Elsewhere, geezer comedy “Last Vegas” doing better than expected; “About Time” and Princess Diana biopic “Diana” are in grave trouble at the specialty box office.

Sci-fi epic Ender’s Game topped the Friday box office with a solid $9.9 million for a weekend opening in the $28 million range. The movie received a B+ CinemaScore.

Ender’s Game, a co-production between Summit Entertainment, OddLot Entertainment and Digital Domain, is the latest YA film property to attempt to establish a franchise.

The action adventure, costing $110 million to make, is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Orson Scott Card, whose anti-gay comments have riled many. (Though he has saidEnder’s Game isn’t a YA property, it has been made widely available in schools.)
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VIDEO: Harrison Ford on Bringing ‘Ender’s Game’ to the Big Screen  
Directed by Gavin Hood, the movie stars Asa Butterfield,Harrison FordBen KingsleyViola DavisHaileeSteinfeld and Abigail Breslin. Set in the near future, the story revolves around a young boy (Butterfield) who is recruited by the military to stop an alien race from destroying the world.
Ender’s Game is a sizeable gamble for Gigi Pritzker‘s OddLot, which financed much of the movie and dispatched sister company Sierra/Affinity to sell it internationally. Last weekend,Ender’s Game debuted at a soft No. 5 in the U.K. with just under $2 million, but the film could make up ground as it continues to roll out in additional foreign markets.
Outside of The Hunger Games and Twilight film franchises, YA film properties have struggled at the box office. This year, The HostBeautiful Creatures and Mortal Instruments: City of Bones all flopped.
Paramount’s Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is holding nicely as it heads into its second weekend, grossing $6.1 million on Friday to come in No. 2, where it is expected to stay for the weekend.
CBS Films’ geezer comedy Last Vegas, starring Robert De Niro, Michael DouglasMorgan Freeman and Kevin Kline as four friends in their 60s who travel to Las Vegas for a bachelor party, came in No. 3 Friday with a pleasing $5.1 million.
Last Vegas is now expected to gross $15 million for the weekend, putting it in a close race with Relativity Media and Reel FX’s new animated 3D pic Free Birds for No. 3 (most box office observers have Last Vegas coming in ahead). Both films earned an A- CinemaScore.
Free Birds, costing $55 million to produce, is doing slightly less than expected. The Thanksgiving-themed movie, marking Relativity’s first foray into the animation business, is about a pair of turkeys who travel back in time to prevent their kind from becoming the traditional holiday meal. The voice cast is led by Owen WilsonWoody Harrelson and Amy Poehler.
Among the new films opening in limited runs, Richard Curtis‘ British film About Time, starringRachel McAdams opposite Tom Hollander, appears to be a dud. The fantasy romantic-comedy is only expected to earn $1 million from 175 theaters. Universal is releasing the film in the U.S. per its partnership with Working Title Films. Overseas, the film has grossed $32 million from 40 markets, with 17 countries still left to go.
Diana, the biopic of Princess Diana starring Naomi Watts, is likewise troubled. Opening in 38 markets, the movie may only earn in the $62,000 range.
Awards contender Dallas Buyers Club, starring Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, is opening in six theaters in New York and Los Angeles. From Focus Features, the AIDs drama is doing soft business so far.
by Pamela McClintock
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