DreamWorks finally scores a Home run

LOS ANGELES - Jefferey 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 in North America, pulling in a sterling US$54 million (S$74 million), easily eclipsing projections that had it bowing to between US$30 million and US$35 million.

It's one of the studio's best openings for an original movie, and the biggest debut it has had since 2012's Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted kicked off to US$60.3 million in 2012.

The studio has suffered 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 US$130 million to produce and was 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 humour, all the elements that people want to be entertained."

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."

Home's opening weekend audience was 60 per cent female and 57 per cent over the age of 25.

Get Hard, an R-rated prison comedy starring Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart, captured second place on the box-office charts by appealing to a very different segment of moviegoers. The Warner Bros release pulled in US$34.6 million across 3,175 locations and cost an economical US$40 million to produce.

Radius-TWC scored with It Follows, expanding from 32 to 1,218 locations and picking up US$4 million in the process. That was good enough for a fifth-place finish. The well-reviewed horror film has earned US$4.8 million since debuting on March 13.

Last weekend's champ, Insurgent, fell 58 per cent to make US$22 million and nab third place on the charts. That brings the Divergent sequel's total to US$86.4 million after two weeks. Disney's Cinderella pulled in US$17.5 million to grab fourth place and bring its total to US$150 million.