By Rebecca Rubin
LOS ANGELES, (Variety.com) - "Abominable" towered over the box office this weekend as Universal and DreamWorks' animated adventure debuted to $20.85 million in North America and $29.7 million worldwide.
The PG movie benefited as one of the few offerings at multiplexes catering to family crowds and marked the best opening of the year for an original animated film.
Jill Culton wrote and directed "Abominable," becoming the first female to independently make an animated film for a major studio. Universal's DreamWorks co-produced the movie with China's Pearl Studios. With a softer $8.8 million start at the international box office, the two companies will rely on Chinese audiences to turn out in force (where it debuts on Tuesday) to help justify its $75 million budget.
"Abominable" follows a young girl named Yi (voiced by Marvel's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." actress Chloe Bennet) who embarks on an epic journey to reunite a yeti named Everest with his family.
As awards season kicks off, Roadside Attractions' "Judy" hit a high note at the specialty box office. The Renee Zellweger-led Judy Garland biopic amassed $3 million, enough to crack the top 10 despite opening on just 461 screens. The movie, which is already generating Oscar buzz for Zellweger's transformation into the troubled star, appealed mostly to older females. Among inaugural crowds, 60% were women and nearly 80% were over the age of 35.
Though "Abominable" was the only new nationwide offering this weekend, a number of holdovers enjoyed solid receipts. Last weekend's box office champion, Focus Features' "Downton Abbey" slid to second place on domestic charts. The big-screen adaptation of the popular British TV series collected $14.5 million from 3,390 theaters, declining 53% from its inaugural outing. After two weeks of release, "Downton Abbey" has earned $58.5 million in North America.
In third place, STX's "Hustlers" declined just 32% in its third frame, added another $11.47 million to its domestic haul. The $20 million film -- directed by Lorene Scafaria and starring Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu -- has generated a strong $80 million at the domestic box office and $95.4 million globally.
In a race that's currently too close to call, Warner Bros.' "It: Chapter Two" and Disney's "Ad Astra" will battle it out for fourth and fifth rankings on box office charts. Based on Sunday's estimates, both films pocketed roughly $10 million over the three-day frame. "It: Chapter Two," now in its fourth weekend of release, has made $193 million in North America. Brad Pitt's "Ad Astra" has picked up $34 million at the domestic box office.
In box office milestones, Universal's "Good Boys" crossed $100 million in global ticket sales, becoming the first original R-rated comedy to surpass that benchmark since last February's "Game Night."