'SpongeBob' movie wipes 'American Sniper' from top of box office

Sun Feb 8, 2015 12:54pm EST
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By Chris Michaud

(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.

The film, which cost $74 million, has also taken in $27 million internationally for a global total of $83 million.   Continued...

Bradley Cooper, best actor nominee for his role in "American Sniper", arrives at the 87th Academy Awards nominees luncheon in Beverly Hills, California February 2, 2015.  REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni