‘The Croods’ Shocks Box Office With $44.7 Million Debut

Caveman-themed kids' flick tops 'Olympus Has Fallen' and 'Oz the Great and Powerful' with surprisingly huge opening.

In true caveman fashion, “The Croods” clobbered the competition over the weekend. DreamWorks Animation’s kid-friendly 3-D comedy topped the box office with a $44.7 million debut, according to an estimate from 20th Century Fox, who distributed the film. Big-budget “Olympus Has Fallen,” a.k.a. “Die Hard” in the White House, starring Gerard Butler, debuted at #2 with $30.5 million.

Meanwhile, Tina Fey’s “Admission” got off to a poor start, while the darkly raunchy “Spring Breakers” expanded into more theaters.

“Oz: The Great and Powerful” was the year’s first big-budget blockbuster and “The Croods” was the first breakthrough kids’ cartoon. Audiences that saw “The Croods” assigned it a CinemaScore of “A” and 65 percent of film critics were onboard as well, according to Rotten Tomatoes. The big-budget animation flick features the voices of Nicolas Cage and Emma Stone as part of “the first modern family.”

While box-office analysts expected “The Croods” to bring in enough families to topple two-time champ “Oz,” most prognosticators expected “Olympus” to collect far less cash. Many industry experts put its likely opening figure around $10 million. IMDb.com’s Keith Simanton, a fan of the movie, more optimistically told MTV News, “I predict a $19 million opening, though I wish it better than that.”

Simanton got his wish, as did Gerard Butler. The 43-year-old actor has turned up in one too many flops since breaking out with “300,” with the exception of the similarly action-oriented “Law Abiding Citizen” and a few other films, including some ensembles. “Butler needs this [to be a hit] more than anyone,” Exhibitor Relations box-office analyst Jeff Bock told MTV News last week. “Olympus” depended on a big concept (terrorists taking over the White House), a big name director, Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”), and Morgan Freeman, in addition to Butler. Critics were split evenly on the film, according to Rotten Tomatoes, but audiences gave it an A- CinemaScore.

Action movies had a rough start in 2013, which has included flops starring genre titans Arnold Schwarzenegger (“The Last Stand”), Sylvester Stallone (“Bullet to the Head”) and Jason Statham (“Parker”). “Olympus Has Fallen” opened bigger than “A Good Day to Die Hard,” which debuted with $24.8 million, and even beat Fuqua’s Oscar-winning calling card, “Training Day,” which did $22.5 in 2001.

Tina Fey ably parlayed her television success at the multiplex with “Mean Girls,” “Baby Mama” and “Date Night.” But “Admission” fared poorly with critics and barely cracked the top five with an underwhelming $6.4 million. In the Paul Weitz-directed comedy, Fey plays a stuffy college admissions officer opposite Paul Rudd, whose character runs an alternative school.

There are no schools in sight in the latest art-house flick from Harmony Korine, “Spring Breakers,” filled with guns, drugs, sex and violence. After posting very impressive per-screen averages in New York and Los Angeles, the movie expanded over the weekend, making about $5 million in 1,104 theaters. It stars Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, Gucci Mane and James Franco, whose own “Oz: The Great and Powerful” was #3 in its third weekend with $22 million. The Disney hit, a prequel of sorts to the 1939 MGM classic “The Wizard of Oz,” has made $177.5 million domestically thus far.

Check out everything we’ve got on “The Croods.”