LOS ANGELES — G.I. Joe is the latest toy to invade Hollywood and plant its blockbuster flag.
Inspired by the Hasbro action figure, Paramount’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra took command of the weekend box office with a $56.2 million debut domestically, according to studio estimates Sunday. G.I. Joe also took in $44.3 million overseas for a worldwide total of $100.5 million.
Meryl Streep’s Julia Childs tale Julie & Julia opened a solid No. 2 as an alternative for adult crowds with $20.1 million. While G.I. Joe was the first choice for young males, women 35 and older were the main audience for Julie & Julia.
G.I. Joe follows Paramount’s Transformers franchise as the latest toy story to find success on the big screen.
Harsh reviews for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen earlier this summer prompted Paramount to skip critic screenings for G.I. Joe and put the movie in theatres sight-unseen by most reviewers.
Critics generally trashed the Transformers sequel, yet it had a colossal opening and is on its way to joining the handful of movies to top $400 million domestically. Based on that disparity between critical and commercial reaction, the studio decided it could do without reviews for G.I. Joe.
“The thing we saw from Transformers is that with these kind of movies, at times critics have a hard time getting their arms around them,” said Rob Moore, Paramount vice chairman. “But the audience got exactly what it was. A fun summer movie, a great way to end your summer. You just relax and have a good time. You don’t have to worry about global politics or global warming.”
Critics who went to see G.I. Joe after it opened gave it mixed reviews at best, with many branding it mindless action but some finding it fun and entertaining.
The weekend’s other new wide release, Universal’s slasher thriller A Perfect Getaway with Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich, opened weakly at No. 7 with $5.8 million.
The previous weekend’s top movie, Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen’s Funny People, tumbled to No. 5 with $7.9 million, down a whopping 65 per cent from its opening weekend. The Universal release has taken in $40.4 million so far.
G.I. Joe pulled Hollywood out of a monthlong box-office swoon compared with last summer.
The overall box office came in at $147 million, up 22 per cent from the same weekend a year ago, when the Batman blockbuster The Dark Knight still was the No. 1 flick after four weeks in release.
“Joe kind of saved the day,” said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com. “We needed a box-office hero to turn things around, and we certainly got it.”
But summer revenues continue to lag behind last year’s, with receipts this season down about 1 per cent.
G.I. Joe features Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Marlon Wayans and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a globe-trotting adventure about an elite military unit taking on a corrupt arms dealer.