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Box Office: Scarlett Johansson’s ‘Lucy’ to Slay ‘Hercules’ With $45 Million Opening

Brain is beating brawn at the box office as Scarlett Johansson’s “Lucy” outperformed Dwayne Johnson’s “Hercules” on Friday.

Lucy” opened to a higher-than-anticipated $17 million and is headed toward a strong $45 million debut weekend. Meanwhile, “Hercules” grossed $11 million on Friday on track for a $30 million launch.

Johansson plays the titular femme fatale in Luc Besson’s actioner from Universal. She’s a drug mule who turns superhuman when she mistakenly ingests a drug that gives her access to increasingly more and more brain power at the expense of her humanity.

The actress is a formidable threat to Johnson, the quintessential action star, as she’s proven capable of seamlessly alternating between indies and action pics, from an alien in “Under the Skin” to Black Widow in the “Avengers” and “Captain America” movies. Johansson has the highest grossing film of the year in the U.S. so far with “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” It’s hauled $258.7 million Stateside and $713 million worldwide.

“Lucy,” which Besson’s EuropaCorp produced for $40 million, is evenly matched with “Hercules” as far as critics are concerned. It has a 60% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while “Hercules,” produced by Paramount and MGM for $100 million, has earned 63%.

“Hercules,” directed by Brett Ratner, tells the origin story of the son of Zeus, based on Steve Moore’s Radical Comics book.

The blockbuster’s anticipated $30 million opening is weak considering its hefty budget. But the movie is flexing muscle overseas thanks to the former wrestling star’s global action star power. The epic had earned $11.5 million from 19 international markets by Friday, led by Russia with $5.2 million.

“Lucy” will debut in foreign territories, including Australia, New Zealand, Bulgaria and Panama, next week.

The weekend’s third new wide release, Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton’s rom-com “And So It Goes,” came in eight on Friday. It will likely stay in that spot, earning a projected $4 million by Sunday. Rob Reiner’s indie is only playing in 1,762 theaters, compared to “Lucy’s” 3,173 locations and “Hercules’” 3,595 screens.

Holdovers rounded out the top five. Fox’s back-to-back box office champ “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” earned $4.7 million on Friday. The movie is en route to a $16 million third place finish, down 55%, in its third weekend. The sequel will have grossed an estimated $172 million by Sunday.

Universal’s thriller “The Purge: Anarachy” scared up $3.4 million on Friday. It’s eyeing $10 million, which would mark a 65% decline, in its second weekend.

Lastly, Disney’s second frame of “Planes: Fire and Rescue” should land in fifth ahead of Sony’s “Sex Tape” with $2.8 million on its way to a $9 million-plus weekend.

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