UPDATE 1-"SpongeBob" movie wipes "American Sniper" from top of U.S. box office
(Adds details, background, quotes)
By Chris Michaud
Feb 8 (Reuters) - A talking animated sponge knocked a Navy Seal sharpshooter from the top of the box office chart as "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water" earned $56 million in ticket sales, deposing "American Sniper" after a three-week run at number 1.
The Oscar-nominated war film starring Bradley Cooper and directed by Clint Eastwood finished in second place with $24.2 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters for Friday through Sunday, according to studio estimates.
Another new release, the special effects-laden space saga "Jupiter Ascending," took $19 million to claim the No. 3 spot.
"SpongeBob," the second theatrical film based on the animated television series, follows the yellow sponge and his friends as they travel to the sea's surface to retrieve a secret recipe stolen by a pirate played by Antonio Banderas.
The film far exceeded industry forecasts for an opening of about $35 million.
"The reviews were really excellent, including from some serious, tough critics," said Megan Colligan, president of worldwide distribution for Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc. which released the film.
The box office result was also driven by older teens who turned out in stronger numbers than might be expected for a family-friendly film, and by "cool adults who have embraced the character since they were kids and have never let him go," Colligan said. Continued...