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By Chris Michaud
March 1 (Reuters) - Will Smith's new action drama "Focus" booted the kinky sex tale "Fifty Shades of Grey" for its perch atop U.S. and Canadian weekend box office charts, racking up $19.1 million in ticket sales.
Smith, in his first leading role since 2013's "After Earth," plays a seasoned con artist who meets up with an aspiring con artist, played by Margot Robbie, in the romance-caper film hybrid.
"Kingsman: The Secret Service", an adaptation of a popular comic series which stars Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Firth about a spy agency's training program and a global threat by a tech genius, also outpaced "Grey" to claim second place with $11.8 million.
Third place on a weekend that saw business hampered by rough winter weather in the south and midwest again went to the family-friendly "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water", based on the popular television show about a talking animated sponge. It sold $11.2 million in tickets.
"Grey," the smash hit adaptation of the best-selling novel which stars James Dornan and Dakota Johnson as the libidinous couple, took in $10.9 million, landing in fourth from Friday through Sunday, according to studio estimates. The film is closing in on $148 million at the domestic box office since opening just over two weeks ago.
Rounding out the top five, "The Lazarus Effect," which stars Mark Duplass and Olivia Wilde as researchers trying to resurrect the dead, took the No. 5 spot on its opening weekend with $10.6 million in sales.
"This was a rather slow weekend at the box office," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at box office tracking firm Rentrak, noting that Oscar winners such as "Still Alice" and "Birdman" had received a good boost from Sunday's awards.
"The severely inclement weather in the south and midwest threw off our number," said Jeff Goldstein, executive vice president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros, the Time Warner unit that released "Focus."
"When you look at the markets not hit by weather, we did really well," Goldstein said, adding that the film had played especially well with younger audiences, where "word of mouth will really help."
International box office would further boost the film's fortunes, Goldstein said.
Comcast Corp's Universal Pictures released "Fifty Shades of Grey". "Kingsman: The Secret Service" was released by 20th Century Fox, the unit of 21st Century Fox. "The SpongeBob Movie" was distributed by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc. (Reporting by Chris Michaud; Editing by Rosalind Russell)