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Angry Birds soar to top of US box office

Associated Press Associated Press 22/05/2016

Captain America has found a worthy competitor in a bunch of flightless birds.

The Angry Birds Movie soared to $US39 million in its debut weekend, knocking Captain America: Civil War off its first-place perch, while new adult comedies Neighbors 2 and the The Nice Guys struggled to get their footing, according to comScore estimates Sunday.

Rovio Animation spearheaded the production of The Angry Birds Movie, which cost around $73 million to make, and opened strong internationally last weekend. The film has already earned $150 million worldwide, according to estimates from Sony, which is distributing the film.

The Angry Birds Movie features the voices of Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad and Danny McBride and has received mixed reviews from critics in its attempt to create a compelling story out of a fairly simplistic app-based game. But audiences under 25 gave the film an A CinemaScore which should help the film continue to perform well over Memorial Day weekend.

"It's very difficult turning a video game property into a successful movie," said Josh Greenstein, Sony's President of Worldwide Marketing and Distribution. "To use a bad pun, we are flying high."

Video game adaptations have not had the best track record, but comScore's Senior Media Analyst Paul Dergarabedian notes that the success of Angry Birds likely has more to do with its family appeal and ingrained brand recognition.

"Families are always looking for out of the home content," Dergarabedian said, noting also that this is the latest in a string of very successful PG-rated films including The Jungle Book and Zootopia.

"PG is the hot new rating now. There used to be a stigma that younger teens wouldn't be interested," he said. "The numbers prove that when you go after the broadest base possible, you can be highly successful."

The PG-13 rated Captain America: Civil War wasn't too far behind, earning an additional $US33.1 million this weekend for a second-place spot, which brings its domestic total to $347.4 million. And, even in its third weekend in theaters, the superhero proved mightier than a fresh batch of R-rated comedies, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising and The Nice Guys, both of which underwhelmed in their debuts.

Neighbors 2 brought in only $21.8 million - less than half of the first film's $49 million opening in 2014. But the film from director Nick Stoller also cost only $35 million to make.

"We're really proud of 'Neighbors 2'," said Nick Carpou, Universal's President of Domestic Distribution. "We're not just out there trying to go to the bank on something. It really is a different take."

Stars Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne and Zac Efron all returned for the sequel which puts a new spin on the frat next door idea by having the young family's new neighbors be a sorority comprised of girls upset about the unequal rules for fraternities and sororities.

The R-rated 70s-set buddy comedy The Nice Guys, meanwhile, grossed $11.3 million for a fourth-place spot. Warner Bros. handled the domestic distribution for the Shane Black-directed film, which stars Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe and has been very well-received by critics but seemed to fly under the radar on this crowded weekend.

While the comedy openings might be less than hoped for, both could still provide decent counterprogramming to the spectacle-driven films opening on Memorial Day weekend, when mega productions X-Men: Apocalypse and Alice Through the Looking Glass take over.

The top films at the US and Canadia box office

1. The Angry Birds Movie, $39 million.

2. Captain America: Civil War, $33.1 million.

3. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, $21.8 million.

4. The Nice Guys, $11.3 million.

5. The Jungle Book, $11 million.

6. Money Monster, $7.1 million.

7. The Darkness, $2.4 million.

8. Zootopia, $1.7 million.

9. The Huntsman: Winter's War, $1.2 million.

10. Mother's Day, $1.1 million.

* Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. All figures in US dollars.

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