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Box Office Report: ‘Lucy’ Puts Brains over Brawn with $44M Debut

Despite the weekend’s new offerings, North American revenue is once again down, this time by nearly 12 percent from the same weekend a year ago (the summer continues to be down by more than 20 percent).

Scarlett Johansson's Lucy opened to $44 million at the North American box office, an impressive start for an action film featuring a female heroine. The movie, directed by Luc Besson, showed more muscle than Dwayne Johnson's epic Hercules, which debuted in second place to $29 million for director Brett Ratner.

Produced by Besson's EuropaCorp for $40 million, Lucy is being released by Universal. The R-rated movie co-stars Morgan Freeman and features Johansson as a woman who ingests a drug that gives her extraordinary abilities. 

Paramount's vice chairman Rob Moore said there is no doubt that Hercules was hurt by Lucy. The two movies weren't supposed to open opposite each other, but once Jupiter Ascending was pushed out of summer, Lucy relocated. Internationally, Hercules is expected to ultimately take in more than $200 million.

Adapted from Radical Comics, Hercules stars Johnson as the mythical Greek hero. His new adventures begin when he's enlisted by the daughter of the lord of Thrace to save her kingdom from civil war. Johnson stars opposite Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Joseph Fiennes, PeterMullan and John Hurt in the PG-13 action epic. 

Fox's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes placed a strong number three in its third weekend with $16.4 million, bringing the sequel's domestic total to $172.1 million, nearly as much as the $176.8 million earned by Rise of the Planet of the Apes in North America. Overseas, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes topped the international chart for the first time ahead of Paramount’s Transformers: Age of Extinction, grossing $54.4 million for a total $183.8 million and a global take of $355.9 million.

Age of Extinction's international weekend haul was $37.5 million for a foreign total of $730 million and global cume of $966.4 million, of which more than $300 has come from China. The Paramount tentpole is only days away from becoming the first film of 2014 to hit $1 billion. In North America, Age of Extinction came in seventh place with $4.6 million for a domestic total of $236.4 million.

Universal's horror entry The Purge: Anarchy placed fourth with $9.9 million for a total $51.3 million. The movie, which cost just $9 million to make, was produced by Jason Blum's Blumhouse Productions and Platinum Dunes. 

Animated family sequel Planes: Fire & Rescue rounded out the top five, falling 47 percent in its second weekend to $9.3 million for a domestic total of $35.1 million. Overseas, the Disney film earned $6.9 million for an international total of $21 million and global cume of $56.1 million.

Sony’s R-rated Sex Tape, starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, came in sixth place over its sophomore weekend at the North American box office with $6 million, bringing the film’s domestic total to $26.9 million.

Rob Reiner's romantic comedy And So It Goes, starring Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton, opened to a soft $4.6 million to come in at eighth place. The film, with a production budget of $30 million, is being distributed by Clarius Entertainment.

Now in its fourth week at the box office, Melissa McCarthy's R-rated Tammy came in ninth place, grossing an additional $3.4 million for distributor Warner Bros. for a domestic total $78.1 million. New Line made the movie for $20 million.

At the specialty box office, Anton Corbijn's spy thriller A Most Wanted Man, starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman opposite Rachel McAdams, cracked the top 10 despite playing in only 361 theaters. The movie, based on the John le Carre book of the same name, opened to $2.7 million, the second-best debut in Roadside Attractions' 11-year history.

The weekend’s new offerings weren't able to cure the ailing box office. North American revenue was once again down, this time by nearly 12 percent from the same weekend a year ago (the summer continues to be down by more than 20 percent).

Box office numbers were obtained on boxofficemojo.com.

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