Christopher Miller directed movie has become the biggest opener of 2014 so far and the second largest February debut after “The Passion of the Christ’s” $83 million in 2004. With a four-day holiday weekend on the horizon and no new family targeted films until “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” on March 7, “The Lego Movie” could easily end up with over $275 million domestic when all is said and done.  Yes, “everything is awesome” for Warner Bros. today.

Surviving the “Lego” onslaught in second place was George Clooney’s “The Monuments Men.” Reviews weren’t as positive as distributor Sony Pictures would have liked, but the period adventure still pulled in an estimated $22.7 million thanks to the star power of Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray and the rest of a well-respected ensemble cast.  “Monuments” cost $70 million to shoot, but Sony recently sold off International rights to 20th Century Fox which means a tally close to $60 million will likely help “Monuments” eventually end up in the black.  The picture should actually perform better for Fox overseas.

“Ride Along” dropped to third, but Universal Pictures has to be thrilled it crossed the $100 million mark with another $9.3 million and $105.1 million to date. “Ride Along” is now Kevin Hart’s highest grossing hit to date and thanks to a low $25 million budget it should be a major profit center for Universal.

“Frozen” continued its amazing run in fourth with another $6.9 million and $368.6 million overall.  The best animated feature frontrunner has grossed over $913 million worldwide and has the $1 billion mark in its sights.

“That Awkward Moment” sheepishly fell to fifth with another $5.5 million and $16.8 million to date. The Film District, er, Focus Features release reputedly only cost $16 million, but it will have to turn a profit on DVD and VOD.

The Weinstein Company had moved the opening of “Vampire Academy” from Feb. 14 to a week earlier, but it didn’t help.  The comedy-thriller pulled in a terrible $4.1 million.  “VA” suffered from no real stars to sell and, apparently, no real laughs in its TV spots or trailers (a problem with the film overall it seems).

New movies opening over the next week include a Wednesday bow for “Robocop” and “About Last Night,” “Endless Love” and “Winter’s Tale” which will all battle for the Valentine’s Day audience on Friday.

Final box office numbers will be released on Monday.