You could call it "G.I. Joe" vindication.
The big Easter weekend box office for 3D action sequel "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" -- it took in more than $50 million domestically over the four days and another $80 million overseas -- makes last summer's call by Paramount Pictures to delay its release for nine months look pretty good.
Last week's No. 1 film, DreamWorks Animation's family film "The Croods," finished second with $26.5 million, to raise its domestic total to $88.6 million after two weeks. "Tyler Perry's Temptation" was third, opening with around $22.6 million for the three days. The weekend's other wide opener, the adaptation of "Twilight" author Stephenie Meyers' novel "The Host," was in a battle for fifth with Disney's "Oz the Great and Powerful," with both at around $11 million. "Olympus Has Fallen" was fourth with $13.8 million.
"Retaliation" originally was set to debut last June, but a month earlier the studio pushed back the release in order to convert it to 3D. Another film that like "G.I. Joe" was based on a Hasbro toy property, Universal's "Battleship," had just tanked domestically.
That call negated months of marketing and stalled merchandising campaigns, but the studio believed that it would be a better movie in 3D and knew that If audiences turned out, the conversion would provide a real boost in grosses because of the $3-$4 surcharges theaters charge.
"We wanted to put out the very best movie we could," Paramount's head of distribution Don Harris told TheWrap, "and it became clear to us that 3D was the way to go."
The PG-13 rated "Retaliation" was on 3,719 screens nationwide, more than 3,000 of which were 3D and another 302 Imax. Forty-five percent of the grosses came from 3D, and Imax theaters accounted for 9 percent. The film played to audiences that were 68 percent male and 59 percent over 25. The critics weren't keen on "Retaliation," but moviegoers gave it an "A-" CinemaScore.
Newcomers Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis joined Channing Tatum atop the cast in "Retaliation," which was directed by John Chu. During the interim while the 3D was being added by conversion specialists Stereo D, some scenes were reworked to put more focus on Tatum's role, after the young star became a box-office force in "The Vow," "21 Jump Street" and later, "Magic Mike."
The "Retaliation" total is less than the $54 million that the original film, "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra," opened to August 2009, but that film cost $175 million to produce and the sequel's budget was $130 million. The original film made $300 million, split almost evenly between domestic and overseas. With its solid start, "Retaliation" should come close to that domestic total and Paramount is counting on bigger international returns.
The benefit of 3D is even more significant overseas, where the format's popularity is still on the rise and so many of the newly built theaters are built for it.
"Retaliation" opened in 53 foreign markets this weekend and its $80 million international opening was the year's biggest and almost double the level of the opening of its predecessor, "Rise of Cobra," for the same territories. Top markets included Russia ($11 million), Korea ($6 million) and the U.K. and Germany ($4 million each).
Paramount financed and produced the film with MGM and Skydance Productions in association with Hasbro. Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Brian Goldner produced.
Back in the U.S., the opening for "Tyler Perry's Temptation" was the writer-director's second-best ever for a film that didn't feature his Madea character and continued his string of Easter successes.
"Temptation," an erotic thriller, was a new direction for Perry, whose previous focus has been on broad comedy with family messages mixed in. The target demographic was older women and it hit the mark; audiences at the 2,047 theaters were 70 percent female, 79 percent 25 years of age and older. They gave "Temptation" an "A-" CinemaScore.
Perry has made a habit of box-office success over the Easter weekend. "Why Did I Get Married Too?," "Madea's Big Happy Family" and "Meet the Browns" all opened between $20 million and $30 million.
Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Robbie Jones star in "Temptation," which features reality star and marketing marvel Kim Kardashian in a supporting role.
Last week's No. 2 film, Film District's president-in-peril thriller "Olympus Has Fallen," held up despite the competition for action fans that "G.I. Joe" provided. Its nearly $14 million three-day haul raised its overall total to almost $55 million.
Open Road films targeted young females – the same group that made the "Twilight" series such a hit -- with its sci-fi thriller "The Host," but moviegoers didn't respond the same way.
Andrew Niccol ("The Minutes") directed and adapted Meyer's novel in which an unseen enemy threatens mankind by taking over their bodies and erasing their memories. Saoirse Ronin ("Hanna"), Max Irons and Jake Abel star. Chockstone Pictures and Nick Wechsler Productions produced, for a reported $40 million.
Disney's "Oz the Great and Powerful" raised its overall total in the U.S. to nearly $200 million. The "Wizard of Oz" prequel has taken in nearly the same amount overseas since its March 8 debut.