UPDATE 1-Box office: 'Home' trumps expectations with $54 million debut
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By Brent Lang
LOS ANGELES, March 29 (Variety.com) - Jeffrey Katzenberg must be breathing a huge sigh of relief after the embattled DreamWorks Animation chief scored a much needed box office win with the release of "Home."
The family film was the weekend's top ticket seller, pulling in a sterling $54 million, easily eclipsing projections that had it bowing to between $30 million and $35 million. It's one of the studio's best-ever openings for an original movie and the biggest debut it has had since 2012's "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" kicked off to $60.3 million in 2012.
The studio has suffered through a string of film flops such as "Turbo" and "Mr. Peabody and Sherman," as well as failed sales to Hasbro and SoftBank. "Home" is the only film it is releasing this year, so expectations for the movie about an alien invasion were high and scrutiny was intense. "Home" cost $130 million to produce and launched in 3,708 locations. Fox distributed the picture.
"You've got to give credit to the movie itself," said Chris Aronson, Fox's domestic distribution chief. "It's an original story with heart and action and humor, all the elements that people want to be entertained."
The film's success could be reflected in DreamWorks Animation's stock price. Shares of the company closed Friday up 3 percent at $22.68 and continued to climb in after-hours trading on the strong box office results.
"Home's" results continue what has been a very strong year for family fare, after "Paddington" and "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water" did impressive business by appealing to the parents and kids set.
"You had parents talking to one another and saying it was a good movie for kids and that's enough for something to be successful," said Phil Contrino, vice president and analyst with BoxOffice.com. "With family-skewing movies, it can be feast or famine and this year there's been a whole lot of feasting." Continued...