‘Need For Speed’ Stalls At The Box Office

Tyler Perry hits career low as 'Mr. Peabody' is crowned king.

The big video game movie might have had the fast cars, but it was a cartoon dog who crossed the finish line first.

“Mr. Peabody and Sherman” cruised into first place at the box office in its second weekend of release, thanks to the rough start of “Need for Speed” and a surprising commercial low for Tyler Perry. Last weekend’s champ, “300: Rise of an Empire,” grabbed the runner-up position with a nearly 60 percent drop.

The pop culture enthusiasm behind Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul reached a fever pitch by the conclusion of “Breaking Bad,” but even Paul’s star power wasn’t enough to drive audiences to the box office en masse. “Need for Speed” suffered the same defeat as most video game adaptations that don’t have Angelina Jolie in the lead. Even while marketed along the lines of “Fast & Furious,” the critical dud couldn’t muster the opening-weekend numbers of the smallest film in that franchise. “Need for Speed” opened at #3 an estimated $17.8 million, which is $7 million less than 2006′s “Tokyo Drift.”

“Need for Speed” picked up $45.6 million in foreign markets (the Chinese opening was actually bigger than North America), justifying the movie’s $66 million production budget. Its opening shouldn’t hurt Paul or co-star Imogen Poots, who also made the Nick Hornby adaptation “A Long Way Down” together. Paul will next be seen opposite Christian Bale in “Exodus.” Poots has a movie with Bale on the horizon as well, namely, Terrence Malick’s “Knight of Cups.”

Tyler Perry’s career might be in a much more frustrating place for the moment. “Tyler Perry’s Single Moms Club” had the worst debut of any film directed by the multi-hyphenate filmmaker. It’s $8.3 million opening was less than a quarter of his biggest film, “Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail,” which opened with $41 million in 2009. The opening was around half of last year’s “Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas.” “Tyler Perry Presents Peeples” debuted with just $4.6 million last spring. Perry didn’t direct that film, but he did produce it and attached his name to the title. As an actor, the “Single Moms” opening was even worse than “Alex Cross.”

But it wasn’t all gloom and doom for Hollywood over the weekend. “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” is the latest DreamWorks Animation hit, on the heels of last year’s “The Croods” and 2010′s “How to Train Your Dragon.” Those two films combined earned over $1 billion for the studio around the world. “Mr. Peabody” made $21.2 million in its second weekend, for a domestic total of $63 million and $148 million worldwide. The “300″ sequel has made $236 million worldwide.

Liam Neeson’s “Non-Stop” has made nearly $90 million around the world since it debuted at the end of February. Neeson and director Jaume Collet-Serra teamed up for February 2011′s “Unknown” and are already in postproduction on a third collaboration, “Run All Night,” set for February of next year.

In limited release, the crowd-funded “Veronica Mars” made $2 million from just under 300 theaters. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” saw its theater count bumped up to 66 locations, which put filmmaker Wes Anderson’s gazillionth collaboration with Bill Murray at #8 with $3.6 million.

Speaking of the Top 10, “Frozen” is now the first movie since 2002′s “Chicago” to stay in the Top 10 for 16 weeks. The other films in that category are even older: “Jurassic Park,” “Gremlins,” “Pretty Woman,” “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” “Sister Act,” “Good Morning Vietnam,” “Footloose,” “Out of Africa,” “Steel Magnolias” and “Dirty Dancing.” If it stays in the Top 10 next week, it will be the first movie to pull that off since 1993′s “Mrs. Doubtfire.”

Of course, this weekend will offer up major competition for the Hollywood holdovers. “Divergent” finally hits theaters, which is expected to defy the overwhelmingly negative critical consensus and break the Young Adult curse that seems to have afflicted all but “The Hunger Games” since “The Twilight Saga.” The well-reviewed “Muppets Most Wanted” will arrive in theaters as well, with Darren Aronofsky’s big-budget epic “Noah” on tap for March 28.