“Exodus: Gods and Kings” is ruler of the box office despite its less-than-inspirational ticket sales.
Ridley Scott’s biblical epic launched to $8.6 million on Friday at the U.S. box office as it marches toward an estimated $25 million weekend debut. The Fox action-drama, starring Christian Bale as Moses, has taken over the No. 1 spot from reigning champ “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1.”
The movie is far behind the film that topped the box office this time last year; “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” opened to $73.6 million in 2013. The final film of the trilogy, “The Battle of the Five Armies,” hits U.S. theaters next Friday.
It also trails fellow biblical epic “Noah,” which kicked off with $43.7 million earlier this year.
Like “Noah,” “Exodus” has been shrouded in controversy. The pic has been attacked by critics and fans for its all-white cast. 21st Century Fox CEO and media mogul Rupert Murdoch recently defended the Anglo-led cast, tweeting: “Since when are Egyptians not white? All I know are.”
“Exodus,” which also stars Joel Edgerton as Ramses, carries a hefty $140 million production budget.
The film picked up $23.1 million when it debuted last weekend in 10 foreign markets, including South Korea and Mexico. It had surpassed $32 million by Wednesday, when it moved into another 38 territories.
Early reviews have been mixed, earning it 28% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Meanwhile, another new release, “Top Five,” has received rave reviews (89% on Rotten Tomatoes). Paramount’s comedy debuted to $2.5 million and will laugh its way to $7 million this weekend.
“Top Five” came in third on Friday, but will land in fourth place — behind “Penguins of Madagascar” — by Sunday.
The pic stars Chris Rock as a comedian trying to reinvent himself (in both his personal and professional life). Rock also wrote and directed the pic, which has been dubbed a career comeback.
“Mockingjay” came in a distant second behind “Exodus” with $3.8 million on Friday after wearing the box office crown for three consecutive weekends. The penultimate installment of the Lionsgate franchise should take in $12.5 million in its fourth weekend, raising its cume to $276 million — about $55 million shy of the year’s highest-grossing film, “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
Fox’s “Madagascar” spinoff “Penguins of Madagascar” was fourth on Friday, taking in $1.6 million. It’ll move to third place come Sunday as it brings in just over $7 million in its third frame.
The space epic “Interstellar” rounded out the Friday top five, but the animated hit “Big Hero” will swoop in for that slot later this weekend. The Disney toon reeled in $1.4 million on Friday on its way north of $6 million as it crosses $185 million at the U.S. box office.