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Sunday Update: Paramount's Noah landed comfortably in first place this weekend with an estimated $44.0 million. The Darren Aronofsky directed biblical epic starring Russell Crowe exceeded its already lofty pre-release expectations this weekend. A strong marketing campaign, mostly good critical reviews and the recent resurgence in faith themed films all aided Noah this weekend. Noah may have also received a bit of a boost from moviegoers who wanted to catch the film before Disney's Captain America: The Winter Soldier enters the marketplace this coming Friday. Without adjusting for ticket price inflation, Noah delivered the 13th largest opening weekend performance ever for the month of March. Compared to other recent films, Noah opened nearly on par with the $45.04 million debut of 300: Rise of an Empire (despite not having the advantage of higher priced 3D tickets that Rise of an Empire had) and 72 percent stronger than the $25.60 million start of Son of God.

Noah opened with $15.19 million on Friday (which included an estimated $1.6 million from late night shows on Thursday), increased 16 percent on Saturday to take in $17.61 million and is estimated to decline 36 percent on Sunday to take in $11.21 million. That places the film's estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio at a very solid 2.90 to 1. The audience breakdown for the film was evenly split between female and male moviegoers and skewed heavily towards moviegoers 25 and over (74 percent). Noah received a lackluster C rating on CinemaScore, which signals that the film is dividing audiences and could point towards potential front-loading.

Lionsgate's Divergent fell one spot to place in second with an estimated $26.5 million. The young adult adaptation starring Shailene Woodley was down 51 percent from last weekend, which represents a relatively strong second weekend hold for a young adult adaptation. In comparison, 2008's Twilight fell 62 percent in its second weekend to gross $26.34 million, while last year's Ender's Game fell 62 percent to gross $10.26 million. Divergent has grossed a healthy $95.26 million through ten days of release. That places the film 20 percent behind the $119.71 million ten-day start of Twilight and 116.5 percent ahead of the $44.01 million ten-day take of Ender's Game. This weekend's hold strongly suggests that Divergent is helping greatly expand the already existing fanbase for the Divergent property as a whole.

Family fare occupied third and fourth places this weekend, as Disney's Muppets Most Wanted took third with an estimated $11.37 million and Fox's Mr. Peabody & Sherman claimed fourth with an estimated $9.5 million. Muppets Most Wanted was down a very solid 33 percent from last weekend's debut, while Mr. Peabody & Sherman re-stabilized very nicely this weekend by declining just 20 percent. Respective total grosses stand at a respectable $94.91 million for Mr. Peabody & Sherman in 24 days and at a softer than expected $33.21 million for Muppets Most Wanted in ten days. Clearly, Muppets Most Wanted has taken a hit from arriving so soon after Mr. Peabody & Sherman (as well as after Warner's The LEGO Movie).

God's Not Dead held up very well upon expanding this weekend. The faith-based drama from Freestyle and Pure Flix placed in fifth with an estimated $9.08 million from 1,178 locations. That gave God's Not Dead a healthy per-location average of $7,704 for the frame and represented a very slim decline of 2 percent from last weekend. This weekend's hold was especially impressive given the added presence of Noah in the marketplace. God's Not Dead continues to exceed expectations with $22.03 million in ten days. That places the film 36 percent ahead of the $16.16 million ten-day take of 2011's Courageous.

Fox Searchlight's The Grand Budapest Hotel also performed well upon expanding into wider release this weekend. The Wes Anderson directed film placed in sixth with an estimated $8.83 million from 977 locations. That represented a 30 percent increase over last weekend and gave the film a per-location average of $9,033 for the frame. The Grand Budapest Hotel has grossed an impressive $24.46 million through 24 days of release. At this rate, it shouldn't be all that long before The Grand Budapest Hotel surpasses the $45.51 million final gross of 2012's Moonrise Kingdom.

The news was nowhere near as good for Open Road's Sabotage. The action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger opened a bit below its already modest expectations with a seventh place start of just $5.33 million. Schwarzenegger simply hasn't been a draw at the box office since returning to the big screen last year. Sabotage only furthers the trend, as the film debuted under the respective $9.89 million and $6.28 million openings of last year's Escape Plan and The Last Stand. Sabotage did receive a solid B rating on CinemaScore, but that won't mean much going forward after this weekend's soft start.

In moderate release, neither Lionsgate's Cesar Chavez nor Focus' Bad Words lit up the box office this weekend. Pantelion Films release Cesar Chavez took in an estimated $3.00 million from 664 locations (for a respectable per-location average of $4,518). Bad Words only managed an estimated $2.65 million from 842 locations (for a so-so per-location average of $3,141) and has now grossed $3.56 million to date. Potential for both films was ultimately limited in part by the strong performance of Noah this weekend, while Bad Words has also suffered from taking a clear back seat to The Grand Budapest Hotel on the platform front.

Saturday Update: Paramount reports that Noah drew $15.24 million on opening day, including Thursday night's $1.6 million start. That puts the film on target for an opening weekend of $43.5 million according to BoxOffice's official projection.

Darren Aronofsky's controversial dramatic adaptation of the Biblical story has seen its fair share of mixed press in recent months, although it appears that the damage was minimal as general audiences rarely pay attention to industry trades enough to be swayed. That being said, long-term prospects are questionable: early word of mouth appears soft with a weak 56 percent Flixster score already one day after release. Critics, however, have been willing to go along for the ride by giving it a 76 percent Rotten Tomatoes score. If the film sparks any debate (and it almost surely will) among audiences after opening day/weekend, legs will be challenging considering the competition coming next week in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. On the plus side, Noah's target audience (adults) could continue showing up out of sheer curiosity.

David Ayer's Sabotage fared poorly on opening day with a $1.825 million haul. That figure falls short of End of Watch ($4.6) and is more in line with Arnold Schwarzenegger's The Last Stand ($2.03 million). BoxOffice projects a $5.5 million weekend for Sabotage. That's a weak start made worse by its 51 percent Flixster audience and 21 percent Rotten Tomatoes scores as of Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, Lionsgate's Cesar Chavez posted $1.02 million from 664 locations on Friday. The drama, starring Michael Pena, should bring in close to $3.5 million in its first weekend.

Check BoxOffice on Sunday for official studio weekend estimates.

Friday Update #1: Sources report that Darren Aronofsky's Noah pulled $1.6 million from its Thursday evening domestic launch. That compares favorably against Son of God's $1.2 million Thursday night haul one month ago this weekend and sets Noah up to at least surpass that film's $25.6 million opening weekend.

Check back later today for a report on early Friday numbers.

Previously: "NOAH" SAILS TO TOP OF FANDANGO'S FANTICIPATION, WHILE "DIVERGENT" STRIKES A POWERFUL SECOND WEEKEND IN FANDANGO TICKET SALES

LOS ANGELES - March 27, 2014 - According to Fandango, the nation's leading moviegoer destination, the Biblical epic "Noah" tops the company's Fanticipation movie buzz indicator this week, gathering a solid 85 out of 100 points -- and outselling "300: Rise of an Empire" at the same point in that film's ticket sales cycle. At the same time, the action-adventure "Divergent" is poised for a strong second weekend, scoring 77 out of 100 Fanticipation points.

"Thanks to widespread curiosity among moviegoers, 'Noah' is building a commanding presence in both social media buzz and ticket sales," says Fandango Chief Correspondent Dave Karger. "These days there's a definite demand to see more Biblical stories presented on the big screen, and director Darren Aronofsky's unique and adventurous take on the saga of Noah's ark is benefiting from that demand."

About Fandango's Fanticipation
Known for having its finger on the pulse of moviegoers, Fandango's movie buzz indicator, Fanticipation, provides statistical insight into the movies fans are planning to see in a given weekend. Fanticipation scores (based on a 1 to 100-point scale) are calculated via an algorithm of Fandango's advance ticket sales, website and mobile traffic, and social media engagement. Fanticipation is not intended as a forecast of the weekend box office; it is a snapshot of movie fan sentiment.

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frozen.pngFrozen is now the highest grossing animated film of all time with a $1.0274 billion worldwide total. The Disney film reached the summit after taking $398.4 million from North America and $674 million overseas. Frozen is Walt Disney Studio’s seventh billion-dollar release in the studio’s history and the first billion-dollar film for Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Frozen made headlines after taking the biggest Thanksgiving debut of all time in North America ($93.6M five-day, $67.4M three-day) before going on to finish in the top ten domestically for 16 consecutive weekends, the longest run by any film since 2002, on its way to winning the Best Animated Feature Oscar.

Frozen is the biggest Disney or Pixar animated film of all time in 27 territories, including Russia, China, and Brazil. A record breaking $77.1 million run in South Korea has made it the is the biggest animated film, the second biggest non-local film, and Disney’s biggest release of all time in the market. Frozen is also the highest-grossing animated film of all time in Denmark and Venezuela.

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capamericalongrange.pngCaptain America: The Winter Soldier rolled out in 32 territories ahead of its North American debut, claiming the global box office crown for the weekend with a massive $75.2 million bow. The opening figure is all the more impressive when considering the film has just opened in around 57% of the overseas market place, with key markets like Russia, China, Japan, Brazil and Australia still on the horizon. Top openings came in from South Korea ($10.9M), the United Kingdom ($10.7M), Mexico ($8.7M), and France ($6.4M).

The $75.2 million overseas debut is already 39% of the overseas theatrical total of the first Captain Americafilm. Disney reports “considerable daily increases” for the film across numerous markets, suggesting strong audience satisfaction and positive word of mouth.

South Korea’s $10.9 million bow is more than four times the original Captain America opening and is the third biggest ever Marvel weekend in the market. The United Kingdom enjoyed a $10.7 million opening, more than twice the opening figures for its predecessor in the market. The film posted an $8.7 million debut in Mexico, making it the #3 March/April weekend in the market’s history behind Marvel’s The Avengers and Iron Man 3.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier expands to North America, Russia, Australia, and China next weekend.

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noahmovie.jpgNoah packed in $33.6 million from 3,579 locations locations in 22 markets this weekend to reach an overseas cume of $51.1 million. The film’s $44 million debut in North America puts it at the cusp of reaching the $100 million mark worldwide with a $95.1 million total.

"We are absolutely thrilled with the continued strong performance internationally and look forward to sharing the excitement over the coming weeks with the rest of the world," said Anthony Marcoly, President of Paramount Pictures International, over email on Sunday. "Darren and team have delivered a fantastic film that audiences on every continent are turning up in volumes to see."

Russia welcomed Noah with the biggest opening of all time for a non sequel and the #4 opening of all time in the market with a $17.2 million debut. It marks Paramount’s biggest ever opening in the market. The film’s opening weekend numbers in Russia are 181% higher than Inception and 165% above Gravity in the same market.

Australia took a $4.3 million debut from 262 cinemas, 32% ahead of Gravity’s opening weekend results. The film gathered $27.4 million from 20 new territories this weekend.

Mexico was the top hold-over with $3.4 million from 620 sites, down 40% from last weekend’s opening figures and bringing the local 10-day total up to $11.3 million. South Korea took $2.8 million from 578 cinemas in its second weekend, finishing its first hold in second place behind the opening of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The total in South Korea is up to $12.4 million.

Noah expands to Germany, Brazil, Spain, and the United Kingdom on April 4. It will reach France on April 9, Italy on April 10, and will land in Japan on June 13.

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By Daniel Garris

Lionsgate's Divergent led the way on Thursday with $3.07 million. The highly anticipated young adult adaptation starring Shailene Woodley was down 7 percent from Wednesday. Divergent was easily the week's top film with a very solid seven-day start of $68.76 million. The opening week performance of Divergent was 26 percent softer than the $93.36 million seven-day start of 2008's Twilight and 104 percent stronger than the $33.75 million seven-day take of last year's Ender's Game. With Paramount's Noah entering the marketplace, Divergent is widely expected to fall to second place this weekend.

Speaking of Noah, the Darren Aronofsky directed biblical epic starring Russell Crowe, was off to a solid late night start with an estimated $1.6 million from late night shows that began at 7 p.m. That was 33 percent stronger than the recent $1.2 million late night start of Fox's Son of God. It should be noted that late night shows for Son of God began at 10 p.m., though initial sales for that film were also greatly boosted by group pre-sales. As is commonplace, the early grosses for Noah will be counted towards Friday's performance. Check back throughout the weekend for further updates on the progress of Noah at the box office.

Turning back to Thursday, Muppets Most Wanted rounded out its first week of release with a second place take of $1.11 million. The latest Muppets film from Disney was down 4 percent from Wednesday. Muppets Most Wanted placed in second for the week with a softer than anticipated $21.84 million in its first seven days of release. The film opened a disappointing 50 percent below the $43.63 million seven-day start of 2011's The Muppets (which did have the advantage of opening the Wednesday before Thanksgiving).

Mr. Peabody & Sherman held steady in third place with $1.01 million. The 3D computer animated film from Fox and DreamWorks Animation fell 6 percent from Wednesday and was down a very slim 11 percent from last Thursday. Mr. Peabody & Sherman placed in third for the week with $16.11 million. That represented a 41 percent decline from the previous frame and brings the film's three-week total to a respectable $85.41 million.

God's Not Dead took in $0.897 million to continue to claim fourth place. The faith-based drama from Freestyle and Pure Flix was down 8 percent from Wednesday. It should be noted that wide releases in general took larger than usual hits on Thursday due in part to Noah entering the marketplace. God's Not Dead claimed fourth place for the week with $12.95 million. That was stronger than expected and places the film 15 percent ahead of the $11.29 million seven-day start of 2011's Courageous. God's Not Dead will be playing in 1,178 locations this weekend.

Fox Searchlight's The Grand Budapest Hotel continued its impressive run in limited release with a seventh place take of $0.597 million. The Wes Anderson directed film fell 13 percent from Wednesday and generated a strong per-location average of $1,964 for the day. The Grand Budapest Hotel grossed $9.42 million this week, which brings the film's three-week total to $15.63 million. The film will be playing in 977 locations this weekend.

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